Cloud Analytics To Improve The Clout Of Indie Games

Affine
7 min readSep 27, 2022

Indie games were once for a niche crowd that enjoyed the retro-styled game design and mission progression.

Indie games were once for a niche crowd that enjoyed the retro-styled game design and mission progression. Low-key passionate developers who made the quality-of-life mods for popular games, or some brave heart developer who would try to cook up a game with an archaic code and a sub-par computer, made indie games back then. Even if someone managed to make an indie game with the minimum resources, there would be no buzz around the game since no major studio entertained such games.

Today, the Indie game scene is thriving and mainstream, with a sizeable audience. A lot has evolved to an extent that the term “Indie games” has been redefined.

Games like Hollow Knight, Terraria, and Among Us weren’t just chartbusters; they made the Indie space a mainstream one with a solid audience and substantial foothold in the market. What further echoes the success of Indie games is the fact that their development requires a significantly lower budget compared to mainstream AAA, RPG, and Sports games. Their pricing is competitive, aimed at garnering more takers and relying on mass sales volumes. Raking high revenue with a low budget is a guaranteed blueprint for maximizing ROI. But with a limited budget, Indie developers have a set of daunting challenges developing and releasing games in the long run.

The Rise of Indie Games

Many factors have contributed to the rise of Indie games.

The unsung hero here is the digital download platforms powered by cloud backend that make game downloads easier and more economical while helping indie games foray into the average gamer’s library.

Unlike large studios, Indie developers fell short of the budget to churn out physical copies in copious amounts, restricting the reach and exposure of their games no matter how good.

With Steam, GOG, EPIC, and other digital storefronts backed by cloud infrastructure and data centers worldwide for local downloads, it is just a matter of uploading their games to the cloud and letting gamers across the world download them.

Digital platforms became mainstream, and indie developers didn’t have to worry about manufacturing expenses owing to making physical game copies eating into their profits.

Indie Marketing — A Challenge That Cloud Can Address

We see a regular churning out of tons of indie games. The segment is one of the most competitive. For successful indie titles like Celeste and Minecraft, hundreds of games go unnoticed.

Multiple factors are at play here.

Marketing is one key aspect where Indie studios lack the resources to reach a global audience. Like with large studios, volume-based marketing may be impossible for small studios, but effective data-based marketing is not only possible but imperative.

Efficient targeting is the lifeline of successful marketing. Bombarding social media platforms with ads without a proper marketing plan will not result in user acquisition or brand engagement. You must understand your target base before going all out on digital marketing.

Marketing and user acquisition in this day and age is an omnichannel affair. Video games have a global audience, and studios cannot afford to overlook this factor.

Improving the reach of games requires a well-crafted marketing plan that covers all grounds.

Analytics-based marketing is the core to ascertaining the audience base for game studios. The keyword here is data-collecting data at every avenue, and online touchpoints are vital to understanding customer behavior and patterns.

But it is also the first step toward the logical marvel of data-powered analytics

Data Collection, Analytics, and ROI (Return on Investment)

With the advent of digital marketing, the term “marketing” is thrown around like confetti, and small, less experienced businesses like indie game studios find it challenging as much is lost in translation.

Indie studios must focus on collecting vital data like game metrics to understand their players’ behavior and data from social media platforms that can help them tune their marketing campaigns for maximum efficiency.

Combining the accrued data with cloud analytics helps studios with ROI-based marketing, giving them a real-time view of what’s going on with their marketing activities instead of a “what went wrong?” meeting.

This way, real-time tweaks to the digital marketing efforts are made possible, and studios can focus on targeting prospective leads on particular social platforms rather than unnecessarily advertising on every platform and user.

Since indie studios have a limited marketing budget, effective ROI-based marketing is the ideal balance to help achieve brand recognition and user acquisition.

Game Analytics — A Must-have Solution for Indie Game Studios

We saw the advantages of cloud-based analytics solutions for marketing. Now, let us look at game analytics that can help indie studios tweak their games and release updates and patches that result in increased player engagement and game lifetime overall.

Game metrics can help studios offer users a dynamic gameplay experience.

Player fatigue, monotonous gameplay, and challenging levels play spoilsport in the long run and affect the gameplay duration of players. DLC and additional content can help here, but it involves resources like budget, development, and workforce.

With game analytics, studios can read real-time game metrics, analyze them, and improve gameplay so that players will put more hours into the game. All this comes without worrying about the additional development cost and human resources for DLC.

There are plug-n-play game analytics solutions that overcome the infrastructural challenges and initial setup costs. Even the maintenance is done on the service provider’s end so that studios can focus on improving the player gameplay experience, the true intent of these solutions rather than logistics.

Indie studios can avail such game analytics solutions on a Netflix-like subscription model from pioneers in the analytics industry, with impressive track records and pedigree working with industry giants.

Cloud Solutions for Indie Game Studios are Not Only Imminent, but Imperative

Even the Silicon Valley giants have acknowledged that the cloud is paving the way for gaming and have introduced multiple cloud-based gaming services.

In 2020, Google introduced a managed service program called Game Servers. Unlike Stadia, Game Servers isn’t a game streaming service but a backend cloud server infrastructure that helps game developers build and scale backend servers for their game titles. So, unlike the common misconception that the cloud in gaming only means streaming, the cloud also plays a vital role in acting as a backend infrastructure for all types of games.

With a considerable stake in gaming and its recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has revealed its new product, ID@Azure, which lets indie game developers develop their games from scratch for the cloud platform.

Large studios have already made this transition and are reaping its benefits, not only in terms of cost but also in the elimination of managing the backend infrastructure. Why spend time and resources on it, when many service providers like AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure, Google and others can take care of it while developers adapt to the subscription cost model and focus only on making quality games?

A German indie mobile game studio, Coldfire games, eliminated its backend management efforts due to adopting an efficient cloud infrastructure. It is the only time before other indie developers follow suit and adopt cloud infrastructure as a backend to their games.

Then we have the cloud gaming phenomenon, which is set to gain significant traction over the next few years, with players like Netflix getting into gaming and giants like Google and Nvidia having services in place. Just like streaming became mainstream, cloud gaming will set a benchmark in mainstream gaming, and developers need to adapt to this, providing games at a subscription model.

From marketing to game analytics and backend infrastructure, cloud solutions are highly beneficial to game studios, particularly Indie developers who don’t necessarily come equipped with the resources, team, and technical know-how for game marketing and analytics. But it can be challenging to choose the right ally for your game analytics requirements. Affine is a pioneer player in the AI analytics arena, working with large and indie gaming organizations to synthesize game analytics into efficient and effective business outcomes

Get game analytics for your business

The passion for developing exceptional games is all an indie studio needs, for cloud-based solutions are plenty with simple implementation techniques and measurable ROI-based results that will assist them in every step.

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Affine

Affine is a provider of analytics solutions, working with global organizations solving their strategic and day to day business problems https://affine.ai