Avoiding the ‘Indie Apocalypse’: A Guide to How PC Indies Can Survive & Thrive

Lean development and virtual teams, untapped market segments, crowd-funding, community-building and more. Our panel of PC Indie Developers talk about their best practices to survive and thrive in the current landscape.

Panel Members:

  • Renee Gittins, CEO/Creative Director – Stumbling Cat
  • Eric Jordan, CEO – Code Name Entertainment
  • Sean Vesce, Co-founder/Creative Director – Colabee Studios
  • Kathie Flood, Managing Director/CEO - Cascade Game Foundry
  • Moderator – Martin Rae, President – AIAS

Recorded at the Intel Buzz Workshop in Seattle, WA on 6/22/16, which was streamed live at http://twitch.tv/IntelGameDev. For more game dev resources, check out https://software.intel.com/gamedev

OK, so if [INAUDIBLE] here today, you're interested in re-thinking business, or helping somebody else [INAUDIBLE] business. And what we have today, the title, Surviving the Indie Apocalypse. If you're trying to do business, you understand what that means. How do you build a business in today's environment? How do you create products, get it out to get noticed, achieve some success, not just creative success, but business success. We have four, one's [INAUDIBLE] right now, Sean, there he is right now. 

Renee, Eric, Sean, and Kathie, who are all out there doing what most of you are doing. Trying to build a business, trying to create a great ground-breaking product. I'm going to have them introduce themselves, and we're going to talk a little bit about what they're doing and what they're trying to do. 

Right here? Hi. Um, Hello, hello, hello? This not working? No. Hello, hello. Hello. Oh, now it works. 

My name's Eric Jordan. I'm the CEO of Codename Entertainment. We're a video game [INAUDIBLE] based in Victoria, BC, Canada with 15 people, [INAUDIBLE] studio, which is great. So we make games. Initially the company started doing Flash games on Facebook, and we actually stayed in the web space. Migrated over to [INAUDIBLE] Games, is a place that we can sort of hone in, make a decent living at. We launched our first Steam game last fall, which has done great for us. 

I think that's [INAUDIBLE]. All right, hi. My name is Renee Gittins, and I'm the head of Stumbling Cat, is a Seattle-based indie studio I founded just about two years ago. We're currently working on our project, Potions, A Curious Tale, which is an adventure crafting game where combat's not always the answer. And we just successfully funded it on Kickstarter for about $65,000. 

[APPLAUSE] 

So when I'm not working on that, running Stumbling Cat, [INAUDIBLE]. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to ask me. And I also help mentor students in game development and PR development at [INAUDIBLE]. 

My name is Kathy Flood, and I'm the head of Cascade Game Foundry. We're a very small indie studio that came out of Microsoft Game Studios about seven years ago, and we specialize in building reality-based experiences that help people explore the world from home. We have our own IP, and we also do custom development work for [INAUDIBLE] 

Hi, my name is Sean Vesce. I'm a game developer. I've been making games for about two decades. Started off in Activision, working on the Mech Warrior franchise, Interstate '76, Rim, Crystal Dynamics, [INAUDIBLE] two-reader series, for a bunch of time. We wrapped up a game called Never Alone last year, [INAUDIBLE] a game about [? Inupiat ?] culture, and in September the art director of that  project and I created a new studio called Colabee, and we're working on the spiritual successor to Never Alone, a game called Forest Song. 

Thanks. Hey, I'm here [INAUDIBLE] I know everybody else probably is, too. You guys have chosen [INAUDIBLE] and a lot of people talk about it, and it's hard, and it takes a lot of risk. And so you've decided to go out and pay rent, meet payroll, take creative risks, put yourself out there for people to say, it's a great game, it's a terrible game, it's flat, and so I think the reasons why you did that might define what it is you're doing, and how you approach your business. And I think anyone interested in building a business would be interested in hearing why you did it. 

So, personally, I came from biotech. I was actually a chemical engineer, and received my degree in engineering from [INAUDIBLE] College. I didn't find that biotech was meeting all of the challenges that I wanted. I consider myself very much a Jack or Jill of all trades. So when it comes to art and creativity and writing, those are all things I really enjoy, while I also really enjoy the technical side of things, too. I was given the opportunity to switch over to the software team in biotech, so I picked up my experience in the software development there, and then I wanted to get into the game industry. 

Unfortunately, through my searching I couldn't find a game industry job that I thought was suited for what I would like to do, and I had a bunch of money from being in biotech, and I had a pretty good game idea, so it sounded like I might as well try to see where that could take me. So actually, Potions, A Curious Tale started off as sort of an adventure project for myself, to see if I could be a really good game developer. I'd made smaller games on the side, but this was my first large project, and it really took off. I have a good fan base, I have an amazing team that I'm so happy that it's grown to what it has become. 

So when I was in university, I met a friend and we started a software company, enterprise software company, venture-backed, built it up, sold it to IBM. And it was a great experience. I learned a lot about running companies and the game-- like, running companies is a game. I've always loved games, and I like the game of running companies. I think it's a fun game, kind of a strategy simulation game, but with real money. And I took several years off after selling to IBM, then I just looked after kids, and after my kids were all in school, I was like, you know, I want to get deep into doing something again, because building a company is such a completely life-absorbing sort of thing. I was like, I enjoy that, I wanted to do that again. 

And I was looking for very specific aspects of the business that I wanted to get involved in. And I was also sort of like, you know, you hold up your hobbies, and you're like-- my degree's actually in art. So I was like, can I make a living as an artist, painting? No, no, that doesn't really meet a lot of business things that I was looking for. And I had friends that had worked in computer games for a long time, and I'd look at the more traditional, AAA, how studios got funded through that process. And it was like, eh, that really, for me, didn't achieve some of the stuff I was looking for. 

And when I looked at it more recently, and distribution opening up, and being able to have direct relationships with customers, you're controlling your IP, and I was, oh, that's something I really, really [INAUDIBLE]. It fits a bunch of business [INAUDIBLE] looking forward to, so, [INAUDIBLE]. 

After two decades of working on big budget action titles, I found myself emotionally and creatively bankrupt. So I decided that I wanted to try to find meaning in the work again, and figure out a way to use games to do more than just entertain. So I was fortunate enough to be invited to Alaska to meet with this group called [INAUDIBLE] Tribal Council. This woman, Gloria [? Neil ?] had a mission to make a game to help promote indigenous values and mythology with the rest of the world. And we tried to talk her out of it, because we said that games were really risky, and budgets would be high. And she persisted and we ended up making this game, Never Alone. So after that, [INAUDIBLE] really wanted to pursue making games about world cultures that share and celebrate the great value that many cultures have, and we think [INAUDIBLE] are greatest games of our time, and that's something that we'll continue to do. 

And I have to say, if you haven't seen Never Alone, it's a really beautiful product. It's really nice. 

So, I also worked on big budget video games for a long time. [INAUDIBLE] Prior to Xbox, [INAUDIBLE] Xbox launch, and Xbox Live launch, and Xbox 360 launch. And in between shipping those games, I had to work on lots of prototypes that never saw the light of day. And that's one of the secrets, if you've not been in the industry for a while, it's very fickle. So you can be working on something, all pistons are firing, project's going great, everything's on schedule, and something happens and that project just goes away. 

And one of those projects was a scuba game that I worked on a prototype for many, many years ago. Almost 12 or 14 years ago. And the idea just would not leave me alone. It was something where the audience had a big constituency of women. It was very educational. I'm an environmentalist. I wanted to do something where you can teach people about the world, teach them why they need to care about preserving it. All the climate change stuff that's kind of hitting a big wave now, is something that I've tracked for a long time, and I've wanted to do something that showed that we can use this technology for good. 

There's such a narrow definition right now, at least where the big money goes in games to ultra-violent, emotionally manipulative, just-- a lot of things that people would ask me, because I work in games, oh, what games should I get for my kids, and I couldn't, in good faith, give them many good recommendations, and I wanted to change that. And I did try to change it on the inside, but, you understand the big business budgets where you're just not allowed to take the types of chances that you can as an indie. 

And ultimately, what drove me to start our own company was, [INAUDIBLE] studio which was working on train sim, flight sim, and the economy crashed. They were in the process of moving our studio to another place inside Microsoft, and instead, it just went away. I, too, had been there for a while, and I went, this is the kick in the butt that I need to go try something new and put my money where my mouth is. I've been trying to do it on the inside, it's not happening. Let's try to do it from the outside [INAUDIBLE] 

And a huge part of what we do, we set the company up into a [INAUDIBLE] we go around and do tons of school outreach. Also stuff that I learned, very good stuff I learned from Microsoft, who did a lot of that. And if nothing else, we're showing kids that the stuff that's out there now is great, but you can do so much more with it, and think outside the box. What experience are you having in your world that you want to share with somebody who's in a completely different part of the planet, and how do you share [INAUDIBLE] 

Nice. There's a term here. I think your theme here, it's all about passion, and different kinds of passion. Build a business, it's for our kids, I've got a dream, the cultural piece. And you have the passion, maybe you have the nest egg, maybe you didn't, but you go out [INAUDIBLE] I think some of the success get to when you can solve problems and get over obstacles. And so when you're on the phone, talking about [INAUDIBLE] we're talking about what gets in the way of indies. How do you not just survive, but thrive in this industry. 

And one of the first ones that came up was funding. And through [INAUDIBLE] a different issue, maybe, but for everyone here that wants to be independent, free of influence of the man, so to speak and do your own thing, you have to solve the funding problem. So in your estimation, how did you solve that? What were the obstacles there, and what are places [INAUDIBLE] 

Well, I guess the first off thing I'd say is, I don't think-- you're never free. Like, you've got to make payroll, you know? So you're always beholden to someone. And I think when you're making a company, you choose, who do you want to be beholden to? And so you could do something like Kickstarter, and then you're beholden to those backers. Or you go out and get investment, and then you're going to be beholden to those investors. Or you work with a publisher, you're going to be beholden to the publisher. 

And something that was really important to me was my VC [INAUDIBLE] was in seeing how venture could both help the business, but as well as kind of get in the way of really doing what I thought the customer really wanted. And a big reason in games, like, don't get into games to make money. This is not like, wow, this is a great way to make a lot of money. But it's 'cause you really enjoy making games and connecting with people who play those games. And for me, I really wanted to be focused, in our business, [INAUDIBLE] beholden to people who play our game. So if everyone in the studio wakes up in the morning and says, what can I do in studio today, that make the people who are playing our games happy, so that I can continue to have money coming in, and we can do more things in the future. 

Yeah, I definitely agree with that. You have to be careful about where you get your funding, because that does affect how you develop a game. So I also decided that I wanted to make a game that was best for the audience. I think we all do. But I decided to do Kickstarter for additional funding. I actually did a lot of self-funding for the initial development of my game. 

And then for the rest of the development cycle, I'd gone for Kickstarter funding because my game involves cultures and stories from around the world, and what better to help me figure out those cultures and stories but people from all around the world? So it's been really amazing, having that big community of people who are very passionate about the game, enough to give money not knowing 100% that it will be completed. It will, I promise. But getting that kind of support and interest in the development cycle early was really, actually, beneficial towards the game's development. 

I don't think there's a single good funding answer for everyone though. A lot of indie games are made in the wee hours of the morning between your 'real job', if some people call it that. But a lot of teams that I know do contracting work while paying for it. When they build their team, they build it on profit-sharing, or on shares of the company. And all of those are good solutions. Personally, I pay my team up front, because I think we have too many starving artists in this world anyway, and I don't want to create any more of them. But every solution is different, depending on the team, how fast they want to work, how much creativity they can put in in a week, even, or how much code. And so, I don't think there is one perfect answer there. 

Definitely not. We've done everything independently, and that means that we are Crock-pot slow. Really, really slow. And we probably put our game out too early, because we had an opportunity to have it be part of the museum exhibit. So we made that deadline, and we thought, oh, what the heck, it's out there. We'll just [INAUDIBLE] and we'll see what type of feedback we get. It's actually turned out really well, because the feedback we've gotten has informed our decisions as we've gone along. [INAUDIBLE] green light process through Steam, [INAUDIBLE]. We essentially did that by taking the game around to schools. 

Part of the funding issue is, we knew it was weird, and we knew we were going to have to do it on our own, we knew it was going to be slow. So accept that it's going to be slow, accept that some people on your team aren't going to be able to handle that. We do a lot of contract work on the side, and that pays the bills, and then we kind of fit all the things that we want to do in down time. 

The other thing is, be very careful about how you define success. That's part of taking money from somebody else. They have money as their definition of success. What's your definition of success? Ours was having some impact on the industry. To try to change it. To try to change attitudes, to try to at least plant the seeds in young kids who grow up and go, oh, I can do that. This hasn't been done before, but I can do it. [INAUDIBLE] That's part of what we call success, is being able to have the freedom to go out and tell people, yeah, we did it. It wasn't easy. It's not going to be easy. It's still worth it. It's amazing, [INAUDIBLE] you can have a fantastic time, but what's important to you? Make sure that you [INAUDIBLE] success and not someone else's. 

For us, we've been focused on non-traditional funding strategies for the games we worked on. In the case of Never Alone, it was funded through the social services group in Alaska. For the Forest Song, it's based on Ukrainian culture, so we've been doing a ton of outreach to Ukrainian diaspora here in Seattle, New York, Chicago, or in Edmonton, kind of activating the community, activating the whole [INAUDIBLE] that believe in the mission of using a game for good, and the belief that sharing world cultures is an important thing to do. 

And we've found a lot of success there, not only in terms of the funding side, but also in support of skills and contacts and other kinds of things. So one advice that I'd draw from this experience is to find others that are outside the game industry who believe in the mission that you're trying to promote with your game, and activate them. Get them involved, get them to be part of the process. We're looking forward to a Kickstarter campaign, so I'd love to connect with you and find out more about your experience there. 

It's really hard. 

[LAUGHTER] 

And draining. Kickstarter's not easy money, that's for sure. Certainly back in 2012 or so, Kickstarter was actually really easy if you had a good game idea and you had a decent team. It requires a lot more effort now. People are much more skeptical. 

They've been burned. 

Yeah, right. And there's just not as many people interested in games on Kickstarter [INAUDIBLE] so marketing is a much bigger issue, which I think might lead into something. 

Yeah, I think it will. So all of you are, which I find interesting, because, if I had a panel up here of [INAUDIBLE]. I don't think I'd hear, I want to change the world, [INAUDIBLE] which I hear a lot. It's really cool. [INAUDIBLE] I want to do something different, which is a great thing, from my perspective. Si if we've solved the funding thing, we haven't, but we're working on it. So we're paying rent and meeting payroll, and doing what we need to do-- 

Or you work out of your home. We pay rent. We still all work out of our homes. 

Then how do you get discovered? That's another one of the big issues. I have a great game. It's different. How do I get discovered? 

For us, it's been about finding this mission that goes beyond games. And so we've been really fortunate with these last two titles to get a lot of international press because people are looking for stories about ways in which games are being used in a novel way. Especially when we're talking about things like changing the world. That's provocative. And so we've had a lot of help there. When you're-- in our case, when we were working with a specific culture, then they generally have a very tight network of people in the community which, if we can leverage, they start to get the word out. And then, of course, being at events like these. Being with GDC and Casual Connect and E3, and getting, basically-- 

And DICE. 

--and DICE. And really, just a lot of the faces, [INAUDIBLE] I think I saw you recently at a conference out in [INAUDIBLE] and just shaking hands. And you can't beat that kind of [INAUDIBLE] 

And that's a huge part of it. For us, it's contacts in the environmental world. So we've been talking to [INAUDIBLE] of the World [INAUDIBLE] Congress, [INAUDIBLE] Film Festival, these are not places that games are, ever. But environmentalists are excited to have a new way for them to show what some of their research is, especially if it will raise awareness for ocean health and health of the climate right now. So the fact that they're willing to do that, and they're willing to share that information [INAUDIBLE] 

Yeah. I definitely think that coming to events and networking with other game developers is really important. Not just networking with potential users, but game developers themselves, because we all build reference full of people who are interested in games, whether they're interested in it through the development side, or if they're actually playing it. So regards to conferences I've attended, I've been at [INAUDIBLE] DICE, Power of Play, [INAUDIBLE] Seattle Indies Expo, PAX Prime, GeekGirlCon, that's just in this last year. 

And every time I go there, I make sure that I meet people. Both people who are passionate about games themselves, and other developers. And through that network, I was able to reach out to the people who would end up being my backers for [INAUDIBLE]. And people who develop games are often the ones who are most excited about them, because we're all crazy and game developers instead of making more money in actual, or other technology. Sorry, actual. Other technology. 

So I think that reaching out to other game developers is extremely important, but I think it's also important to understand who your audience is. My game features a 12-year-old girl and fairy tales and myths and magic. It's an adventure crafting game that feels like Zelda a lot, the people who go the craziest for it tend to be 11-year-old girls. So when I went to GeekGirlCon and showed my game there, I had the most amazing response. I had parents begging me to buy it on the spot, even though it wasn't available, I had people asking to subscribe to our email list, to follow us, and then we had people who were just interested in seeing a female developer, and wanting to provide support just because we tend to be a little bit less common in this industry. 

And so all those steps of outreach are really important. And then the final outreach that I think is really important nowadays is through internet celebrities, I guess is the best way. TotalBiscuit, if anyone's familiar with his name, actually did a 15-minute video on my game, and that brought in so many views, that alone. And I made friends with him, and he heard about some unfortunate thing that happened, and he was like, oh, [INAUDIBLE]. Let's do a video on your game because it sounds cool. And so making those connections can get you a lot of benefit. And plus, it seems like all kids these days watch YouTube stars and streamers constantly, so that's their advertisements for them. 

Yeah, certainly to echo that. Influencers like Twitch and YouTube is, obviously, huge. I guess for us, a real touchstone for our company is, probably like a lot of companies here, we want to make games that we like, that we want to play. So that's sort of like, we want to do that. And then we really focus, in terms of discovery, around where were places that we as a small developer could produce a title that wasn't going up against something from Bethesda or huge studios, but was going to go up with other studios, and were like, oh yeah, we could actually do something and be really successful in that space. 

And so we focused, this is where we stayed in web and focused on [INAUDIBLE] and our games, because we were like, we can make games. It'll do really well there, and we don't need vast amounts of money to pay for our studio, so that's a marketplace that we can be successful in. There are games on there that we enjoy. So it kind of meets that touchstone of what we're looking for, as well as being a place that we think we can actually do something there. The last game that we launched, Crusaders of the Lost Idols has gone on to be one of the most-played games on both of those sites, and then helped us lever into Steam, which is bigger than our usual kind of marketplace, [INAUDIBLE] 

Sean, and I'll come to you [INAUDIBLE]. On the phone call, we were talking about obstacles and things. [INAUDIBLE]. You keep [INAUDIBLE] development. You know who's [INAUDIBLE] playing what and how. How do you solve that problem? 

It's hard. When you leave a big publisher, you don't realize the kind of information that you have available to you to help validate certain decisions that you [INAUDIBLE] available. And those analytics. And so as an indie, you're really all of a sudden out in the cold. And you want for information that's relevant, that's timely, and that's accurate. 

I actually think Renee made a great point about when she [INAUDIBLE]. We've had a lot of luck just saying hey to other indies that are working on games that we respect, and showing that respect, and then getting into a good conversation, asking questions, trading ideas, and trading knowledge. That has been awesome. Finding sites like SteamSpy, for instance, which is a website that aggregates user data. It's not 100% accurate but it gives you a little bit of a picture on what some of your independent pals are doing, how they're going. And then beg, borrowing, and stealing. Finding if you have friends in publishers and friends around and sometimes you can get reports and things that can be very helpful. But it's a huge challenge for people 

The Open Gaming Alliance has a lot of great data, and you can join as an indie. Definitely look into that. A lot of demographic information, who has what hardware, [INAUDIBLE] all that stuff that we used to get at Microsoft. We could just go out to the [INAUDIBLE] it was awesome data, [INAUDIBLE]. Anyway, we can get it through the OGA. So definitely [INAUDIBLE] there's a special [INAUDIBLE] presentations at GDC [INAUDIBLE] 

Washington [INAUDIBLE] 

Oh yeah, Washington Interactive Network, partnered with a start-up accelerator, that was fantastic too. [INAUDIBLE] 

So as an engineer, I'd say that data is really important, but I definitely think it is more important for those AAA companies that are trying to sell millions of copies of their titles. One of the benefits of being a smaller company is that you can make those really passionate, more focused games, and reach a smaller audience because your project is much smaller, and yet still come out of the green on the other side. And so I think that one of the best ways to get that data, that information, is. again, going to events and seeing what people playing your game react, and how they react to it, and that helps you figure out who your audience is, and then what your audience wants from the game. 

And I think that play testing is really important. So if you've been developing a game for six months and nobody's tested it outside of your team, drag over some friends who have never heard of it and force them to play it, and you'll learn so much so quickly. Play testing, I think, is really key for understanding your game and what people expect of it. 

Yeah, certainly the play testing. It is the most painful experience to sit there and watch someone play through your game. And when we're doing it in our studio, we have them come in, we're like, look, we're going to pretend that we're not here. Obviously, we are. But we're going to pretend we're not here. We're not going to answer any questions. We're going to do this timed thing. And watching people go through a dialogue we designed, or all these pieces, and clearly not understanding things, and you're just like, oh my god. It's sort of like watching videos of yourself giving a presentation, I think. 

[LAUGHTER] 

But it is incredibly invaluable to do it. For this last title, I guess I sat through probably 50 play tests for our web PC version, and then another 50 for the mobile one. So it was great,so I highly recommend that. If you're making free-to-play titles, and you're focusing on [INAUDIBLE] audience is sort of into playing classics [INAUDIBLE] stuff, then the Kongregate and do a shout-out to [INAUDIBLE] from Kongregate. She publishes all sorts of really fabulous data. [INAUDIBLE] developer link, and they do all of these wonderful presentation. If you can attend at GDC or something, that's great. If you don't have the money to attend them at GDC, then [INAUDIBLE] put all the stuff out there with a huge amount of data, which is really great to draw on. Something that we use as a big touchpoint in a lot of certain processes for us. 

I want to leave some time for questions, and [INAUDIBLE] Now, you guys are all involved and passionate about this, and that's why I [INAUDIBLE] call them. What do you want for the industry? If you could pick some things out in the industry, make it better, make it more interesting, more inclusive, whatever the [INAUDIBLE] what would that mean? 

I think for us it was this dream of inclusive development. [INAUDIBLE] open up the development process to people outside of traditional developers, and Never Alone was an experiment on that that we're continuing forward. I think when you have new voices in the industry you end up with products that are really inspirational, and things that really blow people's minds. And I feel like games, we've come a long way in the last 30 years, but there's so much more to go. as a medium. 

I believe, and I think a lot of people share this view that games can change the world. Games can change the way we think about the world and how we relate to it. And it's hard to see-- I'm a fan of the action titles like Call of Duty and others, but what I would like to see is games that [INAUDIBLE] and start to be on par with [INAUDIBLE] films and [INAUDIBLE] paintings in a museum. We've got a long ways to go, but I think we're starting to scratch the surface now. 

The potential to use this technology for education is astonishing. We get a really good response to our [INAUDIBLE] game wherever we take it. But we recently started doing VR work. And the difference between how people react to the VR version, that we haven't been developing that long, though it's based on some of the same assets, and vastly different. The VR stuff-- the previous panel talked about, you can't just [INAUDIBLE] definitely true. You have to [INAUDIBLE] 

All you have to do is watch people a little bit, and see how they interact with a flat screen, and then how they interact in the VR world, the potential to do really amazing things is there. The potential to screw with somebody is also there. So yes, I want to see this technology used for good. It's going to be an interesting few years [INAUDIBLE]. My personal goal is to see this used to educate people, hopefully get people to get to concentrate more on things that we have in common than things that divide us. [INAUDIBLE] their jobs if we can see that everybody we have on the planet is kind of interacting the same way. 

So I definitely think the industry is trending this way, but I hope it continues towards more accessible development and more game developers. I know that's tough sometimes, because it means a billion apps, games moved to stores, and more competition, but I think it's really healthy for the industry as a whole, and really healthy for people's understanding of technology and of games. 

I work with high school students occasionally. I mentor them in game development. And the amount that they learn about computers and about problem solving and about why the things they learn in school, from history to writing to math are important, is astonishing. and so I just wish that there were more game developers in general, because I think that seeing how so many different skill sets and how much different knowledge and people come together to make these beautiful pieces of art is better for society in general. That's what I look forward to. 

Let's see. So I've always loved games. I played Dungeons and Dragons when I was a kid, bought the first [INAUDIBLE] as a kid, and my wife and I are both big into games. We've got three kids who are big into games. We plan our holidays around going to gaming conventions. I love games. I love the culture that's sort of developed, and how that's moved to becoming so much more mainstream over the course of my life as I've watched that happen. 

But I guess if I could change one thing or have one thing happen into the future, it'd really be some of the experiences that women end up having at conventions and around the gaming culture. Like, this gaming culture, that as a white male, I walk into and I feel, like, oh my god, this is so great compared to what it was when I was a kid around Dungeons and Dragons. 

There's so many data points of people coming forward and saying, you know, that's not my experience at PAX. Or another convention I really like, Gen Con. That's not my experience at Gen Con. And as someone who has a 14-year-old daughter and a wife, and I'm like, this thing that I know you love, to think that you'd have some of these pretty lousy experiences, it just, I don't know, really breaks my heart. And if I could change one thing, that would be the thing. 

We have a little bit of time for a couple questions. So these guys are out there doing it [INAUDIBLE] 

So as a gamer, Steam is the greatest thing since sliced bread. [INAUDIBLE] As a developer, if I'm just trying to put your own game out there, how easy is Steam, how good is it for you? [INAUDIBLE] road blocks that maybe as gamers we don't see? How is your relationship with Steam? 

I, personally, love Steam. Steam is sliced bread for me, as a developer, and I think for the indie scene in general, because how else are we going to reach people? I mean, yeah, there's a lot of third-party sites that are popping up, and there are great things like Humble Bundle. But so many people use Steam that it's really become an amazing distribution platform that allows so many more developers to reach an audience that they wouldn't have the opportunity to before. I love Steam. And I've had no issues working with them. Everything has gone really great, actually. 

I would second that. The tools are reasonably simple to get stuff up. The guys at Valve have been incredible in terms of support, talking to [INAUDIBLE] a shout-out to Tom because you email and you get answers very quickly. There's a good community around Steam, and yeah. Steam is good. 

Yeah, our experience with Steam, also. It's a fabulous platform. It is a survival-of-the-fittest sort of platform. They don't have-- they've got a few people at Valve who provide support, but the reality is, the tools are really great, and it's what you can kind of make of it, what you can bring to it, how you support and foster your game within the [INAUDIBLE] system that's really important. You're not going to sit down and spend several hours talking to someone at Valve about the best way to launch your [INAUDIBLE]. You know, there's forums. You should go look at that. Read our FAQs. You can go read those things. 

I'll answer that question later this year. We're not out on Steam yet. So far it's been good. 

Any other questions? OK, I think we're out of time. Thank you very much. 

[APPLAUSE]

Product and Performance Information

1

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