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We’re continuously blown away by all the original, imaginative, and often ridiculously fun games created by independent developers using Unity. And we thought it could help creators to learn about how fellow indie studios tackle financial and operational challenges to deliver the goods. So we put together the Unity 2018 Game Studios Report, to share relevant benchmarking data with emerging studios, and help them understand how fellow creative teams operate and make successful games.

The report is based on a study with the leads of 1,445 small and medium independent creative studios (ranging in size from 2 to 50 employees) from around the world, with a focus on their primary project in 2018. This group includes both studios using Unity as their main game engine, and studios using other game engines.

Despite the challenges, the report shows that many independent game studios continue to establish themselves and persevere with their creative goals. As Jen MacLean, Executive Director at the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), writes in the foreword to report, “not only do (independent developers) bring their creative vision to life, they do so with ingenuity, flair, and lots of bootstraps, overcoming challenges posed by constrained resources with imagination, moxie, and dedication to their love of creating games.”

Here are a few highlights from the report:

Studios are recently established, compact and highly independent

We found out that 91% of the surveyed studios are fully independent and the majority are developing their own IPs.

They develop, publish and market their own games

40% of studios are developing for VR/AR, which indicates that these platforms are becoming more established among independent creators. Traditional platforms, such as PC and mobile, are still the most popular choices.

The majority of studios are choosing to publish their project themselves, with Facebook and Twitter the go-to channels for marketing and promotional activities.

Fifty-three percent of studios will monetize their primary project via premium payments, while 36% plan to monetize with freemium model.

They require a range of tools to run

In addition to their game engine, the majority of studios use both team collaboration and cloud storage solutions (69%), while less than 40% use analytics to analyze players’ behavior.

Their budgets are lean

Approximately 60% of the budget for all studios comes from freelancing and self-funding. Despite limited financial means, they still spend a small percentage of their budget on employee training, indicating the importance of keeping people’s skills up to date.   To highlight the human story behind the report, Unity colleagues Will Goldstone (Product Manager), Ciro Continisio (Technical Evangelist) and Peter Pimley (Developer Relations Engineer) sat down for a chat with Dr. Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie. You can watch their discussion on our YouTube channel:



Note: If you have a Unity ID and want to download the Game Studio report, you need to have given Unity permission to send you communication. If you have not yet done so, you can opt-in with these steps:

1.    Click here to go to your Permissions page.

2.    Check that your ID information is correct and up to date.

3.    You will see a number of content categories to choose from. Choose one or more categories of interest and click Submit.

4.    Go back to the Game Studio report page, fill out the form (with the same email address as in your Unity ID), and you should receive the report in your inbox shortly.


Download the full report

8 replies on “The way small independent studios create”

This was quite interesting, although I notice it focused on small studies meaning, at least two people. I couldn’t quite relate because I’m a solo one-man-band. I’m surprised just how many teams there are out there these days.

There’s a problem with the form to download the report. I’ve filled out the form several times and was shown a confirmation screen telling me I will receive an e-mail with download link, but I still have not received said e-mail. I’ve tried with 2 different e-mail accounts and checked the spam folders to no avail.

I find reports like this quite interesting to read, especially looking at where my team fits in, so thanks for doing the research.

However, there is one thing about it which annoys me: bad graphical representations of statistics. The bar charts on this page are a perfect example of this; my head is not attached at 45 degrees. Any form of 3D perspective or rotation on a chart is misleading. The whole purpose of this is to present and analyse the data you find, making charts look visually appealing should come second. Please hire a statistician who knows how data should be presented.

Aside from that, good work :)

This. Being cute is not the same thing as being skilled, especially in design, most especially in data representation.

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