The Indie Fund is an organization created by several independent game developers to help fund budding indie video game development. The Indie Fund was created in early 2010, its purpose aimed "to encourage the next generation of game developers" by providing them funding for development of these games without the terms that would normally be associated with publication agreements.
The founding and current members of the Indie Fund include: Ron Carmel and Kyle Gabler of 2D Boy, Jonathan Blow of Number None, Kellee Santiago formerly of thatgamecompany, Nathan Vella of Capy, Matthew Wegner of Flashbang Studios and Aaron Isaksen of AppAbove Games.
Members of the Indie Game organization have identified difficulties for indie developers to be able to fund their projects. Ron Carmel noted that there are typically two ways that this funding can occur: either through the developers providing their own money to initiate the project, or by signing deals with publishers for funding in exchange for part of the game's revenues being given back to the publisher. Neither of these choices were considered optimal for an aspiring developer, according to Carmel.
In 2008, several self-published indie games, including Audiosurf, Braid, Castle Crashers, and World of Goo were released to both strong critical reception and large sales. All of these games were initially funded by their respective studios, and demonstrated that investment in independent games could be profitable. With the following years also providing more commercially-successful games, the Indie Fund group decided to create the fund, using the profits from these games, as to aid the next iteration of indie games.
Investments in indie games are pulled from the Fund's reserves. Currently, the group states they can select two to three games that they can support per year, but they believe as the Fund expands, they can invest in more projects. Developers cannot directly apply for investment by the Fund; instead, the Fund watches the indie game market, observing games that get notice from the gaming press through both conferences and word-of-mouth, and selects candidate teams from these sources. The Fund provides monthly payments to the selected projects to cover development costs; upon release, the developers are expected to pay back the development funding and a small portion of the game's revenue over the next three years based on the level of funding required. There is no penalty for failing to be able to pay back the full funding and revenue; should this occur within three years of release, the Fund requires no further payment, and all further revenue can be kept by the developers. The Fund allows the developer to retain all IP rights, and does not set any timetable for the development, only requesting monthly progress updates.
As an example, Q.U.B.E., the first Indie Fund-backed game to be released, had an original budget request of about $42,000 in August 2010; aware that it was apparently going over-budget, the Fund approved addition funding to bring the total investment to $90,000. With four days of the title being released on the Steam software delivery platform, the title has sold 12,000 copies, sufficient to repay the investment. The second game, Dear Esther, cleared 16,000 units within 6 hours of being available on Steam, the revenue from that completely repaying the Indie Fund's contribution.
In February 2012, the Indie Fund changed their repayment model, now only asking for the initial investment back plus 25% of the revenues from sales through the first two years or until they have doubled their investment, whichever comes first. This allows the Fund to allow for broader projects in size and scope, as well as take more risks on games that may not be as financially successful as others. One example is the decision to fund the game The Splatters in September 2012; though the game had previously been released to Xbox Live Arcade in April 2012, the game was considered unsuccessful but the developers, Spiky Snail, wanted to revise the title based on lessons learned and port it to more systems. The Indie Fund agreed to back the improvements, feeling that the developers had shown an understanding of the initial faults to assure a product that will overcome the risks of investment.
At the 2011 Game Developers Conference, the Indie Fund announced the first three games that it had already funded Q.U.B.E. by Toxic Games (which would later be the first Indie Fund game to be released in December 2011), Monaco by Pocketwatch Games, and Shadow Physics by Scott Anderson and Steve Swink. The Indie Fund has also announced funding for one other yet-to-be-named titles from Double Fine Productions.
|2011||Q.U.B.E.||Toxic Games||Released||PC, Wii U||Q.U.B.E. was one of the twelve finalists, but did not win, for the 2011 Indie Game Challenge sponsored by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.|
|2011||Shadow Physics||Scott Anderson and Steve Swink||Cancelled||Xbox Live Arcade||At GDC 2012 Anderson revealed the game had its funding cut and had been cancelled.|
|2012||Dear Esther||thechineseroom and Robert Briscoe||Released||PC||Originally a free game modification for Half-Life 2, the funding was used to expand the work to a stand-alone title.|
|2013||Monaco: What's Yours is Mine||Pocketwatch Games||Released||PC and Xbox Live Arcade|
|2013||The Swapper||Facepalm Games||Released||PC|
|2013||Panoramical||Fernando Ramallo and David Kanaga||Released||Interactive music exhibit||Currently touring various indie game shows|
|2013||Super Splatters||SpikySnail Games||Released||PC, Mac, Linux|
|2013||Kachina||Little Flag Software||In Development||PC, Mac OS x, iOS|
|2013||Fract OSC||Phosfiend Systems Inc.||In Development||PC, Mac OS|
|2013||Spacebase DF-9||Double Fine Productions||In Development/Early Access||PC, Mac OS, Linux||Spinout of game developed during Amnesia Fortnight 2012.|
|2014||Hack 'N' Slash||Double Fine Productions||In Development||PC, Mac OS, Linux|
- Carless, Simon (2010-03-12). "Independent Game Luminaries Announce Indie Fund". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
- Carmel, Ron (March 9–13, 2010). "Indies and Publishers: Fixing a System That Never Worked". 2010 Game Developers Conference. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
- "About Indie Fund". Indie Fund. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
- "Q.U.B.E. Recoups Investment Within 4 Days of Steam Release". Indie Fund. 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Yin-Poole, Wesley (2012-02-15). "Indie game Dear Esther profitable in less than six hours". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
- Weber, Rachel (2012-02-09). "Indie Fund updates investment model". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- Curtis, Tom (2012-09-04). "Why Indie Fund is backing an XBLA flop". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- Parkin, Simon (2011-03-01). "GDC 2011: Indie Fund Announces Support For Three Titles". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
- Ligman, Kris (2013-06-13). "DoubleFine receives Indie Fund backing for two new titles". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "2011 Indie Game Challenge Finalist - Q.U.B.E.". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
- Narcisse, Evan (2012-03-06). "Why The Indie Game That Was Supposed to be the Next Braid Never Came Out". Kotaku. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
- Cifaldi, Frank (2013-03-19). "Indie Fund's latest: Panoramical, an interactive album". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- Hillier, Brenna (2013-04-17). "Kachina is the Indie Fund’s next project". VG247. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- Ligman, Kris (2013-10-15). "Double Fine's new space roguelike comes backed by big indies". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-10-15.