Are casual indie games still a thing? Interview with Jake Birkett


Amongst all the AAA titles we sometimes forget about the little guys, the people that start off small and grow to flourish into something much bigger.

It is a well known fact that we take them for granted. Just think back to the the last time you downloaded a game on your phone or decided to try out a free game. We have all been there –  however the the market is so large that many indie developers fail to get noticed and actually find it much harder to build up a fan base.

In light of this we decided to speak to Jake Birkett  from Grey Alien Games who could be considered an expert in the “casual games” market. Jake, who has also founded Full Indie in both Canada and the UK (An indie meetup / hangout for indie devs), also has years of experience in this field  So basically he knows what he is talking about.

The current state of the  casual / free indie games market

As mentioned before the market is massive, with many business models and developers offering a wide variety of games on a silver platter.


Many of these models have now changed into what Jake and many would refer to as, “free to play/F2P/freemium/evil “. These models attract people in with the supposedly free features then lure people to hand over their money in an attempt to make them somehow better off within the game. Does this mean the market is in dismay? No not necessarily, but it does show how much it has changed  and how people are more willing to spend their money to progress within a game.

I prefer to craft a game that, once the player has bought it, they can enjoy playing through to the end. Perhaps that’s old-fashioned now, but it’s the way I roll.

Life can be frustrating as a casual indie developer

Yes, yes it can…  within the sea of casual gamesthe casual portals only pay devs about 35% on average”  This is compared to places like apple that actually offer around 75% commission.  You need to remember the next time you buy a game for a £1 that only a portion of that goes to the game developer making it very frustrating to them.

Many people do not realize that these types of games rarely get any coverage in the media making it yet again very frustrating and difficult on the developers.

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I guess they aren’t “cool” enough, even though it’s a really huge market

This is why we have also launched our #IndieGameInitiatve which aims to make it an easier process for all indie devs alike to let us know of all their latest games no matter how big or small they are.

The Future of casual and free to play games

With more and more games being released each day we can see the  market evolve right in front of our eyes. “We will see more and more people converting over to F2P games” Jake adds “This will make it even harder to compete in that market.  There’s already some consumer and press backlash in that market and we might see stricter regulations introduced in the near future”

With the wide availability of (fairly easy to use tools) such as unity 3D we can expect to see many more people take up their ambition of creating games. Of course this means “it  is going to make it harder to compete and survive”


Of course with what some call the “Indie gold rush” coming to an end soon we may see a decline in indie sales and a backwash of preempted games that fail to gain any traction due to the rise in amateur indie developers. As a very last resort Jake told me “When it begins to look non-viable I will evaluate my options and consult with trusted friends in the industry as to what direction to head in.”

Advice for any developers in the market

Continue at what your doing and make sure you do not give up! Jake has been going for over 9 years – over this time there have been ups and downs, things that worked and didn’t work, but if you stick at it things will turn out better.

It’s a roller coaster ride but you are at the controls, and that’s pretty cool.

We constantly see games come and go, some succeed and some fail but most importantly it is a learning curve that will provide you with the experience to know what works for you and what doesn’t. The key is you need to be unique in your own right, make people like you as well as the game and most importantly do your research into what’s hot and what’s not!

Let us know how the Casual / Free to play market is treating you

Remember to continue supporting these fantastic indie game devs, if you want you can even go and check out Jake’s latest game Spooky Bonus. We also want to hear from you and have your views on the market… Where do you think it is heading? If you’re an indie dev we would love to hear  your views on the market too!

There are 3 comments

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  1. Francisco

    This was really interesting – it’s great to see that the casual indie games market can still get exposure from sites such as yours!

  2. Connor Taylor

    Hope the indie gold rush doesn’t end any-time soon! Its hard enough as it is to get oticed at the moment…

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