Sunday, April 6, 2008

Secret to Game Industry Success

I've talked to a lot of store owners, game manufacturers, publishers, and even people in distribution. These people are smart, hard working, and over time, successful. They have good business models. They do everything right and are relentless in promoting their businesses. So what is their secret to success? What has allowed them to go from nothing to a substantial business after countless hours of work and sweat? It's having a wife with a good job.

Oh no, I didn't just write that! Yes, I think it's true. I've worked at dot-com companies back in the day, where they would scrimp on your salary, work you like a dog, but you were working for your company, because you were holding tens of thousands of stock options. Want a raise? How about 10,000 more stock options? I've been potentially rich on paper at least four times. A reasonable person would take the money up front, which is what I always did. A more adventurous person would take the low pay and a giant chunk of options because they believed in the company, and believed their hard work would pay off. The odds said no, but they were willing to go for it. Now, when it comes to game stores, you are essentially that guy who is working for the stock options, but there are no stock options. You are putting your livelihood on the line without thoughts of strong remuneration later on. For this you need a wife with a good job.

The wife with a good job is pretty much required nowadays to succeed in society anyway. Housing prices are still too expensive unless you're making well over a six figure salary. You can buy a house on one salary, but with house values equaling quality of education, your children won't have the benefit of learning the English language. So if you have the added security of the wife with a good job anyway, you might as well roll the dice at least once in your life and see what you can come up with.

The wife with a good job seems to be the secret ingredient that allows game industry people to move from being just alright at what they do to being good at what they do. With the pressure off, you can work without pay, if necessary. You can take one for the team. You can take a low salary so you can put your business capital into growth and advertising. I would hesitate to call the wife with a good job a "cash cow," but hey, that's what she is! So step one in game industry success, from where I'm sitting is getting oneself a wife with a good job, or maybe a husband, if you're one of the five game industry women I know about.


  1. Now I think you're just being overly cynical. You don't need a wife with a good job... one that's independently wealthy will do.

  2. Do you think a bigamist could scrape by with two or more wives with "not so good" jobs?

  3. Or you make a decision to not live in the SF Bay area. There are many areas of the country where high five figure jobs, and reasonable priced housing make a one wage earner household possible.

    But I do agree that getting a small biz going takes LOTS of time, and for this having a second wage earner reduces the "What If" stress.