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GDC Europe: The Art Of Public Funding For Indie Games

At an Independent Games Summit talk on the Monday of GDC Europe, German independents Yacine Salmi (Swimming Under Clouds) and Alexander Zacherl (Astroslugs) discussed the possibilities of public funding for games.

Simon Carless

August 15, 2011

2 Min Read

At an Independent Games Summit talk on the Monday of GDC Europe in Cologne, Germany, German independents Yacine Salmi (Swimming Under Clouds, pictured) and Alexander Zacherl (Astroslugs) discussed the possibilities of public funding for games. In Europe, with local funding in places like Bavaria, wider funds like the Nordic Game Fund, and even some EU-related funds, there are a number of ways you can get independent games funded through support of arts and technology. Even beyond game funding, there are a number of IP-related startup funds which don't specifically target games, even art funds (as Dutch indie Tale Of Tales have tapped), and even research funding -- you can get funded for the R&D for your engine, as Austrian indie Broken Rules are doing. Overall, as Zacherl points out, public funding can be a very good thing, since it "reduces your exposure if you fail... and most startups will fail." To a certain extent, it's as simple as that. And versus publishing funding there's some major advantages. For example, public funding, their goals are aligned with your goals - if you success, they succeed. In some cases with other business partners, they might make money where you don't make money. There are of course, downsides to even public funding. Alexander pointed out that even for relatively simple public funding: "Taking money from someone else... will take away a little bit of your independence." And you need to make sure you don't overslant your game design just for the funding, as Zacherl noted: "Make games that you really care about... and then find funding for it." Yacine added: "We don't want to see funding for copycat games..." Overall, the funding options are many and complex. Some funds are conditional loans, some pay out a certain percentage on completion so you have to shuffle your funds accordingly, and tax relief is another way things can be funded. The duo concluded: "Don't become addicted to public funding... think about how you can make money without them." And they debuted a major new indie-centric list for public game funding at bit.ly/publicfunds, with lots of details on European and North American funds that indies have tapped in the past.

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless


Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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