Tough Love for Indies

At one time I was the independent software developer's dream customer.

I was a pushover. I bought applications, I bought tools, I bought games. This was back when "shareware" was still legitimate, back before the iPhone App Store made five dollars sound like an outrageous amount of money for a game. I did it to support the little guy, to promote the dream of living in the mountains or a coastal town with the only source of income coming from the sale of homemade code.

Much of the stuff I bought wasn't great. I bought it because it showed promise, because it clearly had some thought and effort behind it. That I knew it was produced by one person working away in his spare hours softened my expectations.

The thing is, most people don't think that way.

These days I still gravitate toward toward apps that were developed by individuals or small companies, but I don't cut them any slack for lack of quality. I can't justify buying an indie game because it has potential but isn't actually fun. I won't downgrade my expectations of interface design and usability so I can use a program created by two people instead of a large corporation.

That whole term "indie" only means something if you go behind the scenes and find out who wrote a piece of software. And while I think it's fascinating to watch the goings-on of small software developers, it's a quirk shared by a small minority of potential customers. The first rule of being indie is that people don't care if you're indie. You don't get any preferential treatment for not having a real office or a QA department. The only thing that matters is the end result.

(If you liked this, you might enjoy Easy to Please.)