How necessary is a sub? (Costing:GD&C)

I have quite a few scraps and morsels whirling around in my head so yer’ll need to excuse the short bouts of typing them out as I go about my Sunday, which is always busy.

This is all a bit previous of course, but to scout ahead is the way I think (and achieve), so here I am poking around server hosting looking at prices. I only vaguely know what I’ll be needing in the dim and distant future, which is right and proper since it’s dim and distant. The following is some notes for  much later,  for if anyone of us fancies puffing TWoFB up into a business. Much later. And huge if.

Studios have running costs, which on the surface doesn’t hang too well with only sporadic income from cash shops. Fixed outgoing + sporadic income = not compatible? Well sort of  …once you scale things up it’s very doable. If the sporadic income easily covers the fixed outgoing you’re home and dry, to put it simply. “Easily” being the important word.

My long and rather acute nose for flannel tells me that running costs are nowhere near being the rocks upon which games founder – excluding debt servicing and wages. But don’t start me on wages. The pressure (here in Britain at least) to employ people you can’t afford is huge and causing all kinds of trouble what with wages being deliberately depressed and handouts being given both to employer and employee to keep them that way. It’s all very unrealistic… I must stop…..

Hehe. Ok I’m back in the room. I’ve kind of jumped a step or three. I’m writing off any startup costs because frankly a) up to now and for the forseeable any equipment we need doubles for personal use and b) the cost of accounting and administering it (time particularly, but money too) outweighs the benefit of reclaiming any tax benefit on it. In other words it ain’t worth the bother until the day the door opens (just about). I know this from starting up before. A quick record of what we started with is about all I’ll keep, and mainly just for interest’s sake (it’s on the TWoFB … aka Thingie page   if you’re curious).  Another step I left out: TWoFB and the Garden Shed is my hobby, so I don’t record or formally account for time spent. Roughly a year’s research, very part time (done). And I estimate if I had done that full time would have taken only 3 months. That’s a working account and good enough for me.  Right now, roughly 2 years very part time learning (doing) – well it’s a guess. I might get there quicker because I like learning. Or I might get diverted – oooo a butterfly! In keeping with what I put before (debts and wages are or rather should be expensive) once I add myself as waged, that’s when the cost of running the thing goes up.

I forgot the third thing I forgot or maybe that was it. Anyway back to server hosting. Poking about I think we could comfortably spend £300 per month and get some people playing together. There are even cheaper options which will be explored and tried in the experimental stage, but I’m costing for when we have all the friends and family and a few (!) others that are established long-term-ish users. There is no lack of hosting services and products out there, and much of what they offer is still gobbledegook to me, which doesn’t stop me shopping. My best guess, wading through the jargon, is £300 per month for nothing to be squished, cramped or dysfunctional.

That is not a lot. If your *established* but small business can’t make that you’re on a loser already (startups and experiments are different and get plenty of leeway and failtime when it’s me in charge).

Like any leadperson I’m not ruling the option out, but I don’t think that a £300/pm server cost would need a sub because it’s just not that dire. Microtransactions (and lateral transactions eg spinoffs) should cover it. Further along I’ll be able to guess how many players my £300/month would support. For now I don’t have the knowledge. And yay there would be the whole experimental stage to get through first. I intend not to have any debts to service by the way. There are more costs, of course there are, but servers are the one that means the wheels turn which is why I’m so interested. Without this particular cost covered there is no point in even looking at the rest.

I can see how companies that have debts to service and have substantial labour costs would be utterly desperate for a steady income – those are the most obvious and likely reasons for the veneration and lust for a subscription model. Or maybe they just cream the extra money off the top. (haha could be… could be..) I don’t know. But from a nuts and bolts perspective, paying for server hosting does not appear to be what dents the bank. It’s doable.

Edit: that bit I forgot? Is the government’s bite of the pie. It is substantial. Here’s good advice –  don’t open for trade until you firmly believe you can make enough to pay the state.

Categories: Game Design and Creation

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