Why are game ideas worthless?

Well, it’s been two years since starting this blog.  Today 51 of you wonderful folks have subscribed to, read, and liked my posts.  I really appreciate it.  Thank you.  A recent twitter conversation reminded me of an old blog post, which is still relevant today.  “Until you launch something, the time you spend is meaningless” was controversial at a time when this blog had few readers, let’s dust it off and see if it still is.

An idea for a game is worthless.  It may sound like a rude statement, but don’t take it as a personal attack.  My ideas are just as worthless as yours.  We’ve been told the idea of capitalism is that big ideas make huge fortunes.  Minecraft was a great idea which made a lot of money, right?  Well no.  A well executed game idea is worth lots and lots of money.  That is capitalism.  Notch executed his idea well over time and Mojang continues to execute well (So many weekly updates! Can’t play them all!).  That is worth a lot of money.

Here are some reasons why an idea for a game is worthless.  And why your, and my, ideas might not be worth the same as a great idea well executed.

1.) Economics
Coming up with an idea is really really easy.  Coming up with a good idea is harder, it requires good input.  But a well informed person can have good ideas rather easily.  Price is a function of supply and demand.  We have an unlimited supply of ideas, and demand in only key areas.  Over supply means that most ideas are worthless.  What are the chances that my ideas are ‘worth more’ than yours?  Not very good.  There is simply too much supply of ideas for a single idea alone to be worth anything.

2.) Passion
Your idea is your idea.  Not mine.  Your idea may not be what I am passionate about executing.  Two people can take roughly the same idea and execute it differently, to produce different results.  It’s really hard to get me to be interested in your idea.  A game designer has their own ideas.  They don’t need one from someone else.  Executing someone else’s idea for money is called a job.  Indie game developers are not in the business to execute someone else’s idea.

3.) Project Management
It takes 6 months to develop ONE game if it’s a small project with a limited number of good ideas.  That game may need to contain a few hundred good ideas, but chances are most of them are not original.  There is simply not enough hours in a persons life to execute every idea, let alone all of their own ideas.

For these reasons there is simply no market to sell a game design ideas.  A game design document, even a prototype is not a valuable commodity.  And if I’m wrong I would love to know why.

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