Solo Entrepreneurship in the Video Game Industry: What Is the Best Growth Strategy for Stardew Valley After Early Success?

Abstract

The farming video game Stardew Valley was launched to critical and commercial success in 2016. Lone developer Eric Barone wants to stay competitive in the popular and ever-changing gaming industry, but to do so he must ensure his product stays fresh and he connects with users. How should he proceed? So far Barone has considered several options. One is to seek development assistance. He could hire other creators to add on to or improve Stardew Valley. Doing this would help to ensure the original game does not go stale while freeing him to pursue other video game projects or expand into related categories. However, hiring is expensive. To simply stay in the game—whether his business sees actual growth—Barone must constantly refresh his product, his methods of extracting revenue, his practices of interacting with the various players in the video game ecosystem, or a combination of these. This case challenges students to assess a situation where past success had been unlikely and to make forward-looking recommendations that account for a crowded competitive space beholden to user generated content and concentrated methods of product distribution.

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