We have all heard of the big AAA titles for video games. From Call of Duty, Halo, and Assassins Creed, these games are always some of the top sellers for developers for every iteration that comes out. What about the smaller games? Ever hear of Minecraft, Super Meat Boy, or Papers, Please? If you play video games, it’s certain that you have, and they were some of the biggest games of that year (Minecraft is still one of the best-selling games out). The developers of those games don’t have millions of dollars or a small army to help create their dreams. They have a few people, some frozen pizzas, and an ambition to create something special, and as technology has been improving, the rise of indie games is something that can’t be ignored.
What Is an Indie Game?
Just like independent movies, there are small groups of people that make games without the financial support of a publisher. Indie games have been around for quite some time on the PC, but only have recently seen a huge rise in popularity on consoles. The way that they were able to become popular was due to the rise of digital distribution via Xbox Live or Playstation Network. By paying a small fee for a development kit, indie developers are able to create their game for a console, and as long as they meet specific requirements with Microsoft or Sony, they can self-publish on that system. One of the biggest games that made millions for Microsoft as well as the person that made the game was Braid created by Johnathon Blow. Relying on innovation rather than a big budget, we get the chance to see things in video games that we aren’t able to see from big budget titles for fear of not getting the funds to create it. Braid, the first of many big-selling indie games, gets the chance to show off what you, the individual, can create, and have we seen some great games in the small amount of time that indie games have become popular.
What About the Big Budget Games?
The Halos and the Assassins Creeds of the world are always going to have a huge market, selling millions each time the next iteration comes out. Because of this fact, AAA studios are always going to have a place as long as there is a console to put it on. The nice thing about indie games is that it gives diversity to the point that these small development groups are getting the chance to make enough money to ever further their dream of an indie game turning into a big budget title. Minecraft was created by a very small group of people, but because the popularity became so large, the game is now out on most consoles, and will be coming out on next generation consoles, and even having their own annually expo. A small group became a large group, but never lost that ambition that got them there in the first place.
What About the Future?
As big as indie games have gotten, we very could see an over-saturation of games like we saw in the 80s and the Atari, where there were so many games, that people had too much choice and we saw a drastic fall in sales. The thing is, is with digital distribution companies no longer have to fear the costs of manufacturing and promotion. With Sony and Microsoft actively pushing certain indie games over AAA titles, there is a common marketplace for both to coexist and make everyone a lot of money, create new innovation, and make everyone happy.