For the last week or so I've been keeping my eye on some indie titles currently in development through websites like IndieDB, Kickstarter, Kotaku, Develop and others in order to see how other people are developing their games. Yesterday evening whilst watching some indie game trailers on YouTube it suddenly hit me how many indie games there are by watching almost a dozen of them by using the ‘related videos' sidebar on the site.
Most of the games looked great, but do all these games help the indie scene? Thinking critically about both sides of the argument, I developed some thoughts on the matter.
Lots of indie developers and indie games is a good thing
- 1. It forces developers to be better, enforcing a ‘dog eat dog', 'survival of the fittest' kind of market
- 2. More games means more ideas and inspiration, which means more good ideas and therefore great games
- 3. More developers means a better community, which means we can help each other more, creating a more vibrant and more lively indie scene
- 4. The growth of the indie scene as a whole will allow a more level playing field with corporate developers, and more recognition in the wider media
- 5. Indie games are a great vehicle for innovation, therefore we will see more new business models, ways to play and ways to interact with each other
Lots of indie developers and indie games is a bad thing
- 1. How many indie developers are giving up their full time jobs to create indie studios? Market reports in the US and Europe show that around 50% of businesses fail in the first 4 years. 50% of the indie community is a lot of casualties, so hopefully there will be new developers to replace them!
- 2. Some great games might never get played because the market is becoming more and more saturated so people never find these great games, or they lose interest in the tired market altogether and stop playing anything at all
- 3. Lots of games means lots of game ideas, which may mean lots of similar, copycat games and game mechanics which passionate gamers looking for something new find less enjoyable
- 4. It's really easy to start an ‘indie studio' these days. All you need is an internet connection, a PC, some skills to develop and some tools, all of which have become readily accessible or cheap in the last few years. Lots of the people who do this could be inexperienced, might not know what they're getting into and could risk their future well being. More importantly though, they could make rubbish games!
- 5. There could be ‘brain drain' away from corporate studios as people leave them to go to Indies, and I've seen this happen much more in recent times than it used to (I'm one of them!). This could mean that innovation levels will fall in the AAA market as the best developers leave to go solo, and the quality of console, PC and similar games will fall, as will their sales
Thinking of these arguments, compounded with a week of taking a look around the indie marketplace, made me truly realise that thousands upon thousands of indie games across an entire range of platforms is a huge amount and is a trend which could affect the industry as a whole, good and bad.
Overall, the vast majority of the effects of this trend are positive, but there could be some downsides. The best thing to come out of it are the great games we've seen and had fun playing, but the bad side is that there could be some pitfalls for us as an industry in the near future when the Indie bubble pops and we start to see some negative effects of our success creep in.
On a final note, I can't even remember a quarter of the trailers, blogs, websites and screenshots that I've seen this past week, and it just goes to show that it used to be OK for you to just get your game out there, but now you have to get it out there and shout about it the loudest.
These are just some of my thoughts on the indie scene at the moment, from the perspective of living and breathing it from the inside out. In answer to this article's question, I'm not sure there could ever be too many indie developers, we simply have too much to offer the games industry as a whole. I hope this provoked some of your own thoughts, please comment with your opinions!
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