Home Gaming Who will be to blame when indie gaming collapses?

Who will be to blame when indie gaming collapses?

3 min read


I keep hearing articles about how the indie scene is doomed. People compare the current indie renaissance with what gaming went through in the 80s – it’s a cautionary tale telling developers not to get used to the money, the bubble will burst. Okay, but why? And who will be to blame?

Indie gaming’s self-proclaimed crazy old uncle, Jeff Vogel (founder of Spiderweb Software) is another of those who has climbed to the top of the hill to decry the end of the world. Well, he has written a blog saying that the indie bubble is popping. According to him, the problem comes down to demand. As huge as the demand is for games, 40% of games bought on Steam don’t get tried, which can be a major problem for the industry:

To be clear, this isn’t a problem because these games will keep people from buying new ones, though there will be some of this. People mostly don’t play these excess games because they didn’t want them. The problem is that a business based on selling things people don’t want is not a stable one.

So, is Steam to blame? Is the Humble Bundle? Are they just giving us too many games at stupidly awesome prices? I find it hard to blame Steam or the Humble Bundle. The reality is that gamers want to play games. They want to play lots of varied and interesting games for as little money as possible. As long as developers keep making the games we want to play, we will spend small amounts of money during a sale or other promotion in order to get them. As gamers, we’ve become more discerning, and as much as we might jump in the hype train, we’re also patient.

Back in the days of physical distribution, if you didn’t grab a game in that magical time between release and emptying of the bargain bin, it was gone. But now, with digital distribution, it’s no problem playing the waiting game. Plus, gamers are mostly an older crowd these days, as most adults understand the idea of delayed gratification. Sure, it might suck to wait for a game in the short term, but who cares if you play Dark Souls or Sleeping Dogs a few years after everyone else? If it’s still an awesome game and you got it for cheap (or free thanks to PS+ or Games with Gold), all the better. And unlike those AAA titles, indies don’t have the hype train to begin with. Now and then you get the indie powerhouses like Supergiant Games or Mike Bithell whose names can now sell games, but for the most part people will wait for a bundle or sale to try out the indies.

But back to the core of the question. Will indie gaming collapse? Is the bubble preparing to burst? Maybe. With so many industry veterans saying so, it’s hard to argue otherwise. However, they didn’t predict the impact mobile would have on gaming. Or that Steam would do what it has. Or that bundles would become the awesome norm. So, yeah, maybe the bubble is going to burst, or maybe the entire industry is changing to be gamer-centric, offering more games than we could possibly play in our lifetimes for a fraction of the cost.

Last Updated: May 28, 2014


  1. Admiral Chief in Space

    May 28, 2014 at 15:34

    So its a WHEN and not an IF?



    • Sageville

      May 28, 2014 at 15:38

      I noticed that too, self fulfilling prophecy?


    • HvR - THE Average GAmer

      May 28, 2014 at 17:09

      Always with any market because the market performance is based upon human pack behavior.

      Look that ugly fat dude with ugly hoodie in his garage is making some money overnight and 100 million people like him. Quick get the trucks loaded with money and dump it on his garage and every other ugly dude in a garage having the same idea we have to get in on the action.

      Then they found out o some of the garage dudes was taking us for a piss quick get all our money before the market collapses. And POP.


  2. oVgeeeeee Comet Drop

    May 28, 2014 at 15:36

    Flappy Birds


    • Umar's Crown

      May 28, 2014 at 15:38

      DAMN you beat me to it


      • Admiral Chief in Space

        May 28, 2014 at 15:45

        Is that what she said?



  3. InsanityFlea

    May 28, 2014 at 15:37

    No ways, the indie market is strong. (check steam top sellers)


    • Donutwizard

      May 29, 2014 at 00:38

      Those are a few devs out of thousands. Most can barely get their game on Steam.


  4. Umar's Crown

    May 28, 2014 at 15:38

    Gavin Mannion, because he’s always talking kak about the indie devs lol 😛 I kid Gav I love you


  5. Alien Emperor Trevor

    May 28, 2014 at 15:39

    Why would it burst? I see the big publisher & $100mil+ budgets as being less sustainable.

    It’s becoming more saturated for sure, because it’s much easier for indies to get their games out there. That doesn’t mean people will stop buying them though, just means there’s more crap to sort through to find the gems.

    Secondly just because someone releases an indie game doesn’t mean it’s any damn good or if it is, that it will sell well.

    Third, more choice means more people making different choices. More money is being spread between different indie devs as opposed to being concentrated in fewer numbers.


  6. Sageville

    May 28, 2014 at 15:42

    Personally, I’ve avoided Idie games like the plague… until I got the PS4 and PS+ gave me games like Resogun, Don’t Starve, FTL etc, that got me into to indie scene and I’m uber impressed.

    So based on my experience I only see the Indie market expanding.

    Maybe the article is just a hyping of some old bitter doods opinions?


    • Jedi JJ

      May 28, 2014 at 15:46

      Maybe Zoe is messing with us all! On a separate note: Is this opposite land?


  7. Kromas

    May 28, 2014 at 15:54

    The thing is that they compare it to the 80s collapse. The thing about the 80s is that there was one thing missing that we have now. The internet. These fine folks never predicted things like social platforms taking over etc. I believe Indie gaming will still be there for a long time.


  8. HvR - THE Average GAmer

    May 28, 2014 at 17:02

    Why will it burst? more and more Indies flooding the market. There is a lots of duplication starting to happen. So supply going up and up. Over evaluations popping up everywhere (ex flappy bird worth $50k a day, the illusion that CCS incomes will continue to grow etc).

    But there isn’t more money entering the gaming market (in fact it is probably getting less), so money gets spread more and everybody is getting a smaller piece of the pie down too a level it is no longer sustainable.

    I do not think the PC indie market is in real danger of crashing since it is only the developers investing and taking the risk (there is nobody to pull out their investment to cause a crash).

    The mobile market (games and apps in general) though is already straining and the blocks will start tumbling soon.

    With the 2 big console players battle for new games and players for their camps I think we will still see some growth in the console indie market until the market penetration reaches its peak the the big guys will refocus on the big AAA money makers leaving the indie guys high and dry.


  9. Brian Murphy

    May 28, 2014 at 17:13

    I’m still having a hard to trying to figure out how big name developers know jack and shit about how the indie scene will behave? For most of them, they never had the capacity to leverage their pet projects online, like you can through numerous digital distribution platforms nowadays. So, in my opinion, what they have to say is irrelevant.

    As far as indie gaming collapsing? How? There are billions of people with access to the internet, there are hundreds of millions of people who like to play games. Indie devs do something your big blockbuster devs don’t do. Variety. And we all know not every gamer loves the same things. As long as indie devs don’t get it in their heads that every single game made can sell like GTA, they should be fine, some will complement their existing income, some will strike it rich, others will have to go back to the drawing board. Same story as with big devs, except many indies don’t have nearly as much invested in it, so as to ruin themselves and their business (if they have one).


  10. Rags

    May 28, 2014 at 19:28

    I think it will collapse when every Tom Dick and Harry make their own shitty platformers with gimmicks, instead of combining forces to make more compelling games. You can only play so many before the hipster indie cred wears thin 😛


  11. Donutwizard

    May 29, 2014 at 00:49

    I like a lot of Indie games, but I don’t really think that very many of them can hold up to a game like Final Fantasy VII, Skyrim, or ANY Zelda Games (excluding the CD-I games!). Indie games just seem a little outdated right now. They’re pixelated platformers and AAA games are HD open-world VR games. I know that They’re made by only a few people, but indie games are a lot more small scale, and usually light on content. That being said, I love FTL, FEZ, Super Meatboy, Legend of Grimrock, Rogue Legacy, Don’t Starve, Terraria, Starbound, Evoland; the list goes on and on! So… I don’t know… Indie games are great, but $10-$30 for a reason. A lot of AAA games aren’t good enough to deserve even that much money.


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