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Why it's hard to get into indie games

3 min read

As you may be aware, we have published our first game: The Last Stand. Now that we are bonafide indie game developers, we can talk about some of the issues with indie gaming.

I’m quite willing to accept that indie games will not have traditional graphics, or even physics engines. Sometimes they will, but it’s not part of my expectation.  That said, I do expect an interesting game. If I want a predictable type of game, I will buy it from the big studios who have the time and money to make it polished. With indie games, I’m looking for something unique.

Let’s look at some big success stories in indie gaming: Minecraft, Bastion, Terraria, Super Meat Boy. They might not all look the prettiest, but they offer something to the market that wasn’t there before. Also, they simply wouldn’t work if released from traditional development houses – can you imagine EA making Minecraft? It would be filled with micro transactions, DLCs and sequels.
Then there’s the issue of quantity. There are tons of indie games out there. Ridiculous amounts of games. Not all of them are great, but there certainly it quantity. Which brings in the issue of finding the signal in the noise. How do you know which games are good? How do you even find out about these games? I do my best to keep my ear to the ground about awesome indie games, but I’m still often behind on them. How is the average gamer supposed to find and support indie games?
Most people go to the “best selling” section – if everyone else is buying it, it must be good… right? I decided to check out the all-time best-selling indie games on the Xbox marketplace. There we can find such amazing titles as “Baby Maker Extreme“, “A Perfect Massage” and “Try Not to Fart“. These might be funny, unique or relaxing games, but they certainly won’t appeal to someone looking for a ‘real’ game.
Finally, there’s the issue of distribution. Despite being a proponent of indie games, I have never purchased one for my console. I only purchase indie games through Steam, that just seems to be the way it works out. PlayStation may continually tout their indie credentials and Xbox has had huge success with their indie games.  However, some developers simply find it easier and more cost effective to only develop for PC (and occasionally Mac and Linux). In the end, the same problem comes to the fore – how to find the good games, whatever platform they may be on.
Are you an indie gamer?  What draws you to the non-AAA titles, and how do you find them?

Last Updated: August 15, 2013

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