The gaming world was once run by the big names and big games: CAPCOM, Square Enix and Konami, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter and Metal Gear Solid are just a few to mention. However, it seems right now we are in a golden age where indie gaming studios are rising to the challenge and outputting some marvelous indie creations.
With the recent increase in visual effects and virtual reality throughout the gaming world, indie developers have greater access to better and more impressive technology as a solution for the gaming business. Some really impressive creations have been released over recent years such as Rocket League: an online competitive game where you control a race car and attempt to smack a ball into a goal by driving into it. This also true for Firewatch: a visually stunning and narratively immersive game where you play through the eyes of protagonist Henry as he struggles through some confronting scenarios while trying to uncover the secret behind an ongoing mystery.
Gaming studios also have access to gaming development outsourcing which means developers can acquire extra help quite easily to get the job done and dusted. Digital distribution has grown a lot as well which means a greater number of people with the right skills such as animation services have more of a chance to get into a line of work that they enjoy. Studios can also outsource indie gaming studios development via many channels. Mobile technology is being more widely accessible is another growth factor which has resulted in a plethora of indie games to be churned out by indie gaming studios.
However, people with gaming visual effects and animation skills have become relatively hard to come by. This has resulted in more industry-backed schemes to provide extra funding, so more people will look at gaining the education required to fill these skills shortages. Global gaming revenues rapidly increase year-on-year, and virtual reality promises to disrupt it all. Seeking the ways to improve the bottom line, many game studios outsource specific development projects to outside companies. Get to know more about outsourcing gamedev to Innovecs.
The indie gaming market is thriving like it has never done so before which means there is also an overall feeling of competitive spirit between developers. Indie games are no longer seen as a budget solution for gaming business but are seen as entrepreneurial masterpieces where individuals can convey thought-provoking stories or dish out unique concepts that take the world by storm. One such example of the latter is Flappy Bird. The developer ended up making so much money from that one game that he removed it from app stores because of its highly addictive nature.
These days with indie games, it would seem the riskier the concept is, within reason, the better and more well-received it will be among the gaming community. Of course, luck is also a factor that plays an important role when it comes to which games become successful and which get tossed aside.
But all good things must come to an end, and some feel that indie gaming isn’t going to stay as popular as it is. Once a formula has been repeated so many times, society starts to look for something new, and the worry here is that indie gaming can often be seen repeating the use of a certain formula to gain attention.
One such example of a formula being dangerously overused is animating games in retro-style, 16-bit graphics. Older gamers appreciate it as it reminds them of their childhood, but younger gamers can very easily get bored of it seeing as they’ve been exposed to such high definition graphics and visual effects from the start of their lives. Retro games are axiomatically aimed at a specific group of gamers, but once those gamers move on to have families or find themselves with not enough time in the day to enjoy games, the retro genre may very well cease to be.
Also, indie gaming development, in general, is risky as being an indie game developer means you are not relying on the names of big publishers to get your game out there. By being self-sufficient, indie gaming studios need to keep up the creativity required to wow audiences and leave impressions on gamers that keep them thinking long after the credits have rolled.
Successful indie games seem to be the ones that aren’t targeting a specific demographic but rather conveying a message or passion from the game developer. That passion or message can often be felt and absorbed through the gameplay in such a moving or impressive way that the gamer walks away carrying that feeling for a good amount of time.
Presently there are some big-name games that have been disappointments to the gaming community. These bungles have also been a contributing factor as to why indie gaming has come to the forefront of the gaming world. The bigger name games that disappoint their audiences, the more indie gaming will continue to thrive.
But whereas big name games and gaming development studios with massive budgets release games to increase their popularity and income further, the rise in indie gaming also manages to bring about financial stability to the indie development community, helping more games to be created and more hearts to be captured.
The danger behind indie gaming is that it could very well end up turning into a mainstream source of gaming, removing the meaning behind indie altogether. So long as the indie gaming industry continues to output unique games that strive to challenge current gaming conventions and give audiences a new experience, there’s nothing to worry about.
Indie gaming is all about moving away from the norm and providing gamers with out-of-the-box thinking and concepts. Stories in games can easily be messed up or come out as being underwhelming as they’re usually cut and pasted onto gameplay mechanics and don’t meld in a way that gives the story justice. In other words, some developers see a story to be something that needs to be added rather than a way to bring a game to life to win the hearts as well as the minds of gamers. When forward-thinking indie game developers think about implementing a story, they find a way to build the gameplay around that, and often with some memorable indie games like Bastion and Her Story, the story is what we remember the most.
And with crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter and Patreon, indie game studios have an easy way to gain funding so they can continue to give audiences the unique experiences they crave from indie games. So long as the ideas keep coming and those ideas are unique and interesting, the public will continue to help fund the indie gaming scene.