EWG Editorial: Let's Talk About Indie Games, Baby

-Calvin Tomlinson

As Empty Wallet Gamers, you should be enjoying the Indie Games that are around at the moment, there are so many great games that you can pick up for stupidly low prices. The market for Indie Games has absolutely exploded these past few years and there are some real gems popping up. But why are they doing so well? What’s changed over the past few years?

I started getting into Indie games for a few reasons, the main one being that they are so cheap, but also because I wanted something new. Playing all these big name, AAA titles starts to get a bit tedious, especially when you start to realise that you’ve been playing a certain series for years, and although you’re enjoying it, you start to get a little too comfortable, and then things start to get a little repetitive. I still play “big” games, but some of these indie titles have been a breath of fresh air to my view on gaming, and there are some really amazing, and original ideas being introduced. Some of the games I’m thinking about as I write this are; Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, Machinarium and things like Minecraft. There are so many more that I’ve played, and some that I’ve been following through their development, which is another fantastic thing about Indie Games. Sometimes you get front row seats to the building of the game, and you really what it grow and flourish.

Granted, some of you might not be so interested in that, but I’m working towards getting into game development and it’s absolutely amazing to see the ups and downs. In a sense, you’re almost taking the journey with them, not just enjoying the fruits of their labour. One game I’ve been following for a while is “Project Zomboid” (http://projectzomboid.com/blog/). They’ve been documenting both their successes and their many setbacks. The game looks fantastic, there’s a free demo in the download section, and you can purchase the game for just £4.99 (which includes all further updates) which compared to the price of a single AAA title, is ridiculous. Indie developers generally get really involved with the community so you’ll see quick bug fixes and constant development on these already brilliant games.

I mentioned Minecraft earlier, and I think that has played a pretty big part on the success of Indie Games as a whole. Minecraft absolutely exploded with popularity, and that led people like me to try and find more of these hidden wonders, and I’m glad I did. Something that I stumbled across during my search was http://www.humblebundle.com/, a brilliant little website where, every now and then, they’ll release a whole bunch of indie games, where you pay what you want and some of the proceeds go to charity. My Steam library is filled with games I’ve picked up from these bundles and I strongly encourage you to check them out.

I think the key to the success of Indie games is that they can make whatever we as gamers, and they as developers, want. Whereas all the bigger game development teams in the industry need to impress their publishers. A great example of this is the recent Kickstarter project, made by Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine Studios. Double Fine are responsible for some great games, like the cult classic Psychonauts (Which is sitting in my Steam Library and I am thoroughly looking forward to playing). They created a project on Kickstarter because they want to create a modern version of the classic point and click adventure game, but Publishers seem to think that this genre is dead. Double Fine turned to crowd funding and, so far, have made over $2,000,000 in a little over 10 days. This says wonders about Indie studios, and also gives me hope that some of the smaller, less successful game devs out there won’t lose sight of their goals, and will continue to pump out some really great games.

But what do you think? Do you enjoy Indie Games? If so, what’s your favourite?