Evolution or Devolution? The Rise of the Indie Game

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Much like Sony’s many recent game showcases, their Gamescom conference put a massive emphasis on indie games, as well as giving the developers a prime spot on the stage to talk about their ideas. A variety of new and interesting titles were announced from a slew of both up and coming developers, as well as industry veteran teams. Mike Bithell, developer of Thomas was Alone, confidently took the stage, showing off gameplay from his brand new stealth title, Volume, which he stated is inspired by Metal Gear Solid 2. Ninja Theory, creators of popular games such as Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and DMC, announced their new independent title, Hellblade, which looks to have an extremely high visual quality. Two other notable titles were shown; there was Rime, a gorgeous looking game that looks to be a mixture of Journey and Ico; as well as Wild, a brand new title from Rayman creator, Michel Ancel, which debuted to a rapturous applause from the audience.

It appears that more and more industry veterans are choosing to go indie, shunning the financial aid of a big studio in hopes they themselves can sell their idea to the market. Megaman legend, Keiji Inafune, set up a Kickstarter campaign last year for his heavily inspired Megaman game, Mighty No 9, which managed to raise over $4,000,000 by the end of it’s campaign. Project phoenix; another indie success story, being helmed by a number of industry veterans including famed Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu, managed to make ten times its initial finding goal on Kickstarter.

With indie games becoming more popular by the day, it is inevitable that more amateur developers will also take the opportunity to create their own game ideas. Whilst a lot of these amateur games are highly unpolished and hardly innovative, there is the odd sensation here and there that proves what a simple concept is capable of. Papers Please, also revealed to be coming to Playstation 4 at Gamescom, is one such game that took the outlandish idea of putting the player in the shoes of an immigration officer, and eventually crafted a sensation from it. No Man’s Sky also made a big splash when it revealed it’s first gorgeous gameplay trailer, especially when the developers revealed that the game had an endless amount of worlds to explore.

This is why these types of strange and weird ideas are so important for gaming at the moment. The industry has proved to be in a slight crisis after the last generation of consoles which proved to be a costly one. Games are becoming ever more expensive to make for popular franchises which means risky new properties are a commodity most studios can’t afford to take. It appears that it falls to the indie market to come up with new wacky and innovative ideas; after all, what else can you afford to do with a small budget game other than attempt to innovate. It’s become very obvious that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have seen this rise in indie gaming and are attempting to secure as many titles as they can for themselves in order to steal the biggest market share possible.

Does this come at a cost though? gamer’s are evidently becoming more frustrated with the lack of AAA titles being shown at these popular gaming events. Sony’s own handheld, the Playstation Vita, has practically become an indie machine; a stark contrast to the promise of console quality gaming on the go that was initially pitched. The same goes for the Playstation 4 which has an overwhelming amount of indie games to buy from the PS store, with only the promise of more high quality games to come in the future. Either way, the indie scene is still growing and adapting; new ideas and concepts are being pitched by amateurs and veterans every day, and the quality is only getting higher with each game.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of the gradual shift to a more indie focused gaming scene? Or would you rather see more blockbuster titles getting revealed more frequently?

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