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The Increased Prevalence of Indie Games Has Opened The Gaming Industry to Newcomers

Indie games throughout the time the gaming industry has been around were a relatively sparse and risky endeavor that often depended on how well the small-time developers were able to get the word out about their passion project. In recent years for a large sum of those creators who had an idea that they wished to share but no avenue to reduce their risk with have gotten a voice and platform for which to share and create.


During the digital era especially with the advent of digital copies of games the indie market grew and developed into what it is now. Early definers in this market such as Braid, Super Meat Boy, Fez, and what is now the most sold video game of all time Minecraft. The market for new ideas has become extraordinarily prevalent and can be seen quite clearly with the massive volume of games available on the digital marketplace Steam.


Scott Cawthon the developer behind the Five Nights at Freddy's series certainly has had his development career turned upside down. Prior to his work on the Five Nights at Freddy's series he had made a vast sum of games all of which were not tied to the horror element that pervades his greatly loved series. He latched onto a criticism surrounding his previous kid friendly games, the characters looked scary to some people like animatronic machines with weird unnatural movements. He worked to turn that criticism into a positive for his next idea and it started what is now one of the biggest horror franchises to exist even beyond the realm of gaming. Creativity blooms with criticism and what might be your weak points in one area may also be your greatest strength in another.


This is all made easier by project funding websites like Kicstarter, Patreon, and indiegogo. Some of my personal favorite titles throughout the years have come from these little campaigns like Undertale, Lisa, and Omori. All games that harken back to a jrpg style adventure akin to the Mother series also known as Earthbound here in the United States.


That's certainly not saying that these project funded campaigns always turn out well, there are plenty of instances where project goals were not delivered. Many of these campaigns stifled under long development times leading to collapses in projects with a fully finished product or no product whatsoever. Other campaigns such as Project Phoenix were considered scams after backer money was determined to be put towards the developer's other game Tiny metal.


One of the most infamous kickstarter failures which was not a game in itself but an entire video game console called the Ouya. The Ouya was marketed as an android based microconsole with the twist that the console itself was also a development kit for developers to take aim at their own creations. Its failure largely stemmed from a lackluster rollout, an influx of android phone ports, and a failure to have developers adopt the platform. Risk is always a factor that must be considered in backing project on crowdfunding websites.


Good or bad there are indie studios that get picked up by big publishers like EA or Activision and have their project funded by a larger entity with more resources than they could hope to have were they still developing independently. Whether there's a sacrifice of vision when taking independent works and going under the umbrella of a publisher is up in the air. Certainly though as a result of these acquisitions the talent and creativity of these developers is recognized.


There are some independently developed games that have their humble start as freeware titles, open and free to the public at no charge. One title being Oneshot which made its mark by displaying fourth wall breaking meta gameplay that would use files on your computer as tools for solving puzzles. Many of these freeware titles garnered so much love by people that developers created definitive editions of these games and sold them to people hungry for more of a beloved work to give them support.


The love for indie games is only growing in recent years too with Nintendo even making a whole dedicated showcase to the upcoming indie games making their way to the platform. Nindies showcases have been occurring since February 28th 2017 and onward with the most recent occurring on May 11th 2022. They've made the indie scene a part of their brand with Indieworld which has its own separate twitter and section on Nintendo's website.


The world of possibility, creativity and innovation are ablaze in the video game industry where no one style monopolizes the market of ideas. What's to come is boundless and infinite only limited by what the human mind can come up with. I am excited to see industries' smallest voices get a megaphone and show the world what beautiful worlds they can create.


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