There was a point in recent history where movies, tv shows, video games, and books were developed and marketed by major corporations with big budgets. However, the internet and the rise in low-cost technologies, have allowed small and independent studios to create content that rivals those of the big companies. One industry that has benefited immensely from this change is the independent game scene.
The development and consumption of indie games has reached an all-time high and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The proliferation of platforms has only served to broaden the audience that play these games.
When one thinks about indie gaming, Apple doesn’t usually come to mind. The reality is that they have done a lot for the industry and their ultra popular iPhone led the charge. Apple relied on small developers to create games and apps to entice new customers. After all, without them, iPhone would just be another phone. Apple welcomed developers, large and small, and this is evident in the way they marketed to them and kept the costs low. But there is no arguing that no one has done more for indie gaming than the creators of the award-winning Half-Life series, Valve.
Valve’s Steam has allowed independent game developers, to publish their own titles and reach a whole audience without the need for traditional game publishing and the costs that come with it. However, this low barrier to entry has also made the indie game industry a lot more competitive. It is very difficult for an indie game to reach the same level of success as its mainstream counterpart. Nonetheless, the majority of developers are hobbyists and very few actually try to build a business much less make money.
The trend within the industry seems to be heading towards one where the same tools that companies like Bungie and Epic Games use, become available at either a low price point or for free. Although on the surface, it may not seem beneficial for triple A studios but upon further inspection, it makes total sense.
Games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto come with multi-million dollar costs. Whereas indie games costs much less to develop. If a certain game starts gaining traction and popularity among gamers then nothing stops the large studios from buying these games outright or taking a cut of the profits. This model is much more cost-effective for them but still presents the opportunity for extraordinary profits that exist with mainstream titles.
The current state of the industry is a win-win for all parties involved, especially the gamers, who never before in game history have had such a huge selection of titles to choose from. Whether it’s first-person shooters or casual games like Angry Birds, there is something for everyone.