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The proliferation of professional level video game engines through the internet has lead to a massive influx of indie games. There are thousands of indie games for sale over the internet now. Most are still of the quality often associated with the indie scene, but just like the corporate games market, there are legitimately great games that rise above the others to become popular and successful. Seeing an increase in the number of quality indie titles is great because they are needed now more than ever before in the gaming industry.
The “AAA” game has become an ever increasing presence in gaming. Many feel this is great, but as the market becomes saturated with the gaming equivalent of “Oscar-bait,” ever more pretentious games marked by bloated budgets that must sell amazingly well to become deemed a success. It’s a failing of the AAA label shifting from game quality to game budget. More companies are stepping into this field and the result is less titles overall. For example, Naughty Dog produced a Crash Bandicoot or Jak and Daxter game almost yearly before their shift to AAA with the Uncharted series. Now they produce one game every two years, and have the budget of a tiny nation to do it with. With less games at higher production values, one misstep could bust a developer. The flop of Ryse: Son of Rome is a major factor in the fall of developer Crytek.
With less mid-tier games being released thanks to major developers stepping into the AAA arena, indie games have risen to fill this void. Some of them have done a remarkably good job of it as well. No one doubts the volume of indie titles, there are thousands of them, it’s the quality that has always been suspect to buyers. For example, most of the XBLA indie titles should be used in a trial to have their creators barred from coding anything ever again. There are differing levels of quality though. A step above the garbage are the decent games, like Armillo or Cloudberry Kingdom, games that are worth the purchase. Finally, there’s the upper echelons of the indie world. Slender, Guacamelee, and Shovel Knight are amazing games that hold their own in the world of gaming, not just the indie scene, and with flexible pricing they can offer just as much dollar for dollar entertainment value as games developed traditionally.
Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are not blind to the rising success of the indie market. Thanks to the rise in indie games of sufficient quality, and the decline of mid-tier titles in recent years, console companies have turned to the indie community, giving them support in an effort to flesh out their own offerings to consumers and possibly capture a share of the next Angry Birds. Third parties abandoning the Wii U has forced Nintendo, a company infamous for its dealings with others, to welcome indie game developers with open arms, greatly easing restrictions for getting onto their eShop. To show how far indie games have come since the days of basement made homebrews, the upcoming No Man’s Sky was featured prominently by Sony on gaming’s biggest stage, E3. Not only that, the game has generated a lot of buzz, many deeming it the “winner” of the 2014 show.
If you haven’t given indie games a shot, now is the time.