Home > Uncategorized > What Makes Indie Games Indie

What Makes Indie Games Indie

So why exactly are indie games you ask? Why are they different than main stream games? Well here’s a little information about the video game industry.

There are four levels of production to get a game from an idea to a store’s shelves:

Developer – Blizzard, Naughty Dog

The developer(s) can be one person or a team of X amount of people that actually get their hands dirty. They come up with the idea, plan out development, create graphics, program the game, etc. This is where all you programmers and artists are, where all the fun takes place! But also means living off spam and rice until your game is done.

Publisher – EA, Valve

After a developer comes up with the idea, they create some sort of demo to pitch to a Publisher. The publishers pick and choose games that they believe will sell. Publishers pretty much have control over a game because they are the ones paying the developers because the developers need the money to keep making their game. They also need the people who can get their game out on store shelves.

Manufacturer – Sony, Microsoft

The manufacturers create the mediums that games are played; computers/consoles/handhelds. Developers have to to spend big bucks on prototype or developer versions of the consoles (much often the same now-a-days except for a few jumper pins for debugging) in order to develop on the systems. Though for computers, you can start right away, as long as you have one and the write software! Manufacturers also regulate the games on their systems (once again except PC, unless your talking about digital distributing platforms like Steam. In that case Valve has the say on what games go on their storefront.) and create the CDs, ROM carts, and what not that gamers buy.

Licenses – NBA, Pokemon, Halo

This plays a major role in getting the game out there. A baseball game would hardly make it out of the shipping box at the store if it didn’t have an NBA logo. You often have to pay big bucks to acquire popular licenses, but it almost guarantees your game will sell because gamers will recognize the label.

And that’s how most main steam games are produced. Keep in mind, some companies combine all four steps under one roof, so they have in house development teams and what not. Which costs less but ends up creating less motivated employees.

So what do indie games do that are different? Well its often just the development team doing everything. Now that may sound like the fore mentioned paragraph but indie developers do it different.

Indie equals independent. Solo. Alone. With no help.  They create their game by them selves, with a friend, or a relatively small team that are dedicated to their vision. They promote their own game and sell it using services like PayPal eliminating the need of a publisher. But this also eliminates their paychecks, so everything comes out of their own pocket, aside from donations and sales later on. Most indie games are found on the PC/Mac so they don’t really need a manufacturer to create hardware or CDs/ROM carts, everything is digitally distributed.

But there have been so-called indie games on consoles and platforms like Steam. Are they indie games? Well that’s been quite a controversial topic, because in reality, they are getting help with sales and promotion. Everything is just handled differently. So some people say they aren’t indie games, some say they are.

But personally, indie games stand out in the industry because they aren’t the same formula used in hundreds of other games on the market; murder simulators, button mashers, etc. They often use the good ‘ole classic genres with retro graphics or some totally new game mechanic with hand drawn sprites. But when it all comes down to it, indie games are intuitive and original games that leave an impact on your mind.

But that’s what I just define as indie.

  1. August 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

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