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How indie games impact our current console systems

Posted by Jason on March 11, 2015 at 6:00 AM


How indie games impact our current console systems

Saying that indie games have influenced current console systems is a wild understatement. Anyone that knows indie games history will be quick to affirm that if indie games didn't exist current console systems would not have so rapidly evolved or they would totally suck.


Indie games are:


The definition of indie games i.e. Independent video games is widely debated based on the defining party's interests. They are digital video games created by individuals & sometimes small teams, without the overhead management and financial support of the video game publisher.


Indie games history:


Indie game development started in PC's in the 70's mostly depending on shareware models for distribution. They were a cool factor among computer geeks at the time and due to the limited technology at the time were seen as miracles of the 'modern tech' of the era. Restricted by computer power, they were primarily 2D and as computers increased in power and user expectations increased they changed from primary 2D to 3D.


Shooters and action games were particularly liked, with titles such as 'Doom' being widely adopted by an estimated 10 million people playing it within two years of its release. Apart from popularizing indie games, shooters, and action games proved shareware as a viable model of game distribution and sparked the interests of larger game development industries in indie game development.


The introduction of 3D changed indie games history. Development now involved massive amounts of work, and it was no longer realistically possible to develop a good game as an individual, they required sizeable teams. The latter half of the 2000s was an exciting part of Indie games history, and it saw increased development and adoption of indie games by the general public. Due to the expansion of the Internet, online distribution enabled the indie developers to tap into a wider market. Platforms like Onlive, Steam,, the Humble Store and Xbox Live Arcade allowed developers to publish and gamers to download the independently developed games.


Fast forward to now, almost every major console manufacturer has some form of support for indie game development and distribution. Manufacturers like Sony (ps3/ps4/vita), Microsoft (Xbox 360/Xbox one), even Nintendo with its Wii consoles all support indie development. The impact of indie games in the volatile gaming industry has forced even the behemoths to support them if they are to remain relevant.


Current characteristics of indie games.


They rely heavily on direct digital distribution.


They can be developed by individuals, small teams, or small independent companies (usually formed to develop only one game).


The games publishers do not financially back game developers. However, publishers may work with development advising them on best standards for development.


Developers work with Software development kits built and supplied by publishers e.g. Sony and Onlive to optimize their games to better work on publisher distribution platforms.


Why indie games are great


There are no creative limitations imposed by publishers and overhead management.


Being independently made, developers do not have controlling interests that may kill off their ideas if they conflict with controllers goals.


Design freedom since they do not require publisher approval as mainstream game developers hence more applications of current trends.


Small dedicated teams with no creative restrictions have made indie games innovative, and future driven breaking gaming norms. Developers with limited resources for graphics creation rely on innovation to remain relevant.


Impacts on current console systems


Increased number of games on consoles: Due to the large number of independent developers publishing indie games into current console platforms, the number of available games has increased. Players thus have a wider range of gaming options for them to utilize for their enjoyment.


Changes game development: large distributors are changing the way they develop their games for them to have an indie feel. Smaller development teams as in indie development have proved to be better and more productive to the development. Strict overhead supervision is also being removed, and creativity being encouraged and implemented. Changes have the effect of better games with more recent technologies.


Contributed to more advanced games: due to the limited budgets associated with indie game development, developers are forced to compensate usually lower quality graphics with superior gameplay to captivate players. Improvements in indie gameplay lead to increased innovation in overall game development thus better games that are yearly evolving.


More advanced consoles: independent developers have more freedom in terms of application of their ideas, and since overhead bureaucracy and budgets don't limit them, they are quick to adopt new technologies. They being a step ahead forces console makers to catch up with these technologies and design more advanced consoles that can handle them.


Social aspect: Indie games history proved that gamers like sharing their games and game play. Indie games were for a long time distributed as shareware and relied on direct distribution from person to person. Recently more console makers are borrowing pages from indie books and supporting sharing through online networks like Microsoft's Xbox live network and the Sony PlayStation network. In these networks, players can share gameplay, play socially and recommend games to fellow players.


Game distribution changes: Indie games history proved that the distribution via online channels is viable and better option of delivery. Though indie game developers used online channels due to limited budgets, through recent releases and increase of internet speeds it has become the best distribution method. Large game developers and distributors have embraced methods such as online viral marketing and ensuring consoles have internet connection capabilities for rapid distribution of new releases.


Determining adoption of new console systems: Adoption of new game consoles mostly depends on availability of games on launch. Indie developers publish a large fraction of games and the platforms they choose to favor always has a competitive advantage over other consoles. Over the lifespan of the console, presence of hit game titles on a console's platform will also boost its sales and adoption by gamers.


Indie games have largely influenced current console systems and it's easy to see that if indie games didn't exist your favorite console would be entirely different.

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