21 Mar 2009

The State of Indie Games

In my interview with 360 Magazine, I pointed out that the landscape of games consumers is becoming much more like that of music. As the average age of gamers goes up, we'll find more grumpy old men who are stuck in their ways and know what they like, however unfashionable. That's part of the reason why we focus on reinventing new blends of old games, rather than jumping on the latest (and most expensive) new bandwagon.

Another way that games are becoming like music is in the democratisation of the indie scene. Sir Tim Rice mentioned once on an episode of Top Gear that back in the day, if a record found its way to him then it must mean that lots of people in the production chain must've liked it - otherwise the record wouldn't have got pressed. These days, any talentless numpty can bang out MP3s from the comfort of their bedroom (I know this as I'm one of them). Whilst this allows a greater freedom of access to the market, it means that natural quality control filters are no longer in place.

Community Games has come under some flak on various message boards I've been on because there's a lot of mediocrity. As gaming becomes more pervasive (think iPhone, Facebook, DSi) there are going to be more indie developers, and less quality control. There's a good reason why publishers like EA have stringent and tough concept approval processes - because a lot of crap gets suggested.

In five years' time, are we going to be inundated with a whole heap of cack games? How long before a nugget of shining goodness comes from a complete outsider? Are the popular indie games of tomorrow going to be the gaming equivalent of Tay Zonday's Chocolate Rain, or even worse, the Kersal Massive?