What Does Indie Mean in Games?
The term indie refers to independently-developed video games created without the financial and publishing support of a major game publisher. Although independence and creativity often come hand-in-hand with the term, it’s important to note that indie games can be of varied genres and art styles and often fill otherwise underserved niches in the gaming industry.
Indie’s Growing Presence in the Industry
Indie games have grown in popularity over the years, with several popular titles emerging onto the market, such as “Spelunky”, “Hotline Miami”, and “Braid”. They are often low-cost or free-to-play and thus appeal to a wide range of gamers, from casual to hardcore.
The growth of digital distribution services such as Steam, Itch.io, and the App Store have made it easier for developers to self-publish and make their work available to players. This has helped many indie games gain recognition through the word-of-mouth, as well as feature spots on the storefronts, taking them from obscurity to the mainstream.
Indie’s Identity and Community
Indie games often attract players in search of a more personal gaming experience and creative gameplay. Many indie developers take influence from their own creative and life experiences, giving these games a unique perspective on the industry. On the other hand, blockbusters may possess more polished art, sound, and technology, but are designed more for marketability, allowing for a more generic playing experience.
The indie game community is immensely supportive and welcoming, with many events and game jams held around the world having featured indie games as main attractions. This has fostered an open dialog between developers, players, and fans alike that is unique to the indie space.
Indie games have come a long way since their humble beginnings as bedroom projects, and they continue to forge the way forward in the gaming industry. For the developers, it’s a chance to make unique experiences, while players can discover something special, often different from what’s offered in the mainstream market.
Pros of Indie Games:
- Creative and artistic freedom
- Champion creative, often niche ideas
- Diverse art styles tailored for specific interests
- Low-cost or free-to-play experiences
Cons of Indie Games:
- Less polished graphics, sound, and tech
- Harder to distribute and promote
- Shorter game lengths and less content than retail titles