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Gamasutra - The State of Indie Gaming

by Magerette, 2008-04-30 17:04:36

This Gamasutra article by Juan Gril of Joju Games and formerly head of Yahoo Games Studio, takes a look at the current status of indie game development from a casual games perspective. He starts out with his definitions of 'indie': 

 There is a big discrepancy right now in the definition of an indie game. On one hand, you've got those who think that the word "independent" means "independent funding". In other words, the development is financed by the developer. On the other hand, you've got those who think that the word "independent" means "independent thought", which means those games where the design was not dictated by middle managers.

I'm more inclined for the latter definition, as the truth is that in most cases you will need a significant chunk of money to create an independent game, and regardless where you get that money from, what matters is that the game was created following a creative-led game design idea.

Here is then my own definition of an independent game:

An independent game is above all trying to innovate and provide a new experience for the player. It is not just filling a publisher's portfolio need. It has not been invented at a marketing department. And it has not been designed by a committee.

It's a six page article, going into such things as who is the audience, available platforms beginning but not limited to PC, the significance of downloads, browser indies, and concluding with the challenges of producing a profitable indie game:

How many good independent games have you seen that don't make money? I can count dozens every year. Adding more salt to the wound, if there would [be] a "Big Publisher" push towards the channels independent game makers are using today to get their wares out, it's just going to be even harder to compete.

We need to find a way to create an effective ecosystem to make sure that the good talent finds a way to economic success - including more and more public independent games festivals that have wider remits.

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