History & the future of Indie Games

indie games

Indie game developers have crafted some of the most original content and thrilling games during the last decade. Masterpiece titles such as Limbo, The Unfinished Swan, Goat Simulator and even Hotline Miami have dawned a new age in game development. Indie games have grown into their own industry, with games like Minecraft now defining the next generation’s childhood. In the last twenty years, what has made these small ventures into the video game industry become so grand in scale. How can it surpass its current fame?

The Dawn of Independent Games

Independent games, for the majority of their existence, have been played on a personal computer. In the early days, finding an indie game for consumers to purchase or play was a rarity. Often indie games were crafted by hand by developers for their own personal enjoyment. These programs or games were consistently saved on a tape based drive. The chances of that tape being duplicated were not in the favor of the consumer. There were a few games that were published to the market but they weren’t purchased on a mass scale by customers. Big name publishers ran the video game industry at that point in time. It wasn’t until the early 90’s when the internet became a household item that independently crafted games gained a ray of sunshine.

Shareware Saved Independent Developers

During the late 80’, releasing an indie game into the market was essentially impossible. The video game market was dominated by Nintendo & Sony. These companies required that games being released for their system must be first approved by the manufacturer of the console. This was far from an easy and quick process. Getting the game into the hands of Nintendo was inconceivable if you weren’t already known is a famed developer. At this point in time, independent developer were hobbyists. What they didn’t know was that their salvation was right around the corner.

This salvation came in the form of shareware. This platform has been the home for some of the most famous titles released in video game history. Games including Doom, Wolfenstein 3D & many others came from independent developers using shareware. These games were able to be released by the developer themselves thanks to the shareware method, publishers were left out of the equation. Shareware unfortunately never reached its full height and didn’t become the next great thing for gamers. It did, however, show the world that developers can release a game by themselves, through the PC without the need for big publishers.

Modern Indie Games

In history, it’s often impossible to locate the exact snowflake which caused a figurative avalanche but with indie games, it’s the opposite. The first game to set the indie game age was Cave Store, this happened ten years ago. This video game was crafted by Daisuke Amaya during his free time, it took him a total of five years to develop. He wrote, designed, composed and coded everything in the game himself. Cave Story originally was released a freeware game over the personal computer. It quickly went viral with its throwback style and compelling storyline. Millions of players were drawn to the game and in moths, Cave Story was available on every platform including Xbox, PSP, Linux, Dreamcast and even the TI Graphing Calculator.

Nintendo, still one of the leading video game publishers realized how popular this game had become. It was then released on the Wii, being sold for profit for the first time. An enhanced version of the game was released on the 3DS back in 2012. This was eight years after the game had originally been released. Hobbyist developers realized that it was now plausible to get their games into the hands of players through digital publishing houses.

Since 2004, Valve, a video game developer who turned into a publishing house has had a digital distribution channel for PC Gamers. At that point it time, it was still widely disliked by gamers but as more indie games broke through the barrier, the platform becomes more popular to the point that indie games now rule over the Steam Network. Indie games are some of the most popular & played ever on a mainstream console with Minecraft being the most popular ever.

Indie Games on Xbox Live

Xbox Live, the most popular gaming network around the globe is considered to be supportive of the indie industry. Even with the Steam Network, Xbox is quickly rising in the amount of indie games available on the network. They even have their own development software. It’s suspected that in the next three years, Xbox will surpass Steam.