Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rise of the indie game

I think I'm going to buy Delve Deeper when it comes out on Steam today, as I liked the demo, and it supposedly will cost only $5. My last three Steam purchases were Puzzle Quest 2 for €14.39, Recettear for €14.99, and Kings Bounty: Crossworlds for €14.99 with Kings Bounty: The Legend thrown in for free when I prepurchased it. Together that makes 4 great indie games for €50.

It used to be that games that cost $15 on release were hard to get, as many shops found their shelf space was too valuable to stock cheaper games, especially those not coming from big publishers. But the rise of the digital distribution platform was a boon for the indie games. Of course some people try to sell their games via their own website and collect payments by Paypal, but for example this weekend the Minecraft website went down, because there are now so many players that the servers couldn't support the load when people were trying to download the latest patch.

With better availability comes greater media coverage. Both Bastion and Skulls of the Shogun were mentioned in the Machinima Best of PAX 2010 video, although they aren't even released yet. Of course that is helped by PAX actually having indie game booths, those are rarer at the more expensive game expos.

Now of course a $15 game usually doesn't have quite the polish and graphical excellence that a $60 title has. But then most of the $60 titles are sequels nowadays, while in indie games you can find everything from remakes of forgotten great games to completely new ideas never seen before. Some games are very niche, but if you happen to like that particular niche you are now more likely to find a game that suits you. Often you can get a demo, and even if you end up not liking a game, you don't lose all that much money. So I'm quite happy with this current development, and I'm looking forward to discovering more great little games.

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