Indie Games

As a relatively hard-core gamer (for some liberal value of "hard-core", as I don't have a lot of time to play these days), I am constantly surprised at the odd successes in the casual game market. I would think that among the most played games on the Web these days are Slayers, Werewolves, Vampires, & Zombies, and Scrabulous. I mean, I know, personally, only a handful of people playing. But none of those people are hard-core gamers, and the number of people in the world that are not hard-core gamers is counted in billions. And they're all apparently on Facebook, making Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire.

Meanwhile, I still grind away at more "important" games. Something's not right.

The state of Indie Games is an odd one: the old method of "selling someone a game" doesn't apparently work too well anymore. You have to sell a game to a company who wants to give it away for free, as part of a service bundle or advertising. You have to fund it through advertising, or selling collected data. You have to hope for a runaway hit like Bejewelled.

Which is a bit of a shame. The middleground doesn't exist anymore, where a small team can put together a modestly sized game in less than a year: such a project costs hundreds of thousands of dollars these days, and must be more than modestly successful. A tiny bit of overinvestment in a game that doesn't produce returns can doom a developer. And all of these super-light almost-not-a-game games that are "free" to players enjoying the success that they do,.. it's like I'm taking crazy pills. Yes, I want some very quick games as my free time asymptotically approaches zero, but really, I'd like something a little more developed than a web page refresh.

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IEEE Spectrum’s gaming blog was retired in 2010, but it is preserved here for archival reference.

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