So, what is an indie game?
From Limbo to Stardew Valley, some of the most popular and beloved games have debuted as independent games.
When we think of indie games, our minds often jump to pixelated art styles or unique narrative-driven experiences. But exactly what classifies a game as an indie game?
What is an Indie Game?
So, what does Indie Game mean?
An indie game is a video game made with much smaller resources than what’s needed for what is known as AAA games.
Indie games have many shapes and sizes, offering unique games and experiences across many different genres. Many of these games still stand toe-to-toe with the most popular AAA games and offer unique styles of play that you won’t find anywhere else.
Moreover, an indie game is developed by an indie game developer.
What is an Indie Game Developer?
Indie game developers are independent entrepreneurs who create and publish their own video games.
Video games from indie devs can range from simple puzzle games on your phone to massive 3D open-world adventure games for PCs or consoles.
This means that as far as salaries go, there’s no set amount an independent game developer makes—it depends largely on what type of game they make and its success in the marketplace.
If you’re curious about indie game dev salary, check out “How Much Do Game Developers Make“.
What are Indie Game Publishers?
Unlike the big-name, mainstream publishers that dominate the market, indie game publishers, like Playsaurus, focus on nurturing smaller, often experimental, and innovative projects developed by independent creators.
These passionate and skilled developers may not have access to the vast resources of typical game publishers, but what they lack in financial support, they gain in creative freedom.
By prioritizing quality and originality over mass appeal and profit, those publishers create refreshing and memorable experiences for gamers seeking a more personal and unconventional gaming journey.
Some of the most popular indie game publishers are:
- Indie Fund
- Devolver Digital
- Double Fine Presents
- Paradox Interactive
- Team 17
- Adult Swim
- Versus Evil
Isn’t it fascinating how indie publishers challenge the gaming industry’s status quo and pave the way for undiscovered talent to blossom?
History of Indie Games
Indie games first appeared in the early 90s. But they only gained more attention in the 2000s as the gaming industry evolved.
The first indie game to truly make an impact was Super Meat Boy released in 2010. Since then more and more developers have put out amazing new games for gamers of all types.
As such, there’s now a huge range of the best indie games for different types of players – from complex puzzle platformers like Baba Is You to super chill adventure titles like Chill Corner.
In the past decades, indie RPGs, or indie RPG games have become more popular as many of their features stand out from mainstream games—whether that is due to ingenuity in storytelling or atmospheric visuals.
Although an individual or small team created many popular indie games, we are seeing larger indie game companies getting in on the action these days too.
It is now easier for developers to publish their new indie games without traditional publisher assistance, providing wider opportunities and more freedom.
Having fewer restrictions from large companies also allows creators to experiment with different gameplay and story possibilities with no strings attached. It can even provide access to a more diverse voice in gaming.
Indie games have quickly become integral to most digital distribution platforms like Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network. Many of the most successful indie games rely on WoM (word of mouth) marketing to reach their audience and maximize their profits.
Furthermore, the low price point for most of these games can help create viral growth that brings in more gamers to download, play and recommend their favorite indie games.
Indie Game Development: Characteristics, Process, and Cost
Let’s look at indie games’ characteristics, the process of making indie games, and the cost.
Here are the five main points to consider a game as an indie game.
- Low budget and small development team
- Creative freedom
- Unique gameplay mechanics and art style
- Focus on innovation and experimentation
- Emphasis on player experience
Above all, indie developers place a strong emphasis on the experience of the players. A great deal of emotion can be conveyed in indie games without the need for expansive budgets or large production teams.
How to Make an Indie Game
While it might seem like a daunting task, with a little interest and dedication, anyone can create an amazing indie game.
The process of making an indie game typically involves:
- Determining what kind of game you’d like to make
- Developing ideas and concepts
- Building the game
- Playtesting and iteration
- Publishing and distribution
Once you’ve developed your concept, you’ll need to move on to actually making the game. Plus, you must know about coding, game design, and marketing.
If you’re serious about making an awesome product, don’t be afraid to research how others have gone about their own projects or seek help from experienced professionals!
Cost to Develop an Indie Game
According to estimates from various sources, developers should expect to spend at least $10,000-$30,000 USD for an average-sized indie game.
The biggest expense is programming, with estimates ranging from a few thousand dollars up to several hundred thousand dollars for more complicated games.
One great way to cover some of these fees is by taking on video game internships. This gives you access to industry experts, helps defray costs, and gives you inside insight into the gaming world.
Developers should also consider budgeting for marketing costs such as advertising and PR, which can run anywhere from $2,000-$30,000 depending on how big you plan your campaign to be.
While these estimates may seem daunting, creating a great product without breaking the bank is possible if you are organized and have a solid plan of action.
With their inventive storytelling, vibrant visual and auditory effects, and often simpler mechanics to learn and master, indie games are pioneering the way for an exciting new era of gaming.
These games can sometimes transition from an indie game studio to big hits on major consoles. As the gaming industry becomes more competitive and players look for creative, new experiences, indie games will remain key players in setting the tone for popular games.
At this rate, we can anticipate even more amazing games from indie game developers in the coming years!