It’s a topic that comes up from time to time out there as game development costs contiunue to rise – Why are there no indie video games?.
Good question. With the barrier to entry in the market being so high, the “little guy” has to be all that much better or have deep pockets to be even able to compete! I”ve always been a fan of games made by the small teams, or by just one guy who spent his savings bringing out something of worth. I’ve seen that independant gaming hasn’t died on the PC platform, thanks in no small part to the power of word of mouth on the internet.
Games like Mount and Blade, developed by a couple in Eastern Europe, have built up a small following and brought enough income to the authors to continue to work on and improve their impressive title. Little freeware gems like Cave Story (aka. Doukutsu Monogatari) or Lyle in Cube Sector have also had a small impact in gamers playspace. On a much bigger scale Galactic Civilizations II by independant developer Stardock has seen wide distrobution and mainstream press praise.
On the console side of things, indie developers have had a much harder time until recently. One of the successes from the last generation of consoles was Alien Hominid. A self funded 2D scrolling game that evolved from a simple flash game, and they were able to market it and get it picked up by a publisher to be released on the Playstation 2, Gamecube and Gameboy Advance.
With the “next” generation of consoles on the way, with greater connectivity to the internet, and their own little marketplaces for buying new content the possibility of indie game developers having success has already happened. Take Geometry Wars for the XBOX 360. It’s not in the stores, and can only be downloaded from their XBOX Live Marketplace. For a good many months it was the most played XBOX 360 game. Continued support for small developers by Microsoft and hopefully it’s competition (Nintendo and Sony) could mean that the “little” guy has a chance to have his game seen and make a profit outside the normal retail chain and outside the huge budgets required to make an entry into that world.