Triple-A vs. Indie: Are Big Budget Games Now Simply Too Expensive?
The past few years have been an excellent time for new developers. With the new innovation of the indie game; a title that, despite created by a small and independent team working with a tiny budget, wows users with fresh, ingenious gameplay, graphics and style; players now have the opportunity to experience a huge number of different play-styles and a type of game that has not been seen for decades. These games, appearing rather basic to the triple-A title lover’s eyes, have utterly changed the gaming landscape, and appear poised to eat in to a heart of the established triple-A market.
There are lots of reasons why this change has been occurring. Firstly, in terms of cost, indie games are ridiculously more cost effective than producing a big budget game. Where in the early noughties you’d have to set up a team of fifty people, gain premises, buy a huge amount of cutting edge equipment, make a game that could very easily flop, then publish the thing; now you can get five friends together, make a game, and publish it through the established indie publishing channels that have built up over the past few years. Recent space-grinder ‘Destiny’ cost a shocking $500 million to produce, costing $60 in stores; compare that to ‘Thomas Was Alone’- an indie platformer that was highly praised by critics- which cost $5000 to make, costing $10 for the gamer.
Gameplay matters, however, and despite these indie titles being drastically cheaper to produce, are they more exciting? Part of the success of indie titles has been due to their often innovative means of presenting the story to the gamer and the refreshing styles of play that have come forth as a result. Take 2013’s ‘Among the Sleep’, a horror title in which the player plays the game from the point of view of a toddler whose nightmarish take on the world is revealed to be due to troubles within the family. Heartbreaking and extremely innovative, you could never imagine a triple-A title touching themes such as alcoholism or divorce. The reason- triple-A titles cost so much that they require huge sales to break even, thus requiring developers of these huge budget behemoths to pander to the lowest common denominator in an effort not to alienate their existing (or the mainstream) fan-base. Without these constraints, indie developers are free to explore their artistic whims, to excellent ends.
The rise of mobile gaming has also spurred developers on to create indie titles for a whole different type of customer; the casual gamer. Gamers playing through social media platforms, enjoying basic but tried and tested titles such as puzzles and word games, are a huge market, thanks to the spread of smartphones and tablets. With online casino gaming also enjoying a huge increase in the number of new players, sites such as mrsmithcasino and others are using all that new investment to create fun, interesting games that will likely be enjoyed and loved by around as many people as the number that play triple-A titles. With casual gamers, unaccustomed to 1080p graphics and the wonders of shading, cheap, simply fun games are enjoying a renaissance of sorts.