Schools Training

Video Games Going Indie

15 APR 2013
Career Path : Computers and Technology

The video game market is clearly in a time of transition. While the industry has traditionally relied on the development of major blockbuster titles for the big selling consoles (Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation, etc.), declining hardware sales and the rise of free-to-play software is opening up the market to a new generation of small, independent mobile-game developers. As internet connectivity has become ubiquitous, the former barriers to industry entry are falling and there are more opportunities available to developers than ever before. At this year’s international Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, more than half of attendees identified themselves as indie developers and their next creations will be for smartphones and tablets.


Pong to Present

Independent video games are just about as old as video games themselves. One of the first video games, Pong, was created by one individual working for Atari, and though that company became a large corporation, today’s indie developers are often similarly solitary creators who sacrifice money, health and sanity to share their visions with the world. One of the biggest developments has come from distribution access. The advent of personal computers first permitted programmers to store, copy and redistribute games using floppy disks, leading to the concept of “shareware”, games that could be played for free with certain restrictions.


In the early twenty-first century, the Internet turned indie games into a global sensation. The unlimited distribution and online gaming options made possible has enabled many success stories to occur, both financially and in terms of innovation. Instead of going through major developers, aspiring developers can sell their games through their own websites or networking platforms. Major games frequently use multiple companies comprised of large teams working in parallel to meet development deadlines. Indie games don’t typically have large teams or hard deadlines so can integrate design and technology more freely to create games unlike anything else. With technology at the heart of design from the start, the player experience can be greatly enhanced.


Emerging Business Models

New business models such as crowd-funding, development incubators and micro-transactions are reshaping the gaming industry while the big guns are taking notice and reaching out to make it easier for creators. For example, Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 will be essentially a “supercharged PC” that will allow developers to more easily create and sell games. Nintendo and Microsoft are holding information sessions at the GDC to outline easier ways of making apps and games for smartphones. Meanwhile, the artsy indie-developed “Journey” game was up for the most awards at the conference.


With thousands of new games vying for the public’s limited attention, new networking and funding companies have emerged to focus on launching worthy candidates. Video-game start-ups with balanced teams possessing a combination of ingenuity gleaned from computer courses and industry experience are most sought by investors. The future of indie gaming is bright indeed as anyone with skills in Flash or web design from a computer college can find a ready outlet for their creative passion.


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