In recent years, the video game industry has seen a rise in the popularity of indie games. These small-scale games, typically developed by independent studios or individuals, have captivated the hearts and minds of gamers worldwide. While they may not have the same level of resources or financial backing as their AAA counterparts, indie games have proven time and time again that they can compete with the big boys in terms of quality, innovation, and artistic expression.
In this article, I will show you the charm of indie games and explain why they are often considered much better than AAA titles. So grab your controller and get ready to discover why the gaming industry is led by indie games.
1. Indie Games Are Motivated by Passion and Not by Profit
Indie games are made by passionate individuals or small teams with a vision for their projects. Since they are so invested in the game, they try to offer consumers the best product they can create. Many AAA studios nowadays throw away the passion and vision of a great game. Instead, they focus solely on financial and gameplay metrics, such as profit, spending, player retention, and playtime.
2. Well-developed Mechanics and Gameplay
Indie game developers usually bring the game mechanics and story to perfection. This is because they don’t have to meet strict deadlines as AAA games do. This results in a more engaging and fun game experience and fewer bugs upon release.
3. Original and Experimental Games
Indie games usually have original or experimental ideas, unique gameplay mechanics, creative storytelling, and art styles. Indie games strive to be unique and innovative to satisfy and entertain the player. In contrast, AAA games nowadays tend to rehash the same concepts of older video games with better graphics or audio. Want to see a really original indie game idea? Check out Among Us.
Among Us is a game where players are randomly assigned roles as crewmates or impostors on a spaceship. Crewmates must complete tasks around the ship while trying to identify and vote off any impostors among them. Impostors must sabotage the crewmates and try to kill them without being caught. The graphics are simple, and there is not much audio. But, the idea of the game and the teamwork make this game a very popular indie game currently on the market.
4. Indie Games Are More Affordable Than AAA Games
Indie games are more affordable to the average consumer. Some indie games are free, but the free ones are usually demo versions of the complete game. Indie games cost between $3 – $20, while AAA games can cost anywhere from $50 – $100. Instead of buying a single AAA game, you can get several indie games for the same price.
5. Indie Games Are Tailored to a Specific Audience
Indie games are tailored to a specific audience, while AAA games target a broad market. AAA studios must justify their large budgets, so they design games for mass market appeal. While this approach may suit some players, many love playing indie games that are truly unique and tailored to their preferences.
A creative game that comes to mind is Cuphead. This is an action game with a unique art style and music. The art style in the game was inspired by 1930s cartoons with hand-drawn animation. The background music in the game is classical jazz music. This game would not appeal to a mass market audience. But, it is perfect for old-style action game lovers.
6. Closer Relationship Between the Developer and the Player
You can contact the developer of the game directly and talk to them. The conversations usually revolve around opinions of the game, bugs, and enhancements that players want. This creates a close relationship between developers and their communities. If you have an issue with an AAA title you bought, good luck getting support from the company.
7. Indie Games Are Simpler and Shorter
AAA games are usually much longer and more complex to understand. Indie games on the other hand, are typically shorter, simpler to understand, and take less of your time, so you can play and enjoy a game that will take you several days or weeks to complete. In contrast, AAA games can take months or even years to finish (depending on how much time you play each day). People are sometimes overwhelmed by all the systems and massive amounts of content that AAA studios stuff into their games.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some complicated indie games too. Take a look at Factorio, for example. This is an automation development game where you must create automated machines for building stuff. The game is simple at first. As the game progresses, it gets increasingly difficult to manage thousands of production machines and transport systems. Factorio is not easy, but the core concept is relatively simple to understand.
Compare that to a game like Europa Universalis IV, a grand strategy game where you take control of a nation in the early modern era. In the game, you manage your city’s economy, diplomacy, military, and technology. The game offers a vast world map with over 4,000 provinces to conquer and colonize. This game can take you years to completely understand and get good at.
8. Indie Games Are Not Heavily Monetized
AAA titles usually have more advertisements, in-game purchases, and extra downloadable content. All these practices are designed to increase company profits, player retention, and playtime. You may get a poor and annoying game experience. On the other hand, indie games usually don’t monetize heavily, so you don’t feel like you have to spend money on each freaking item you want to have in the game.
9. Faster Bugfixes and Expansions
There are several reasons why indie games have faster bug fixes and expansion releases. First, the games are significantly smaller than AAA games, so the development and improvement cycles are much shorter. Second, bugs can be reported directly to the developers because of the tight relationship between the customer and the development team. And lastly, the small number of developers makes it much simpler to find bugs and fix them without strict bureaucracy.
All the points I described above don’t apply to all AAA games. There are some honestly good ones that are worth the time and money. However, they seem to be far fewer than what they used to be. So what do you think? Comment below on which is better, AAA or indie games. If you want more articles like this one, check out my Night Quest Games Blog. I have many articles about indie games and game development. And if you want to play some great indie games, go to itch.io and choose your game.