Indies have arrived

IndieNoMansSky

Amidst a scarcity of big budget games, indies are stealing the spotlight

Looking through my Playstation 4’s media bar last night, I noticed something strange: a complete absence of big-budget, publisher-backed titles. There was the Destiny beta, of course, but nothing truly substantial, nothing I’ve actually bought. In fact, the beep of an empty disc tray is something of a running joke in my house — of course there’s nothing in there; we don’t even own a physical disc for the system.

For me, that’s incredibly weird. I’m not a primary consumer of AAA big-budget titles, but neither do I consider myself an indie gamer. I’m not prone to playing navelgazing, experiential indie titles; instead, I play scrolling shooters, platformers, role-playing games, kart racers, and brawlers. Seeing that my library consisted of nothing but indies came as a real shock to me.

But that’s a defining core of this generation: the walls have broken down, and all of a sudden indies sit flush alongside mainstream titles. New distribution models are allowing indie developers a voice, and they’re making that voice heard.

IndieHohokumElephant

So too is this becoming the major distinction between the Playstation 4 and its competition. The Xbox One and Wii U are cultivating their own library of bigger titles, but in the waiting periods between major releases, Sony receives a massive boost from indie support coupled with Playstation Plus.

For myself, that indie push has already worked in Sony’s favor. None of Playstation 4’s bigger release titles interested me even a bit, nor was I wooed by the promise of a new Infamous or Uncharted. But out of a barren and uninteresting launch lineup from both consoles, there was one game that stood out to me: Resogun. That solitary indie title made the difference. I bought a Playstation 4 over an Xbox One. (I didn’t need to debate the Wii U — Mario Kart and Smash Bros are 100% essential and non-negotiable.)

I’ll be straight with you: the Playstation 4 hasn’t come into its own yet, not for me. Nor has the Xbox One. But in between those long stretches where my Playstation 4 has acted as a Netflix 4, those glimmering bursts of play have all come from indies. Resogun. Towerfall Ascension. Rogue Legacy.

And even more so than any AAA release, Hello Games’ upcoming No Man’s Sky is capturing the imaginations of players and press. Add in Hohokum, The Witness, Velocity 2X, Nidhogg, and Jamestown Plus — that’s a promising lineup and a definite leg up for Sony.

IndieBelow

Wii U and Xbox One have secured their own indie exclusives, most notably Shovel Knight and Below, but they’ve got some catching up to do. I expect strong initiatives from Nintendo and Microsoft going forward — the future is bright for independent developers on all platforms.

Indies have arrived. It’s about time.

IndieNidhoggIndieWitnessIndieJamestown

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4 Responses to “Indies have arrived”

  1. Sam Merrifield Says:

    It’s a peculiar time for video games. A time where indie games are reigning supreme. There’s a couple more AAA titles that I am looking forward to for the rest of the year, but mostly I’m wanting more of those Indie titles.

    • catstronaut Says:

      Yep! And a lot of indies are becoming more gamey as well, so they fit right in without scrutiny. There are a number of bigger games I’m interested in this year, but they sure are taking a long time to come out!

  2. gameramblings Says:

    Its kind of weird that I originally bought a PS4 for The Witness and an Xbox One for Cuphead and the inevitable shmup line up. A generation ago, I picked up consoles for bigger titles like Final Fantasy. Its just strange how different everything is now.

    • catstronaut Says:

      I really want to get an Xbox One at some point, because the 360 is my favorite scrolling shooter console of all time. PS4 is apparently getting a new shooter from M2 and an Ikaruga dev, but Xbox One is getting a new game from the guys who made Eschatos/Ginga Force, which are my favorite shmups in a long time, and also a shooter from the Raiden devs. I’d rather shmup devs stuck to one console like last gen, but I guess you can’t have them all. I’m probably not gonna get another joystick anyhow, so I doubt it matters on that front.

      Cuphead also looks pretty good; hopefully the gameplay is as original as the graphical style. And of course I want to get the Master Chief collection, unless 343 bungles it :X

      I feel like aside from Nintendo consoles, my reasons for wanting one console or another are wildly out of line with what everyone else thinks. Who would have though that Resogun would sell me on the PS4? Or that an unrevealed niche shmup would be the reason to get an Xbox One?

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