The indie game scene on Steam

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      Have any of you guys looked through the indie games on Steam lately?

      It seems to me that while the AAA game space is garbage the indie section of the game industry is doing well.

      There are tons of great looking games out there which are even inexpensive to boot.

      I think this is because (as I have mentioned previously) the AAA space has little competition and the indie space has tons.  So one has no market motivation to do anything beyond minimal effort and the other has to evolve.


      I watch the new listings on Steam for my favorite genres, and there are many indie releases. I check out those that look especially interesting (titles/description/screens), for ones that are popular, or just for free demos I can try.

      I’d sort them like this:

      • Demo projects (done in a short time at an event, or for a school).
      • Decent attempts to copy popular gameplay. Vampire Survivors, for instance, spawned dozens of similar games.
      • Shovelware copycats.
      • Ports from mobile.
      • Labors of love, that are relatively unique and well-polished (rare). I think Vampire Survivors was one of these (although for all I know, it was copying an earlier game, like possibly Minecraft did with Infiniminer).
      • The occasional AA+ game.

      I’d say I see hundreds of releases a month (if not thousands). So there’s certainly competition in that regard, but I’m not sure it’s the healthy kind.

      The barrier for entry is so low that there’s an enormous amount of shovelware, which looks like everything else indie, and it’s hard to pick out anything good without relying on streamers, popularity metrics, or other influencers.

      In short, good games can easily be buried, which seems contrary to competition.


        Labors of Love is by far my favorite category!

        “In short, good games can easily be buried, which seems contrary to competition.”

        I don’t think a low entry to the market is bad.  I think that is good.  And as far as I am concerned the more competition the better.  That is why Indie often cranks out great games while AAA is a dumpster fire most of the time.

        But the statement good games can be buried I believe more a function of Steam than what we would just call the market.  If you go on Amazon right now and look for basically anything you are faced with the same situation where there are many many choices to the point where it’s hard to decide what is what.  But that is a function of Amazon and in their case some of that confusion is intentional.


        Does competition for eyeballs result in better quality? If gamers never even see a game, how can it impact the quality of future games?

        So, I see two kinds of competition: one for attention, which seems negative, and one for quality, which is positive. I see barrier to entry much the same way. It’s as easy as it’s ever been for indie developers to create quality games, and that’s awesome, but at the same time, it’s as easy as it’s ever been to publish shovelware.

        I suppose that’s technological progress for you. :)


          “Does competition for eyeballs result in better quality? If gamers never even see a game, how can it impact the quality of future games?”

          I am specifically speaking to market competition meaning more options, higher quality and lower prices.  When left alone this is an organic process that works well.

          The competition for attention has always been a market force and that’s simply just marketing and advertising and that’s been around since day 1.  Now we can say it is different with online platforms and I agree.  But then that is not an organic thing so much because every online platform curates things as they wish and prioritizes what they want.  That seems to be the the way things are in the online world.  Which I agree with you IS where that technology has lead us.

          But market competition helps a market.  Which is why indie is awesome and AAA is flat and unoriginal at this point.


          If a million games are released, who has time to evaluate them all, to find the gems? Most indie games I see could also be described as flat and unoriginal; they’re basically clones of popular gameplay.

          That said, I’d much rather have the indie games than not. :) My perspective is just more of someone who wants to find a niche with an indie game, and it looks really crowded. :)


            I agree totally it is crowded.  Part of that I think is due to the modern connected world.  Decades ago there were video games but they mostly just came from your own country or from companies operating in your country that had the resources to pull that off.  And distribution was physical.

            But now with platforms like steam anyone from anywhere can post things for sale for everyone in the entire world to see.  And this is about the same thing you see on Amazon if you want to buy almost anything and you have the separate the wheat from the chaff.

            So I agree with your assertion that it’s difficult to find the gems.  But your other option would be to have the situation with the AAA space where it is dominated by a few large companies who don’t have to try very hard and so they don’t.

            I guess the cool part with Steam though.  You can refund the sucky ones and Indie is generally cheap so it’s not like dropping $70 on an AAA game just to find out it blows.

            Someone should start a thread on Indie gems so we can all check them out  :)


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