News Article

Indie Developers Enjoy Great Success in 2008

Posted by Corbie Dillard

We've already seen some outstanding indie games for the WiiWare service, and with the prospect of the DSiWare service coming soon, there seems to be no end in sight for the new level of creativity we're seeing from these small game developers.

With far less overhead when compared to developing a retail release, we're seeing more developers take chances and try something new without being afraid of losing large sums of money if the games fail to live up to sales expectations.

Ron Carmel, co-creator of the hit WiiWare title World of Goo, recently addressed a group of indie developers at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, TX and he had some interesting things to say regarding the advantages the smaller indie developers have in common when it comes to creating new titles for the current crop of digital download services like Nintendo's WiiWare and DSiWare.

Small size is one factor, he says. "Another thing is an emphasis on design over finance." Larger companies have a top-down direction, looking at when a game needs to ship, and therefore what features to invest in. With an indie studio, says Carmel, there’s the need to create a good game, which results in the typically-indie question: "When’s the latest we can ship?"

He goes on to talk about how successful 2008 was for these small developers and also mentions the new trend of publishers themselves dipping their toes into the indie market by creating in-house indie development groups of their own.

With the current recession going on, it's likely for consumers to focus more of their attention and money on these downloadable titles due to their inexpensive price tag and wide availability.

It's often speculated that we're not too far away from having all of the games we play be available as digital downloads, which will greatly reduce production costs to not only the developers and publishers, but to consumers as well. We're all for that! :)

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User Comments (24)

KDR_11k

#1

KDR_11k said:

I like news like that because it seems that most big budget titles these days are boring brown-gray retreads of the same old designs.

Esposch

#2

Esposch said:

In my opinion DSiWare is destined to fail. In about a year or so, the DS2 will come out, and DSiWare generally has small apps (like minigame type things) rather than full-fledged indie masterpieces like Braid, which is coming to Steam on March 31st by the way!
Although hopefully DS2Ware will be better, or maybe even have retail releases on it. Ah, a man can dream.

Oh, and I predict that Sony won't make a new handheld, because of the epic failness of the PSP.

CorbsAdmin

#3

Corbs said:

The PSP has been a success for Sony when you compare it to any other handheld that's gone up against Nintendo's dominance of the portable market. I still much prefer the PSP to the DS. :)

Objection

#4

Objection said:

I like my physical media though. I like to be able to hold what I purchase, even if its just a disc. I'm glad to hear Braid is coming to Steam-I might get it.

Chunky_Droid

#5

Chunky_Droid said:

I'm not up for ALL of my games having to be downloaded, I only have a 10 gig limit until I slow down lol. And half my family who own a console wouldn't be able to get games as they don't have broadband connections. But I'm happy that the indie scene is seeing success!

I also like looking at my shelves at all my games :P

Bahamut_ZERO

#6

Bahamut_ZERO said:

@O_B: I wasnt a huge gameplay Braid fan. The whole puzzle thing didnt get me. However, the story is the best, deepest, and most thought inducing I've ever seen in a game.

Anyway, Indie devs rock. Some of the best games this gen come from them!

CorbsAdmin

#7

Corbs said:

I also like looking at my shelves at all my games

You and me both! :P

Kawaiipikachu

#8

Kawaiipikachu said:

@ Chunky Droid & Corbie i also like looking at the games on my shelving .
But still i can apperciat all the good coming from digital distribution .

Objection

#11

Objection said:

I need more shelves to hold all my games and DVDs. Since I have over 100 of each (probably 150 DVDs) my shelves are more than full unless I remove the rest of my books from my room. (Sad day.) Should I do it?

Rawk_Hawk

#13

Rawk_Hawk said:

@Anthonyb
No the Backloggery is a website that allows gamers to keep a list of their game collections. Its pretty cool check it out :) Alot of the users on this site are also backloggers such as myself :)

darkmagi_82

#14

darkmagi_82 said:

@Corbie

I'm totally with you on the PSP thing. I have a DS and a PSP, but I use my PSP waaaaaay more. Sony's handheld outmatches the DS in almost every way, but is very underrated unfortunately. Long live the PSP! :)

gig

#15

gig said:

Digital distribution is only as good as the games that get released that way, and it fair to say there is a fair bit of shovel ware on all download services, pretty much the same as retail. That doesn't mean you don't get the odd gem though and if developers are taking chances then you have the possibility of some great inventive games.

DSiware I'm sure will survive the transfer onto DS2 when/if it comes as I hope wiware will survive the transfer onto the next nintendo home console. I tend to replace my old consoles with the next gen when they get released so continued backward compatability is essential other wise I end up with too much plastic under the t.v.

calculon

#16

calculon said:

I've played both the PSP and DS and prefer the DS over the PSP any day.
The PSP is full of ports of old games and suffers from a really crap battery life. I also prefer the cartridge over mini-disc any day both in terms of load time and sturdiness.

In fact, apart from the over-rated graphics, the only real benefit the PSP has is larger storage - neither of which necessarily make a better game.

Bass_X0

#17

Bass_X0 said:

The PSP is full of ports of old games

All of my PSP games are ports of old games. Its why I bought it in the first place.

Adam

#18

Adam said:

I've at one point had both a DS and PSP. They both have a ton of good games. They're just too hard on the eyes, and I'd rather carry a book with me if I'm on the go than a game system. My gaming needs are met by my Wii and SNES. Long live home consoles! Death to portables! :D

gig

#19

gig said:

@ Adam

Yes mobile gaming does get in the way of book reading,
Bus to work = reading time, I long for a holiday to catch up on all the books I buy.

Adam

#20

Adam said:

My new year's resolution was to read all my unread books before buying more. Somehow, I nearly accomplished this, though a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble ruined it. :(
Still, I'm down to a stack of five books! It's a nice feeling not to have to walk over stacks of books to get in my room. (Exaggerating, of course. It's never gotten that bad. ;))

Esposch

#22

Esposch said:

@ Corbie #3
I was referring to the commercial failure of the PSP, helped by high development costs, losing the console battle, and "homebrew."

Although to develop a DS2 game it'll probably cost even more.
(And yes, I know the DS has R4, but it's not as common as CFW, the development costs are much lower and it's sold twice as many consoles)

Chunky_Droid

#23

Chunky_Droid said:

@Corbie, Shadx & Bass: I have 4 2 metre bookshelves full of games dating back to the NES era :)

I don't play many of them anymore though, as most of them I've actually downloaded (ironically) to my Wii so I can play them in HD.

Chunky_Droid

#24

Chunky_Droid said:

And as far as the PSP goes, my hands still get cramped trying to play anything on it. Which I can only put down to button placement as the GBA SP was perfectly fine for a 10 hour Pokemon session I had on it a few years back.

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