Friday, September 17th, 2021

Soapbox: The term “independence” is losing its meaning, but maybe this is a positive sign


Back to the Internet/download store era before the host “Bit”Wars, the way we buy and enjoy games is very different. Video games are expensive items purchased in stores, and you often rely on renting games that you cannot afford or cannot “promise” to buy. There are no downloads, no discounts, and the market means that relatively few companies hold all the cards.

For example, releasing a game that was eager to sell in the 90s is a logistical challenge that only large publishers can deal with. Manufacturing, distribution, retail, all steps in the entire process require employees, contacts, and a lot of money. Like everything else in the entertainment industry at the time, if you don’t have the weight and resources of the company, there will be multiple gatekeepers and locked doors. Nintendo is undoubtedly one of the gatekeepers. When the PlayStation was launched in the mid-1990s, its strict licensing arrangements eventually drove several companies to cooperate with Sony.

Nowadays, a game can be made by a few people, released and sold hundreds of thousands or even millions of copies with little help. From a broader perspective, this is also a development in the last ten years. Back in 2012′Indie games: movies‘Attracted people’s attention because it showed some early pioneers and their shocking success behind the scenes, namely Team Meat and Super Meat Boy, Number None and Braid, and Polytron and Fez. Of course, there are other early successes, but these examples specifically show that a wide audience of games — and a growing community of small developers — all of this is possible.

Free economic zone
Image: Polytron

The word “independence” made sense at that time-after all, it was an abbreviation for “independence”. These are indeed individuals and small teams acting alone, and then sought after by platform holders such as Xbox, Nintendo, and Sony, because it is clear that relatively new download stores need interesting games to attract players. In addition, these independent developers are making games that many people have never seen before: small, smart, sometimes emotional, and most importantly, influential. Not having a large budget does not mean that the actual gaming experience cannot be fascinating. It seems obvious now, but going back more than ten years, it feels like a revelation.

Not having a large budget does not mean that the actual gaming experience cannot be fascinating.

In fact, for a scene that has always existed in the game but has little chance to shine, this is a development to the mainstream. The “bedroom encoder” indeed spawned this industry on the pre-NES game system, and the PC/early Internet scene was the birthplace of this type of game. What is changing is that the most powerful gatekeepers, the host platform holders, are now interested in these small independent teams and their interesting games.

Now, we still have some Indians like this today; small teams make great games that become popular, and they do it themselves.That group of talents went real Being alone is still there, which is remarkable.

However, in the past decade, we have also seen the rise of independent publishers. Although many download-only or smaller games still have not been favored and supported by big players in the traditional retail sector, these download-only game publishers have brought a new side to the business, and of course the physical version is released in limited quantities.

The scale and resources of these publishers are naturally very different; in some cases, they will invest a lot of money to help the development of small games and reach a higher level. In other cases, they only focus on all the problems that developers cannot or don’t want to solve-marketing, public relations, quality assessment, and the details of submitting and publishing games on platforms like eShop. The idea is similar to the all-round publishers of the 90s, but usually the amount is lower, and for most smaller games, it is primarily a digital business. Smaller and more flexible, this is the natural evolution of the Internet age.

GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is produced by the smaller independent studio GuruGuru in collaboration with Konami
GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is produced by the smaller independent studio GuruGuru in collaboration with Konami (Photo: Konami)

However, now, the popular use of “independence” as a term has developed to the point where it does not really mean “independence” by any reasonable measure.Nintendo’s Independent World Radio is an example-some of the publishers involved include Thunderful, Devolver Digital, Team17 and even Konami. Frankly speaking, this is not a criticism, but the problem is that it makes no sense to apply “independence” to such companies. Considering the scale of their business, what are they “independent”?

Taking Thunderful, Team17 and Devolver Digital as examples, it is important to say that they have achieved great success as publishers and developers through smart business, investment, and more importantly, great games. Thunderful comes from the triumphant story of Image & Form and achieved initial success in the SteamWorld series. Devolver has become synonymous with quirky, bold, and imaginative “boutique” games, and the company has an extraordinary vision for top-notch games and impressive viral marketing techniques. Team17 has established itself as a game champion for small developers, while modernizing its own iconic brands such as Worms. Yet they are all, as entities, it is good Go beyond “independence” in the original sense; they are powerful forces in themselves, with different departments to adapt to the situation of a larger enterprise, a large number of employees, and a large amount of influence.

In the pre-Internet era, developers needed the support of Capcom, Electronic Arts, etc., but now there are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of publishers providing access New independence Scenes.

In a previous job, I participated in a number of gaming industry events as a business, which will bring you into a different area from the main show. There are many meeting areas and even some suits can be found. Devolver Digital often has meeting spaces similar to those of companies such as Nintendo and Microsoft—an impressive scale of operations. There were reports this year that the company may be listed on stocks that could reach 1 billion pounds.

However, the point is that I am not saying this is negative, but as a sign of the continued development of the gaming industry. Companies like this are not really independent games in the exact sense, but they usually help raise small team games to mainstream attention. Just like the social media platforms that were once about to launch, over time, the “independent” scene has evolved and monetized through a more traditional model.In the pre-Internet era, developers needed the support of Capcom, Electronic Arts, etc., but now there are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of publishers providing access New independence In the scenario, influence and influence will not get shelf space in the store, but will get the main billing in the display of the media and platform holders.

When you combine the influence of these wealthy publishers with a small development team that is still making innovative and engaging games, you will usher in an exciting era for fans in the download/non-3A space.Technology and tools also give independent The means for developers to make games that are not only influential but also beautiful, and some carefully budgeted and properly connected projects can achieve the kind of production value that could not be dreamed of outside of large enterprises ten years ago. -Budget title.

If there is currently a negative impact, it is that “independence” can be hijacked as a certain degree of “cool.” Konami is obviously eligible to participate in independent world broadcasts, which seems very special, and there are relatively large, resource-rich development studios that form and advertise themselves as “independent”. We recently received a press release promoting a new independent studio with many well-known industry veterans. Finally, we thank their partners: Google, Tencent and 505 Games.

Developed and self-published by Innersloth among us, it has been incredibly successful in 2020 and this year
Developed and self-published by Innersloth among us, it has been incredibly successful in 2020 and this year (Photo: Innersloth)

The problem with this, and the problem with applying independent labels to the large publishers mentioned above, is that it creates new gatekeepers, which may make those Actually Stick to an independent route.It’s not impossible, because games like the ones among us and Wallheim It has been shown, but we should not treat a relatively small number of breakthrough successes as a sign that the problem does not exist. If Devolver, Team17, Annapurna Interactive and other companies are the gatekeepers of the new generation, it is important that the growth of their wealth and influence over time has not eliminated the spirit of independence. Now, we are at a wonderful sweet spot, where we found a small team and got huge support and finally achieved success, but we also saw developers falling out with publishing partners. It will keep balance.

Unfortunately, we have seen in the “3A” industry how profits and huge sums of money can erode ethics, workers’ rights, and the actual quality of the gaming experience.Hope that with this era Super india Continue to unfold, these traps are avoidable, and the various games and experiences we have enjoyed in the past ten years will only get better because “India” becomes bigger.