Indie game

An independent video game (commonly referred to as an indie game) is a video game that is often created without the financial support of a publisher, although some games funded by a publisher are still considered "indie". Indie games often focus on innovation and rely on digital distribution. Indie gaming saw a rise in mainstream popularity in the latter half of the 2000s, primarily due to new online distribution methods and development tools.[1] Some indie games have been very successful financially, such as Undertale,[2] Braid,[3] World of Goo,[4] and Minecraft.[5]

Overview

There is no exact, widely accepted definition of what constitutes an "indie game",[6][7][8][9] however, indie games generally share certain characteristics. Indie games are developed by individuals, small teams, or small independent companies;[7][10][11] companies that are often specifically formed for the development of one specific game. Typically, indie games are smaller than mainstream titles.[11] Indie game developers are generally not financially backed by video game publishers (who are risk-averse and prefer big-budget games)[12] and usually have little to no budget available.[6][7][9][13][14] Being independent, indie developers do not have controlling interests[8] or creative limitations[7][15][9] and do not require publisher approval[6] as mainstream game developers usually do.[16] Design decisions are thus also not limited by the allocated budget.[15] Furthermore, smaller team sizes increase individual involvement.[17]

Small teams, scope, and no creative restrictions have made indie games known for innovation, creativity, and artistic experimentation.[6][11][17][18][19][20][21] Developers limited in ability to create graphics can rely on gameplay innovation.[1] Both classic game genres and new gameplay innovation have been seen.[19] However, being "indie" does not imply that the game focuses on innovation.[11][22] In fact, many games attributed the "indie" label can be of poor quality and may not be made for profit.[9]

Further, indie games do not need to be completely isolated from large publishers to be considered indie. For example, Bastion, developed by Supergiant Games, was published by Warner Bros. Interactive. Though Warner Bros. paid for the distribution and marketing of the title, Supergiant Games refused any funding for development costs, building the game on their own, and the resulting title is considered an indie game by the industry.[23]

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