Why Are Indie Games So Popular?


Indie games refer to video games that are produced by small teams of developers, usually without the backing of a major game publisher. As of 2022, the whole video gaming industry is worth an estimated $196.92 Billion. And since 2021, Indie games have gone from making up 13% of the market to 17% in 2022. The question is, why are indie games so popular?

So, without further ado, here are 13 reasons we believe indie games are so popular.

Indie Games Are Fun!

The indie spirit is one of exploration. Indie games are all about finding a new idea, trying something that’s never been done before, and creating entertainment out of it. A lot of indie games offer unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. Indie game developers create to make a game they want to play themselves, with the only goal being to have fun creating it.

Indie Games Are Accessible

Most people can relate to indie games. There’s something in their colourful and alienating nature that appeals to gamers who like to play at the edge of what is accepted as “normal.” Being indie means you don’t have to conform to a set of conventions, and not having a publisher behind you gives developers, who often have little or no budget time on their hands, free rein over the ideas they have in mind.

They’re Diverse

The spectrum of indie games is wide. As with all forms of art, the range of artistic expression across the board is immense and will appeal to gamers who like different types of games or are just looking for the next game to play. The best part about indie games is there’s no limit to what can be made, even in the most restricted financial environment. No publisher is telling you “you can’t do…” because there’s no one telling you what you can’t make.

Indie Games Are Affordable

As a result of that lack of financial support from publishers, indie games are also relatively cheap, and many are priced below $10. This makes them a cost-effective option for players on a budget since they can afford to play more indie titles than mainstream titles. The typical cost of an indie title is in the $10 range, but there’s no limit to what developers can make, so expect to see hundreds or even thousands of games for sale inexpensively.

They’re Different

What indie games lack in technical prowess, they make up for in originality. There’s no one telling developers what to do, so you’re bound to see an unpredictable mix of genres coming out of the indie gaming scene. It’s not unusual for indie developers to create an entire video game by themselves (it is, however, rare for that developer to have any experience).

They Are Innovative

Because developers don’t have to worry about having to please the publisher with a product that will sell well, they can spend more time making their game unique than creating what’s being mass-produced. For example, Ludum Dare is an event for independent game developers held bi-annually in which indie game devs work together with others to create a game in only 48 hours. The event challenges developers to make something using only a programming language of their choice, with the only goal of creating a game that is enjoyable and innovative.

Indie Games Are Experimental

Independent game developers are free to experiment with new ideas in different game genres. No big publisher is telling them what they can or can’t make, and the result is a lot more games with different approaches to games than the average mainstream title that’s received extensive testing before being released. In many cases, indie games aren’t even games at all; they’re experiments that may turn the gaming world upside down.

Indie Games Are Open-ended (Sometimes)

Most mainstream video games have a clear goal or storyline that guides players throughout the game. Indie games, on the other hand, are often more open-ended and give gamers a lot more freedom with what they can do, just like in real life. Their open-ended nature gives these indie games the benefit of being replayable – making them more desirable than linear stories.

They Can Be Autobiographical

The indie movement is one of self-expression. As indie game developers have control over what they can and can’t make, creative expression runs rampant and gives players the freedom to explore their unique ideas. Although you won’t see a lot of autobiographic content in mainstream games because most are heavily tested before release, indie game developers make games that reflect their own lives and experiences.

Indie Games Are Inclusive

The indie gaming movement is embracing diversity and inclusivity. While the fields of gaming and software development have been traditionally male-dominated, more and more women are choosing to become indie game developers. Truly, the indie gaming scene is a lot more diverse than mainstream gaming. A lot of game developers have taken advantage of the opportunity to make their games and have succeeded, making them a shining example for others who want to get started.

They’re not limited

Many mainstream games are restricted in the ways they can be played. For example, many find it difficult to get away with playing video games on public transportation because of concerns over the content being too violent and inappropriate. Other mainstream games limit their players in other ways, like only letting them enjoy the game if they have a dedicated gaming console or if they buy a specific peripheral. Indie game developers, however, can make their own rules and often are more creative with what they’re willing to let people do within the game environment.

They’re Often Immersive

A lot of indie games are relatively realistic and allow you to experience that world just as the character does. This immersive quality is a big part of the indie movement because it allows gamers to explore their own lives while playing a game that reflects their feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

Indie Games Are Thoughtful

Indie games often deal with social issues and harsh realities that mainstream titles don’t want to address. It’s not unusual to see a distributed game theme in an independent title, especially if the developer is making something that reflects their own experiences or feelings. It’s not surprising to see many indie games using themes of racism, sexism, and more in their storylines as a way to make gamers think about the world around them.

Final Thoughts

So, why are indie games so popular? Well, for Developers, Indie games represent freedom of creativity in an interactive art form. For consumers, Indie Games offer fun, innovative and diverse experiences in an affordable package. And, while Indie games aren’t given as much attention as mainstream titles, there’s a lot more to indie titles than meets the eye.

Aron Marriott-Smith

Aron is a hobbyist indie game developer. Before building this website, Aron spent many years helping businesses market their products and services.

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