When a top gaming artist quits their job at a big-budgetstudio to start work as an independent developer, most people might think they’ve had a breakdown. In January 2022, Bloomberg reported one such story: developer Nate Purkeypile had done precisely that, walking away from his financially secure 15-year stint at Bethesda Game Studios to ‘fly solo.’
So, was he nuts? It turns out that Purkeypile is not alone. Many big studio veterans have been doing the same recently. It seems that the fallout from mergers and acquisitions has a lot to do with it. Microsoft acquired Bethesdain 2020, and Purkeypile felt the impact shortly after, with new (and often political) corporate management strictures rigidlyrestraining the once-extant policy of giving creators loose guidelines for their abundant imaginations to work freely on.
Not only that, but affordable new technology(like advanced game creation tool Unreal Edge) has opened big new doors for independents.
Other emergingtechnologies like blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the cryptocurrency space are undoubtedly also having a significant impact on the gaming industry, not least by enabling ordinary folk to make a little money (OK, sometimes a lot) through gaming.
As the most advanced online casinos have discovered, it’s now possible to gamble with crypto: operators like VIPCoin Casino can grant their fast-growing customer pool top-tier privacyby offering cryptocurrencies for transactions and payouts. That means customers are not required to disclose sensitive personal information like bank account details when they take a seat at the virtual poker table.
To return to the rise of the indie/niche gaming sector,as Nate Purkeypile discovered, it seems that bigness has its drawbacks, while indie developerscan retain their creative aptitudes in full.
And it shows in the fruits of their labor. Frankly, today’sbig AAA titles aren’t the be-all and end-all they once were. The free-flowing creativity going into indie game development means that the more niche titles often come packed with the most fun.
The big studios have considerable pressures to contend with in a brutally competitive market, not the least of which is the rush to get titles released (and start making money) as quickly as possible. The downside is that games often hit the market laden with bugs and glitches, even though the hyperrealistic graphics and art design are often spellbinding.
But indie developers manage to create visually enchanting worlds, too – through a labor of love. They make up for their smaller resources with painstaking time spent and the creative ingenuity they pour into the art. Technology allows them to vamp up the pixelart style of old classics like Super Mario Bros or Sonic the Hedgehogto produce qualitythat often looks like their AAA competitors’ titles.
Niche titles benefit in other ways: the developers will often imbue their titles with much more profound and more extensive stories than their AAA counterparts do these days.
And then there’s price: buy an AAA title, and you’ll often end up with great graphics but a buggy game that also requires you to spend more on additional booster packs. The niche titles produced by independents will cost a fraction of an AAA equivalent, and they’ll often offer free updates to boot!
Moral of the story? Don’t underestimate the dynamism of niche titles.