The term “indie“, an abbreviation for independent, had its roots in the music and film industry, and was commonly used to describe creators working outside of commercial and mainstream channels. In the field of video games, this term has varied considerably.
Originally, an indie development was one that had been worked on by one person or a very small group of developers with their own budget, and which presented a creative and unrestricted idea, providing a different gaming experience compared to conventional titles.
Indie term today
However, nowadays we can see titles being called indie; even when they are supported by big companies. This has given rise to a debate about whether resources and budget should be determining factors when classifying a game under this term. In our opinion, these cases suggest a deformation of the term that may have consequences beyond mere semantics.
Softening the term could affect gamers’ expectations of indie games. In the past, gamers looked for innovation and originality, no matter if they didn’t have a big budget, what mattered was the story, unusual art design and gameplay experiences that were not available in big studio productions.
But the influence of large corporations can lead to confusion and even disappointment among gamers, as games promoted as indie can end up offering a mainstream-influenced experience. In the long run, this can erode players’ trust in this label and consequently overshadow the visibility and impact of true indie games.
This does not mean that the deformation of the term is entirely negative. For it is precisely this deformation that has allowed many indie studios to have more resources at their disposal, resulting in original stories of higher quality and diversity. However, by having “indie” games that can offer gaming experiences equivalent to AA titles or even successor games or IPs to AAA titles, we feel it is necessary to have a new classification for them.
Perhaps: A or triple I games, whose development studios have a staff of more than 10 people, and which have raised substantial funding, or are simply distributed and published by industry-recognised companies. This way, gamers would know what to expect in each case.
In conclusion, while the intrusion of large corporations into the world of indie games may seem promising in terms of diversity and quality, it is important that these corporations remain mindful and respectful of the core values that define indie games, in order to preserve their integrity and meaning in the minds of gamers. Ultimately, the term “indie” is not simply a marketing term, it is a manifesto for those who value creativity over commercialisation.
Thanks for reading, see you next time!