Creativity: Big Companies, Indie Games, and The Great Divide


By Rockman


What is the real difference between indie games and big title games? Why isn’t a video game just a video game anymore? Why can’t we hold both Journey and Ico to the same standards? These complex questions and more continue to plague us and the industry as we continue to evolve into a more industrious and monstrous market. With the video game industry already exceeding the billion dollar mark, why is there still a great divide between the two types of games?

Let’s start with the misconception; most people believe that “big title games” are made with no love by a big corporate company with plans to make millions of dollars, while indie games are made with love and are simply there to express creativity and art. This is not the case as it is not always that black and white. It is true that some franchises like Call of Duty, plan to come out every year to grab the money of their fans. It is true that games like Journey were meant to inspire awe and creativity more so than the accumulation of money. What we don’t understand as gamers is that everyone starts off with a vision for something greater and awe inspiring, hoping to spark imagination with their creation, but how the two types get there are totally different because of what goes on behind the scenes. Companies like EA and Capcom start off with great ideas, however due to budgets and scheduling releases as well as the appeasement of share holders, it can really hit the rails hard not looking back at the original idea that they started with, but they have more resources. On the other hand, small indie groups do not have to answer to anyone but themselves and can take as much time as needed to complete a project which allows for more creativity, but the trade off is very little funds and resources.

When you talk about the two types, there are not really much different from each other, it is just a few variances that keep them from being considered in the same category. Thanks to Steam however, we are quickly starting to see that gap close. We as gamers should stop separating the two and just accept the project for what it is; a good game or a bad game. Remember that all artists want to get paid for their work no matter how artsy they are or think they are and that video games are meant to be a fun game first and everything else second. Angry Birds was a free independent Flash game and when the creators saw that they could capitalize upon its success, they created actual console games, toys, T-shirts, and many other accessories. Mass Effect started from humble beginnings and went on to be a huge title however, the storyline still made you care for the characters, no matter what ending you got, the player still shared a bond with your personalized Shepard. Regardless of what type it falls under, the experience is what truly matters in a video game and everything else is just a byproduct or an illusion.

I think we as gamers are never really frustrated with the “Divide” between two but rather the saturation of any good series. Everyone has that one series that you might love, but feel it is time to end it in some small way, even myself. There is nothing wrong with expanding a successful title, but I believe you should do it within reason. I understand that appealing to the gamers’ market can sometimes be confusing, tough, and just plain hell and I know we can be picky, but I do believe we deserve some type of appreciation when it comes to continuing a series. This is what most big companies are revered and hated for; the continuation of a product the fans no longer want. Again I know this feeling personally because I went through this with the Final Fantasy Series (13 series is garbage!!!). And then we are also frustrated by corporate decisions to do certain things like localize one game over the other (RIP Cowboy Bebop PS2 title), patch certain areas or things in the game to make it better or worse (too many to name), or simply cancel a series because of stock decisions. But on the other side, the video game industry whether we like it or not, is a business and sometimes the business side is rough and unforgiving.

So what can we do to make our voices heard? The quickest way is to vote with your dollars; if you do not like the game series anymore, stop supporting it. Try to do as much research as you can on both indie games and big title games before purchasing them and then if you buy it and still don’t like it, resale it or trade it and learn from your mistake. They are only making decisions by numbers because that is the easiest and fastest way to determine whether something is working or not; majority always rules because companies don’t take the time to get to know you personally and they don’t have that kind of time, no one does. But when you make it known through the numbers game (money) and forums, they learn quickly when something is not working.

Indie games are self-explanatory and on the rise, but keep in mind, they are also pursuing money as well because they want to keep producing games just like the big companies and while they may not want to be a global conglomerate like EA, they still want to have their games known around the world just like they were a conglomerate. Honestly, it does not matter whether the game is indie or big company, just as long you enjoy the game experience, continue to support them. My dream is that one day it will truly never be a difference, only an experience. Everybody deserves to be successful and everyone deserves to follow their dreams.