Indie vs. Triple-A: The Industry’s Great Divide

indie-vs-triple-a-banner

Before I began writing for PS Nation, I refused to go anywhere near a “downloadable” title. If a game wasn’t $59.99 and on a disc with its marketing plastered all over the windows of my favorite retailers I would write it off as inferior. The Indie scene began blowing up shortly thereafter and my favorite games writers, podcasters, and industry professionals were spending more time focusing on these smaller experiences that took chances the conglomerate publishers simply would not. I reluctantly bought, downloaded, and played a few to moderate satisfaction… then I tried Limbo.

Limbo

Suddenly, it all made sense. The best video games had always been touted as wonderful “experiences” and that’s exactly what these Indie titles were offering. The annualized mega-franchises couldn’t give me two hours of pure bliss for $9.99, understandably unable to bet their huge budgets on something that could crash and burn. I began to feel like the Indies were breaking off into their own genre or category rather than trying to compete. I quit the closed-mindedness and I’ve been able to enjoy games that I otherwise would have never touched. To this day, I’m glad to have opened and elevated my tastes thanks to my newfound proximity to the industry.

… The passion possessed by these tiny studios is undeniable …

I realize that there are some gamers who are deflated, discouraged, and discontented with the Indie movement. This editorial is not intended to bash those ideals or discredit the validity of these concerns as I hold many of the same opinions. While researching some popular gripes in preparation for this piece, I came across a slew of complaints ranging from news feeds saturated with Indie coverage to the fear of top franchises disappearing as gaming shifts to a digital-only, smaller scoped future.

To those among us who are proponents of the Indie movement, if the aim is to abolish the stigma of this classification, let’s stop focusing our discussions around the size of the teams that develop these games. The passion possessed by these tiny studios is undeniable as many Indie success stories have begun with the studio’s founder risking the well-being of themselves and their family. This feat is to be rewarded by inclusion rather than separation.

GTA5

To those of us who blindly advocate the quality of these games, let’s be hesitant with our praise and suggestive power. I’ve run into a few Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and Grand Theft Auto fans who felt burned out of $15 following the internet’s overwhelming praise of something like Journey. I wouldn’t necessarily call these people “casual gamers” but they prefer pumping a hundred hours into few titles a year rather than consistently playing something new every week and their gaming tastes are not as abstract. After listening to my first episode of the PS Nation Podcast, I was baffled that there were people out there who had the means to consume enough content that they could record a four hour conversation about it each week (thanks Glenn and Josh).

… Both approaches are necessary for the evolution of the medium …

To those among us that hate and troll the Indie scene just because of that label, try a few of them out. I can almost guarantee that you’ll find something you’re into. Guacamelee is as good or better than any triple-A platformer you’ve ever played. Being able to appreciate a game like The Unfinished Swan was an accomplishment in my gaming life and I’m proud to participate in discussions involving games that avoid the mainstream. Your huge favorites are safe as long as they’re still bringing in the revenue and that stream hasn’t shown any signs of drying up.

Guacamelee

All of us love games. Many of us are early adopters that the crave the newest, biggest, most technically advanced projects, and others seek the connection made possible by Indie visionaries, while a lot of us want both. The ideological miscommunication comes with the belief that all of this cannot be possible at the same time and neither side of the argument can find value in the preference of the other. My story is proof of this untruth.

… The number of people that participated in a project … need not be taken into consideration …

In defense of the triple-A gamer, I cannot disagree with the frustration caused by Assassin’s Creed Unity being paraded as a broken mess because of a few glitches while Telltale’s The Walking Dead receives accolades for game of the year with an inconsistent engine. I appreciate ACU’s attempt to technically advance gaming with its living, breathing, open world, scope, ambition, and seemingly unlimited content. If that advancement comes at the cost of a few crashes and restarts, so be it. I equally appreciate Telltale’s advancement of character development, storytelling, and choice systems. Both approaches are necessary for the evolution of the medium, creating more of a frequency in the incredible games that can give us all the necessary elements.

ACU

There is a great divide in console gaming that need not exist. Both Indies and triple-A releases have seen their fair share of terrible, good, great, and classic games. The number of people that participated in a project’s creation, how many millions of dollars were pumped into its development, and the profitability of the company behind the game need not be taken into consideration when deciding to make the purchase. Games are games and there are more than enough ways to research a title before you commit. So whichever side of the argument you fall on, even if you decide not to pay the issue any attention, know that more releases can only fuel great development. Devs are gamers too and it is entirely possible that the title you hate could influence a mechanic, story arc, or visual style in the next game that you love.

Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
– Video games
– Rap music
It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook