The Transition from AAA to Indie Games

In the video game industry, there’s recently been a significant drop in the development and interest in triple-A games, with a lot more people taking interest in developing and playing indie games.

The are many different reasons that this could be due to, but in this post I will be outlining my personal opinion as to why this could be happening.



Triple-A (AAA) games have the highest budgets for development and promotion. Games that fall into this category are often expected to be the “best” games, of the highest quality and popularity.

On the other hand, we have indie games. These are games most commonly created by independent or small groups of game developers, usually with a small budget and little to no support from any video game publishers or outside sources. More often than not, indie games rely on digital distribution and word-of-mouth to make sales.


Changes in Game Development

As years have went on, we have seen a significant rise in the workload that goes into a singular game. This means that the teams that develop the games that we all love have had to grow bigger as graphics became more detailed, in-game worlds expanded, and the overall content of games grew.

If you think about every individual aspect of a game and the time that it takes in today’s industry to make a game, the majority of teams that are bringing out triple-A titles in today’s industry must be huge, with every individual working on making one aspect of the game (such as graphics, voice acting, physics simulations, character creation, etc.) as detailed as possible.

A lot of game developers are put off by this new approach. This could be down to the fact that when developers started in the industry ten or twenty years ago, every game developed was down to a much smaller team of individuals that were very close to each other and helped out in the majority of aspects in the development of games, similarly to how full-stack software developers do things today.


Why the Increase in Indie Game Development?

This is relatively self explanatory, due to the previous points made.

Game developers that like the idea of working in smaller teams have begun to move over to the indie development side of things, as this gives them the rein to work on multiple different aspects of a game, and get a better say in the development and final product that is produced as a result of their hard work.

At the same time, triple-A games are only getting more expensive for consumers due to the costs associated with paying so many people to work on the game. This also leaves a gap in the market for exciting indie games to swoop in, attracting people that want a good and fun game without paying ~£40 for it, following release.

A lot of developers, including myself, enjoy doing everything for a project, from the voice acting for games down to the finishing touches on character modelling. To me, this makes the real indie game development experience all the worthwhile, and I am sure that many people feel the same way.

If you are interested in basic game development yourself but have never really gotten into it, the best thing that you could do would be to take some time out of your busy schedule to visit a local game jam. Game jams are effectively hackathons, just for developing games within a small group of people in a very short period of time, usually across the space of a weekend. Locally to me, the Glasgow University Game Development Society (GUDEV) are hosting a game jam very soon, and you can get information following this link. Please note: the game jam is being rescheduled due to the adverse weather, and an updated location and date will be provided as soon as possible.

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