There often seems to be a distinct divide between the so-called corporate games released by major distribution companies and the smaller, homegrown games that are developed by independent creators. Further examination, however, reveals that these two categories are not as divided as you might imagine, and there is a mutual flow of influence between both. With that said, there has been a recent influx of innovation among indie gamer designers, and the emergent trends have established their place in indie gaming and mainstream releases.
If this trend continues—and everything indicates it will—these six trends will take off, too. Gamers should be on the lookout for these trends in the newest releases. If you want to see more indie gaming being boosted by the mainstream, identifying the relevant trends and encouraging them can make a big difference. In the meantime, enjoy your video games, and enjoy seeing these trends when they arrive, too.
Top Indie Gaming Trends
1. The Player is the Creator
Indie games have long empowered their players to develop, design, and create in the context of the game. This can be seen in games such as Minecraft and Super Mario Maker. These games drew on player dynamics that originated in indie games wherein players are empowered to build worlds and develop structures. This trend will likely continue to become popular, and it’s due in large part to the indie games that paved the way. The trope has already been predicted in a number of forthcoming games, and its popularity indicates that it won’t go anywhere anytime soon.
2. Involvement of Spectators
Content related to video games accounts for as much as 15 percent of all videos on YouTube. This means that countless videos—a non-interactive format—are devoted to gaming. Indie gamers picked up on the significance of spectatorship long ago and began gearing games toward players and viewers alike. This has caught on in mainstream gaming, too, with an emerging emphasis on single-player games that can be played together: one controller, but multiple players engaged. Studios such as Blizzard, headed by Bobby Kotick, have released titles with this theme and have upcoming games that are similar, too.
3. Accessible Design and Development
As studios continue striving to reach new gamers and better connect with existing gamers, there are many different elements that have been named as potential motivators. Transparency is one of them, and it has emerged as one of the favorite buzzwords driving the industry. It is a value that long differentiated indie and corporate gaming, but as mainstream studies catch on, too, it is an increasingly ubiquitous value. Bobby Kotick has pioneered a shift towards principles of transparency and accountability, for example, in many of the Blizzard Entertainment policies as well as the productions he has overseen and directed.
4. More Platform Improvisation
With more emphasis placed on game content and mechanics, there has recently been less emphasis on the platform on that a game is delivered. As a result, PC gaming has seen a comeback, and other retro platforms have become popular again, too. With less emphasis on the latest and greatest (and most expensive) system, games are free to explore the worlds they want on the hardware they prefer. Major developers have caught on and gotten in on limited edition releases, but it might just be a trend that becomes mainstream, too if gamers stay invested and interested.
5. Emphasis on Design
Any indie gaming fanatic will tell you that indie games are far superior to mainstream games in terms of design and aesthetic appeal. Though these metrics are obviously subjective, it may be true that independent developers are known for attention to detail and beautiful design. With general interest shifting towards visuals and away from gameplay, though, the gorgeous design has become a hallmark of major game releases, too. You can expect worlds that are just as detailed and uniquely designed in a major release as you might have found in an obscure independent release just a few years ago.
6. Greater Exploration of Plot
One of the most important influences indie gaming has had on its more corporate counterparts is the encouragement of games with a greater emphasis on plot. The days of titles focused exclusively on gameplay are gone. You can now expect as much investment to be made in the writing and story development as is made in the rest of the game experience. The result is a general improvement in the overall quality of games, with a complete experience and greater player investment. Not every player cares about the story, but it certainly elevates games to an involved narrative level. Indie games and mainstream games are certainly different, but they have more in common than might initially meet the eye. If you are a fan of gaming, you can look forward to seeing more of these trends on your screen as you play the games you love