When I think of how video games have come along, it reminds me of the movie industry only at an accelerated pace. When movies first released it took awhile for the technology to advance and special effects to evolve. With video games, technology seems to be evolving at speeds that no media has seen before. Super Mario Bros. was released not even 25 years ago, and look how far we’ve come in just under a quarter of a century.
Unfortunately, advancements don’t necessarily mean “greater gaming”. The biggest problems is the general public’s personal finances catching up with the new expensive technologies. Just take a look at the Blu-Ray powered PS3. It’s the most technologically advanced of the current gen systems, yet it’s in last place in sales behind XBOX 360 and the Nintendo Wii. So if it’s the more technological advanced why hasn’t that equated to sales. The most obvious and biggest factor is ‘price’. The PS3 has ranged anywhere from $399.99 – $599.99 depending on which model you purchased, and when you picked up your system. The 360 is next in line for price, ranging from $279.99 – $449.99. The Wii is the cheapest of the current gen systems, coming in at $249.99.
Ok, now that we’ve figured out the prices of each systems, let’s look at how their sales numbers stack up.
Nintendo Wii: 21,683,808 sold
XBOX 360: 18,789,569 sold
PS3: 9,801,469 sold
Anyone notice the trend here? The cheapest of the systems is selling the most, while the 360 is second, and PS3 is in third. While there are other determining factors in play, I believe it’s obvious that cost is the main one. While people love technology and its’ advancements; affordability will trump the need for technology any day.
So, how do independent and larger developers/publishers fit into the video game world? For the most part, all current game developers or publishers started as fledgling start-ups way back when. Can anyone tell me what game Electronic Art’s first published game was in the early 80’s? … Pinball Construction Set was the name, and it was released on a various number of computers. Fast forward to just 25 years later, and EA is now the largest video game publisher in the business. What a lot of average consumers may not know, is how independent game developers have been making a big push in the past couple of years. Most of these indie games, you won’t find on your local retail shelf.
Independent Game Development is a term that you didn’t hear much of during the early years of gaming. Mainly because it was so up-and-coming that everyone was an Indie developer. In today’s market, most titles you’ll come across are packaged with ‘EA, Take Two, Ubisoft etc…’ on the cover. So where do you find the original titles, and games that aren’t being sold by the larger companies?
A good place to start is a site called, Experimental Gameplay.com. This is a place where developers can go and post ideas for all kinds of different independently released games.
Here is the mantra of the website – “The Experimental Gameplay Project is about discovering new forms of gameplay. Each game must be made in less than 7 days by 1 person, and show off something we’ve never seen before.”
From sites such as Experimental Gameplay Project, numerous Indie Gaming Conferences have been popping up the past couple of years. Toronto Independent Game Development Jam is one of the big conferences, alongside the Independent Games Festival.
World Of Goo is a title being highly looked at in the gaming community. A look at a trailer here, and you’ll see that the game isn’t powered by some behemoth 3D engine. Yet, people are getting excited about it due to it’s original and ‘fun’ looking style.
Independent titles aren’t going to catch up anytime soon with some of the big releases like Madden 08, or GTA. But eventually I believe people will start to catch on, and notice what some of these games have to offer, especially if the price is right. If the figures of the hardware sales prove anything, it’s that ‘cost’ trumps technology any day.