“It’s an indie game… Burn it!”

Without us noticing, there are only a few weeks left until 2016 (or, “We don’t talk about this year”) is over, with Sony and Microsoft having announced their free game offers for the month of December. As usual, dirty console peasants stand up from their illusion of scaled graphics and locked 30fps to object because PS Plus gave them indie games, considering that as a bad deal.

I would like to add a disclaimer here. I don’t want to support one or the other console giants since I believe this is the most fake generation ever. If you want to object to my beliefs, then I will have to remind you that your beloved company, that you chose because it was the developer of your first and favorite childhood console, just released a remastered version of this generation’s console and will continue to do in the next years.

To be honest, I want to support indie games, not because I write in an indie reviewing website and I get them for free, but because the more I play with these games, the more they offer me fun and beautiful experiences, something that in this day and age has become recycled or lacking in AAA titles. But let’s begin from the actual beginnings. Ps Plus for the month of December decided to offer to its subscribers Stories: The Path of Destinies, Invisible, Inc., Hyper Void, Tiny Troopers Join Ops, Color Guardians and VVVVVV. That didn’t sit well with the subscribers believing that these “free” games are bad and don’t worth it just because they are indie games, thinking that without even playing them.

In the other side, Xbox Live offers a remaster – Sleeping Dogs : Definitive Edition, Outlast, Outland and Burnout Paradise. 2 indie games and 2 AAA titles. I don’t want to persuade people that indie games are better just because I like them, but people should understand that the offers are not being decided by developers or publishers. The developer decides if they want to give their game for free and not the console creator. Besides the free or not part (I personally believe that no subscription title is for free, since you need to pay first for the subscription), gamers should stop believing that every developer should give their game for free, and that game sould only be an AAA title. I also wouldn’t mind getting a Battlefield 1 or a Mafia III for free, but no matter how good or bad a game is, the sales help in keeping the studio afloat.

If anyone thinks that a company should give an old title and not necessarily new, then I need to inform you that sales happen even in old titles, and when the sales are steady, the developer will look after its earnings and not to offer the title for free. There are exceptions where indie titles were given for free from their first day of release, like Rocket League on PS Plus, and it became a beloved game because of its competitive style and when the word of how good of a game it is got out, it also brought great sales in all available formats.

I’ll leave the “who choses what to give to whom” part aside and let me focus on the “they get tainted just because they are indie games”. I offered my thoughts on a recent feature of mine about the price of an indie game, and a reading can give you an example of what people think about indies. Searching on Social Media, I saw people judging these games saying “they are just indies”, without giving an actual oppinion why they don’t like them. This is an endless loop in which an indie that is priced above 15€ should be condemned and if it is offered for free then it’s bad because it’s an indie. I am bothered by this situation because I personally want to judge things by their essence and not by how they look on the outside, and most of the people out there are not willing to even give a reason about why they don’t like something. At the same time and to give just an example, they forget that a big company was responsible for the hype behind an indie title like No Man’s Sky.

It’s true that not all indies are good (Mo Man’s Sky, Mighty No. 9) and there have been Kickstarter campaigns that ended in a complete mess, but the majority of the indie developers want to create something beautiful and go above and beyond to offer it to gamers. The real magic behind indie development is that anyone can create their own work of art without begging a big company to support them. They only need inspiration, like the creator of Hyper Light Drifter, who made this game to share his health problems with the gamers. People like Thomas Happ, Isaac Nichols, Scott Cawthon, Sam Barlow and many more proved that they can offer something amazing without depending on uber graphics and perferct performance. They offered something different that gamers didn’t know they wanted but they loved it.

There are definitely negatives in indie titles, but playing with these titles gamers will form their preferences in gaming in general and not discard everything because of the category the game belongs to. I also have a list of indie titles that I don’t like, not because they had problems, but because they are not my kind of games. It is better to take a chance and try them,you might find something you did not expect. So, what will you do? Look from afar or dance with them?

I would like to end this feature with the touching speech by Ryan Green, the creator of That Dragon, Cancer, from the Game Awards 2016.

-Vasilis “Eniantas” Kamakaris

(Translated in English by Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas)