Friday, 27 January 2012

Defining 'Indie'

This topic arose due to this article about Notch and his thoughts about if Mojang are indie any more due to their increase in popularity and size. I was sat reading through the comments, a lot of them about what exactly is Indie. How is it defined? 

I have always thought of indie games to be developed by a person or group of people that are an independent company. A company that are in charge of the structure of their business and development of their own games. A company that doesn't rely on third party publishers such as EA, THQ and Activision. Others define indie developers as a company or group of individuals that make games purely due to a desire to make one over making money, not to say making your cost back isn't important, it just shouldn't be the primary goal, or that they have a low or none existent budget and are generally small in the amount of people working on a project.

While I agree with those points, the last one not so much. An indie developer usually do start off small. But this leads to the question, "When are an indie development team no longer classed as an indie developer?" This is why I believe indie is more about having control over your own company and product than the actual size and finances behind it. 

Take indie music for instance. At one point indie bands were the likes of garage bands and bands without labels going round getting themselves gigs and venues by them self rather than being signed and under a record company label of some sort, and of course there still are many bands like that, infact they are on the rise, just as indie games are. This is because publishers and third parties are needed less and less these days due to the amount of ways artists/developers etc can communicate with their audience. This is largely due to the openness of the internet these days. But getting back to my point there are many indie bands that have had major success over the years. They are still an indie band though the fact that they have become successful doesn't change that fact. The principle is the same no matter the medium. 

Is Mojang still an indie developer? Until they lose control of development of their games, budgets and deadlines by third party publishers I would say yes, they still are. Just because a development team is indie doesn't limit them to the likes of casual games such as Super Meat Boy, Limbo and Bastion. Most of them choose to go down the more casual game type due to smaller budgets. If they have the time and dedication, I see no reason we can't see much bigger Indie titles in the future. It will just take them longer get it finished and out to the public than you big name developers.