The gaming industry is in the process of evolution. The upcoming generation of home consoles is approaching quickly, and with that comes a more prevalent type of gaming – the indie game. Sony and Microsoft have shown both AAA titles as well as smaller titles for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. AAA titles seem to be the ones that have taken over gaming today, with only a small amount of indie titles taking the spotlight. Games like Grand Theft Auto V, The Last of Us, and BioShock Infinite make us look past the great indie titles like Gone Home and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.
The next generation, however, looks to change this. Along with the AAA titles already announced for both next-gen consoles, both companies – Sony and Microsoft – have embraced the fact that indie games are what will be the dominant genre in the next-gen.
The main reason indie games will be the prominent genre in the next generation is the ease of publishing for up-and-coming developers who want to get their games out on the market. Both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One (although announced after a policy switch from Microsoft) will come packing self-publishing capabilities. The smallest talented developers will be able to be put under the spotlight without having to find a publisher or having to find some way to get onto the online stores, which could allow more small developers to get bigger and eventually get noticed by publishers so they could eventually have more and better games.
The next reason indie games will dominate the next generation is how much focus the companies are giving the genre. Other than the self-publishing aspect of the two consoles, both companies are actively trying to find the next big indie game, whether it be from a developer with an already well-known name, like Dear Esther‘s thechineseroom with Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Mojang with Minecraft, or yet unknown names, like Ovosonico with Murasaki Baby.
Both companies, especially Sony, are also giving significant press conference time to games from indie developers. At Gamescom, Sony seemingly dedicated its whole conference to indies, announcing a staggering 15 titles, most of which were indies. At E3, Sony and Microsoft both showed off many indie games, including Sony’s showing of 8 indie titles coming to the PS4. Microsoft showed off two indies coming to the Xbox One – a Minecraft port, and Below, a new indie game from the creators of Super Time Force.
Sony has, however, taken the advantage when it comes to the indie game spectrum for next-gen. They announced the support of indie games very early and eventually caused Microsoft to change its policies. Sony also has another powerful weapon when it comes to indie games – the PlayStation Vita. The dedicated handheld makes gaming, especially indie gaming, easier on the go, which is where I personally love to play indie games. Microsoft does not have a dedicated handheld console, giving Sony the leg up here.
The Vita will work in tandem with the PlayStation 4 via Remote Play, so virtually any game on the PS4 will be playable on the Vita, and you can take that game you love playing at home on the road, which I think will increase demand for the Vita and increase the indie games sold for Vita.
Finally, I wanted to give my personal opinion on the indie genre and its inevitable dominance in the next console generation. I personally love to play indie games. Currently, they can be some of my favorite games to play. Games like Hotline Miami and Gone Home have been recent highly regarded indie games that were overlooked by many. Many people seem to have a problem with the fact that indies are becoming more prevalent, but I think it is a good thing, giving many more people an opportunity to publish their games and let as many people as possible play them.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are undoubtedly big consoles. They have their fair share of AAA titles and important announcements. However, the main genre of games for the next generation will be indie games. The fact that both companies, Sony and Microsoft, are adding self-publishing to their next-gen consoles and that they are dedicating significant press conference time to indie games proves that this will be the main genre in the next generation. It’s a fantastic progression in the industry in my opinion. It will allow so many new games to be released, some of which may be the next big thing.