Indie + publisher = dehydrated water?
The last few years have seen a huge influx of indie games on consoles, PC, and handhelds, providing potential players with more choices than many know what to do with. While the struggle to sort through tens of thousands of game releases a year may be a new problem, the issue of determining which games are worth buying and playing before we’ve actually played them is as old as games themselves. Generally speaking, your average consumer doesn’t want to have to give that decision a lot of thought. Ideally, they’d like to be able to make that judgement in a matter of seconds.
That’s a big part of why a lot of us have come to follow particular game franchises, mascots and publishers. The more we can do to narrow our focus on just the games we’re likely to love, the more time we can spend playing games and the less time we can spend second guessing our decisions. Hence the rise of the “indie publisher.”
They don’t always bank roll or actively influence the development of games they represent. If they did, their developers wouldn’t necessarily be “indie” anymore. Instead, their primary role is usually to provide branding to unknown quantities. They work to curate for the consumer, to vouch for strange games that might otherwise be overlooked. It’s clearly a service people value. At PAX East this year, Devolver Digital, Double Fine, and the below featured Adult Swim Games had some of the most well trafficked booths at the show. I remember just a few years ago when Adult Swim had nothing but a six foot by six foot kiosk at PAX. Now its booth is more like a mini arcade than a cubical, featuring beloved game devs like Justin Stander (Tower of Heaven, Katana Zero) just standing around being cute.
So which “indie publisher” have you come to trust and respect the most? Any that we haven’t heard of that you think we should check out?