The industry has changed for the better in many ways, and its fans have too. The general population of gamers are more informed than they used to be, and are more willing to give new experiences a shot. I don’t think a game like Minecraft would have caught on in the mainstream 10 years ago as it has today. But thanks to the widespread use of the internet, Youtube, and social networking word of mouth, the game has sold a STAGGERING 60 million copies thus far. Microsoft recently bought Mojang, Minecraft developer, for 2.5 billion dollars. I mention that because I think indie teams are dreaming bigger than ever before, and their games reflect that, just check out the incredibly ambitious No Man’s Sky, releasing later this year.
First Xbox Live Arcade and then Playstation Network offering smaller indie games for much less than 60 dollars began to catch on in the mid-early 2000’s. PC’s have always been at the forefront, but average console gamers got to experience games like Geometry Wars, Braid, Flower and Shadow Complex and the industry was much better for it. Since then, they’ve continued to prove themselves as rich, viable gaming experiences that stand right proudly next to the bigger juggernauts. Core gamers have welcomed them with open arms, for the most part. (Those of you are dismissive of indie games, it’s hard to reason with you.) Graphics and new technology are still important to gamers, but innovation and new experiences are more important and prominent now than in the past.
On the flip side, many are still stuck in their ways. Hardcore audiences might get frustrated by how annual Call of Duty games continue to be the biggest games of the year, year after year, and how other series have become annualized such as Assassin’s Creed. Of course there are also those who are strictly sports gamers, and only play for a couple months after a new Madden or NBA 2K is released. Oh, and don’t forget the bane of the industry, Facebook & Mobile gamers! While it is true that these groups are missing out on a lot, judging them from a pedestal, while tempting (and okay in moderation), isn’t helping anyone. They’re creating jobs in the industry and stimulating the economy, which in turn creates more opportunities for new, fun, imaginative games. Also, those games are popular for a reason, and while they may seem stale to those of us who branch out a bit more, they are doing something right, as no one is contractually obligate do flock to Madden and Call of Duty every year. So don’t blame the casual gamers, thank them (not literally), and nudge them towards something they’ve overlooked and might enjoy, it’s the right thing to do.