As rumors swirl around and as we get more glimpses into the almost-always-online future of the Xbox One, people are a bit bothered by the possibility that this is simply the way future gaming is going to be.
Unfortunately, that's what happens when Microsoft reveals a so-called "console" and almost completely ignores games. It doesn't inspire confidence that gaming is going to be the focus in our future game industry.
This is where indies step in. Now, that word - indie - is becoming rather blurred. Have you seen Minecraft's sales lately? Have you seen the graphics for The Witness? To me, "indie" simply means "not AAA big-name retail release, and priced accordingly". Indie games are anywhere from $5-$30 and they are meant to provide entertainment at a lower cost of entry than a full-blown $60 retail game.
Last gen, indie developers made splash after splash. We had Castle Crashers, Geometry Wars, Fez, Binding of Isaac, Journey, Braid, Super Meat Boy, and many more games. Not to get off topic, but most of the popular indie games were revivals of old arcade-style games, and that was cool. What happens, however, when indies in the 8th generation of gaming decide to brand out beyond pick-up-and-play arcade experiences and explore other genres? We already saw it with Journey. We already saw it with Telltale's Walking Dead. We're gonna see it again with The Witness. Perhaps even the almighty shooter genre will be co-opted by indie devs. Unlikely, but a man can hope, right?
Anyway, back on topic. Games are getting expensive. Next-gen, they're going to be even more expensive, what with required online, used-game fees, and (of course) more DLC racking up the price of games. Indie games will always be the cheaper alternative, and there is a possibility that next-gen consoles will thrive based on how they treat indies.
Though it may seem completely foreign to us, what if someone bought a PS4 to play indie games? It sounds crazy, right? I mean, who would spend the money just to play a bunch of indie games? Well, people once said that about smartphones and tablets (especially tablets). We were told that people wouldn't care to buy a brand-new tablet just to play $1 apps. Boy oh boy, we were wrong. In the same way, it is impossible to predict where the next "craze" will appear, and being able to grab four $15 indie games for the price of one big AAA retail release is something that more and more people are going to consider, especially with the status of our global economy.
I don't know about you folks, but I will definitely be spending more money on downloadable indie games this year than I'll be spending on brand-new retail releases. That's simply because indie games often offer a more convenient method of playing games (short, quick, quirky, and fun). Nothing against The Last of Us, but I'll instead be dropping my cash on Spelunky HD and Fez when they hit PSN this summer. Will there be other gamers like me in the 8th gen, people who only buy the occasional $60 release but instead spend a lot of money on smaller downloadable titles? That's hard to say, but it appears (based on pieces of tech known as "smartphones") that the gaming market is moving in that direction.
Obviously, big-name, big-budget AAA titles are always going to be an integral part of gaming, but if the Wii-U and Vita have taught us anything, it's that videogame droughts DO exist, even in the magical new world of the 8th gen. It's never a bad thing to be able to ride through those game droughts with some fun, cheap indie games at your disposal.