There is a trend that has been becoming increasingly relevant in the gaming industry: Indie Games. Titles created by small companies that have been consistently making big waves in the hearts of gamers everywhere. These humble creations have given a renewed life to a slowly stagnating source of entertainment.
Let's face it, AAA titles have become repetitive. Every year a new iteration of the same old song, repeating over and over in what is becoming an all too predictive cycle. Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Madden, MLB, NBA, even Battlefield. Games have become nearly episodic, but not in the good sense (Wolf Among Us style, more on that later). Genuinely new creations have become scary and even dangerous and so, despite the public's supposed "craving" for new content, developers and publishers fall back on what is comfortable: Sequels and Prequels. Two conventions that are, honestly, lazy and almost always lackluster.
Indie games, on the other hand, have been a breath of fresh air in a stale and tepid era of creativity. They have almost always met with unanimous support and, believe it or not, they almost always come out with better reviews than their big name competition (if you could call the unfair battle between creativity and income "competition"). Look at the last two and a half years alone:
FTL (soon to be releasing an Advanced Edition, which our own Ben Sawyer had a part in)
Retro City Rampage
Dust: An Elysian Tale
Console's Release of Minecraft
Mark of the Ninja
Papo & Yo
Sword & Sworcery
and The Stanley Parable
These games together have an overall average rating of nearly 9. I think the message is clear: Indie Games are what people want. With the enormous surge in the use of crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and the community involving Steam Greenlight, indie developers have the entire industry at their fingertips.
With the recent, nearly viral success of the frustrating yet addictive Flappy Bird by .GEARS Studios, the "trend" that was indie games is becoming much more than that. Indie games are bringing people back into the gaming world, and the cause for this effect is not hard to grasp. Gamers, as a whole, want something unique. They want to play something that isn't the generic, run of the mill, and cliche nonsense that many titles have grown to become. Indie Games are the solution.
This doesn't mean that big developers like Ubisoft and Dice are out of the game though. The successful launch of the Next-Gen consoles offers up new opportunities and the chance to start anew for hundreds of developers and publishers, indie and AAA alike. Respawn Entertainment is just one example of this potential. New IPs are on their way, and with those IPs comes the hope that maybe, just maybe, the big, old dogs have learned a few things from the new guys on the block.
Indie Games have exposed the demand and, at the same time, have given the industry the lift it needed. They not only saved games from sinking into the same stagnation that has begun to plague Hollywood, but they have offered up their own tried and true solution. Give gamers what they want: Creativity. Entertainment that is new, thrills that are unique, and creations that step outside of the box.