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Indie dev hails the bursting of the indie bubble

Do you think there’s too many indie games out there to really find diamonds among the rough? Does it seem like too much work and you ultimately find yourself sticking with established names or those that do well in reviews? You’re not the only one. Jeff Vogel, developer of several RPGs and head of Spiderweb Software, has said he believes the indie bubble is about to burst and it’s going to be tragic.

In the wake of Minecraft and Braid he said, so many developers realised they could go it alone and be profitable and many of them have been. The problem, he reckons, is that there’s just too many of them now: how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

“This wouldn’t be a problem if there were a demand, but there’s not,” he continues. “After all, almost 40% of games bought on Steam don’t get tried.” He has a point too. If any of us look at our Steam Library, there’s no doubt tens or maybe even hundreds of games we’ve never played, especially if you factor in those bought in bundles.

It’s those bundles that Vogel also thinks are problematic. Just look at Humble Bundle. It went from showing up with something new once a month, to every week, to recently, it’s offering bundles of games every single day for two weeks. That’s tens of new games that chances are, won’t be played – for the most part, and nobody is buying them.

The major downside of a daily bundle, is no one seems to care. This one has 6 hours to go and it’s made almost nothing

” The problem is that a business based on selling things people don’t want is not a stable one,” Vogel continued. This is leading to Steam trying to remove itself from the vetting procedure, but this means that without a curator of content, only those with marketing budgets are going to get noticed (read: not indie developers).

“Indie gaming started out as games written with passion for people who embraced and loved them. Now too much of it is about churning out giant mounds of decent but undifferentiated product to be bought for pennies by people who don’t give a crap either way.”

So what’s the result of all this? The middle ground developers go away. The super small ones, the indies with one, maybe two people working on their games, can survive, because they only need a couple of thousand sales and they’re making enough to live on. But those with 10 people working on the games? That’s much harder to sustain.

It’s not Steam’s fault though. Vogel believes it loves games, bitterly and deeply, but there’s no way the people who love games want to decide who lives and dies by who it promotes, so it’s getting out of dodge and trying to make a survival of the fittest environment, and who can blame it.

“Steam found themselves in a position of being hated for something it could do nothing about. Not to mention the fact that the sort of curation they were doing was impossible in the long term. You shouldn’t want the games you can buy to be controlled by some guy at a stand-up desk in Bellevue, WA. They aren’t wizards. They can’t tell what’s going to be a hit any more than anyone else. The free market has to do that job.”

KitGuru Says: Do you guys think the industry is heading for a bit of a collapse? If so, who will survive on the other site of it?

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