There are many reasons why indie developers and indie games are becoming more and more seen. Many would think that Kickstarter, IndieGOGo and similar crowd funding websites are the sole reason for this rise, but they would be only partly correct. As always it is never that simple. As no event exists in a vacuum and no event happens on its own without multiple different influences from various sources.
Here are some of the reasons I consider to have influenced the rise.
While I agree that crowdfunding has done wonders for the indie game development, for me there is a different reason why they become this successful. The number one reason, in my opinion, is the emergence of easy to use game development tools like Unity, Unreal Engine, RPG maker, and more. The main reason creating games was only done by large companies was because of the tools. They were much too expensive for individuals and very small teams. Even those that existed and that was affordable were incomplete and it was necessary to use more of them in order to create a full game. Right now it is possible to create a whole game in one of the tools I listed, I do not think those games would be complete or good, but they would be playable.
Tools I mentioned have almost everything you might need in order to finish a game. There are entire libraries of assets, tutorials and much more that can be used to work on a game. Most of it can help with the game development and speed up the entire process. You would still need artists and more, but at least you can do a lot on your own now.
Another great reason for all of this is the ease of publishing your own games. Steam, GOG, Greenmangaming and more are making it much easier to work without a publisher. It is still very difficult to be very successful, but at least it is possible now. You might not earn millions, but you will have a full creative control at least.
For many indie developers, this means a lot, as you can now create a game you want and the way you want. Working with publishers has its benefits as it provides a team with security and a safety net in case something goes wrong. A publisher will provide a team with funds and make it so that some of the pressure will be taken out from the development team. Publishers will provide their assistance with marketing, direction for the game, their previous experiences and much more. Every publisher is a large company of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. They have experienced people in many different areas a small, or even medium-sized, development team may not have.
While all of that is true, for those who like games as an art form, who have their own vision how a game should look like, this might be a problem. Some people have had an idea of a perfect game since they were little, or since they started their career. Most of us want to create our own game, even if it is not profitable. This, of course, will not be possible if working for a publisher. Most people do not realize just how expensive marketing is, and if you want to have a successful game, you have to do a lot of marketing.
I hope this clarified some things or at least gave you an idea of what I consider the reason for the recent success of indie games.
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