'A Golden Age for games of all sizes'
Yesterday, Destructoid ran a story in which designer Peter Molyneux shared his belief that the indie craze will disappear. Specifically, he said that what we're seeing is just a cycle, and that "it won't last."
Many people disagreed with Molyneux's sentiments, including Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson. In an open letter sent to Destructoid, Wilson wrote that indies are making games "because they love it. They aren't competing in secrecy but rather openly collaborating, lifting one another up and inspiring one another. Gamejams!!! And while many of them are doing incredibly well financially, that's not the point, or certainly not the main point. Which we think is what is quite different than the past, at least to our eye."
Read on for the full letter from Mike Wilson.
Dear, Peter. I'm writing you from Moscow... (Just kidding.)
The gang here at Devolver wanted to offer our thoughts on last night's Destructoid article inspired by Peter Molyneux's comments to CVG, to say that we respectfully disagree, not so much with Mr. Molyneux's own words based on his experience, but in the interpretation that infers that the current indie game "craze" (which we believe is more of a revolution) won't last and is doomed to repeat the same cycle and mistakes of the previous decades. We definitely understand the confusion (and even disdain) by artists and companies who bought into the 'bigger is better" dream - chasing the perceived money and power having not yet realized or remembered how much more fun it is to be small. To create fun games instead of impressive games.
These tiny teams are making incredibly tight, creative games with tools that anyone can acquire, non-programmers can use and that don't require the hiring of engineering and art departments on a massive scale. The gameplay mechanics... aka the FUN, and even the storytelling of indie games (which are not a genre, by the way) are made by artists who are truly independent and not owned or beholden to some corporate machine that has nothing to do with the art itself. Indies are surpassing the big games on a regular basis, even while 2013 had some of the most awe-inspiring AAA games ever made.
It's not that one is any better than the other, in our opinion... it's just different types of artists working on entirely different types of projects within this world of digital entertainment we call 'games.' But the core difference, and why we disagree with the idea that this is just a fad or cycle that will repeat itself, is that the basic aspiration of these artists is different. Yes, they are experiencing the excitement of money and opportunity thrown at them, but so far they aren't biting, at least for the most part. These artists are creating whatever they want on their own terms, and that is way more valuable to them than selling out or trying to make something massive.
We aren’t trying to speak on behalf of the indie community here, that’s not our goal. But what we’ve observed is that these ladies and gentleman of the indie community aren't making small games with small teams because they are trying to prove themselves so they can grow into bigger teams and projects. They are choosing to do what they do because they love it. They aren't competing in secrecy but rather openly collaborating, lifting one another up and inspiring one another. Gamejams!!! And while many of them are doing incredibly well financially, that's not the point, or certainly not the main point. Which we think is what is quite different than the past, at least to our eye.
So, while we agree that time is a flat circle and all that, assuming that Devolver Digital or any of these new star developers aspire to become a triple-A studio is like assuming that rappers or DJ's (both also fads or "crazes" right?) wish they could be rock bands or orchestras. That Wes Anderson wishes he were Peter Jackson. That Oculus wishes they were Faceb-... nevermind. That Devolver wishes we had an office and a secretary.
The point is that this isn't a fad; these are the fruits of the breaking down of the brick-and-mortar, corporate driven machine via the miracle of digital distribution (thanks, Gabe!) and therefore are easy, global and accessible for the fans to find whatever they want, not what's being fed to them en masse. The Internet happened. Social and mobile gaming happened. These things aren't going away.
The one point of the article we strongly agree with is that this is indeed a Golden Age for games of all sizes, and we are extremely happy for all the artists, publishers and platforms who are finding freedom in getting small and staying small (and privately held). Video games have blazed a trail of innovative technology, impressive digital feats and given us this glorious industry we call home. Here’s to many more years celebrating games big, small and indie.
** This message was not approved by Fork Parker and does not in any way reflect his views on making fat stacks of cash. **