Gaming has always been an expensive hobby, as I’m sure you’ll agree. As a child, getting a new game at times other than birthdays and Christmas was a rare occasion to be celebrated and cherished, with many games being completed multiple times on all the difficulty levels, attempting to find all the secrets possible and do everything the game had to offer. At some point recently in time, this widespread attitude has altered.
A majority of developers often limit their content which ships with the original game, possibly relying on the multiplayer aspects of the game to provide value for money, or releasing additional DLC (Downloadable Content) as part of a separate add-on to the game requiring additional purchases from the individual customer. The most obvious example of these marketing tactics are through the Call of Duty series which offers extra map-packs and content available bi-monthly through their £40 a year thank-you-very-much subscription service entitled ‘Call of Duty: Elite’.
However, this isn’t to say that it is just the attitude of developers which has changed towards gaming. It’s arguable that the consumer mind-set has changed too, we often find ourselves purchasing new releases of games just because they’re the must have games of that particular week or month; large franchises such as again, Call of Duty, and Epic Games’ Gears of War are taking advantage of this and releasing ‘new but old’ games; they are almost copies of their predecessors but with a new feature or gameplay aspect with release dates often just a year apart. As an example, Gears of War 3 launched on September 20th, 2011, and the newly announced Gears of War Judgment’s release date is marked for March 13th, 2013. With these ‘must have’ games being launched every 18 months, mainstream gaming continues to slash a hole in the pockets of gamers; full advantage being taken of the addiction of hundreds of thousands of people to their favourite series.
Because of this, one modern niche market of gaming has come to the forefront of the gaming scene: so-called ‘Indie Gaming’; games which have been completely imagined, designed, created and voiced by often a single person or small team of like-minded individuals. These games usually present a nostalgic call-back to the days of 64-bit graphics, simple side-scrolling platformers, and basic gameplay attributes such as collecting items for linear quests. More recently, horror-based Indie gaming has taken social networking and websites such as YouTube by storm. One example being Slender, a first-person game in which you run through a pitch black wood attempting to collect pieces of paper while an eerie looking shadow presented as the ‘Slenderman’, a mythical child-snatcher, chases you around. In addition to this, these games are often very cheap, usually between £1-£5, and sometimes even free, playing on the extensive cost of mainstream gaming and allowing players to get their kicks while maintaining their overdrafts!
Although there are many examples of popular indie-games floating around on the internet, something has to be said for the success of Mojang’s Minecraft. The popularity of Minecraft can be measured not only in the fact that it has sold near to seven million copies on the pc version alone but has also been released onto Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade and is the fastest selling arcade game ever to be released onto the platform, with around 100,000 copies being bought in the first 24 hours, and has held the number 2 spot on the Xbox Live activity charts, clocking more player time than huge developed games such as FIFA 12 and Halo: Reach. Minecraft really objectifies the success and popularity Indie gaming has to benefit from in the current economic depression.