Culture & SocietyRetrogaming

Retro Gaming Resurgence

Indie games have let me down

Just lately, I’ve turned my back on indie games. Why? Because they are exhausting.

Not the games themselves, although many of them feel more like work than play. What exhausts me is the relentless hunt for decent indie games. There are just too many of them! And only a small handful seem to be worth playing.

Like so many modern gamers, I’ve found myself instead revisiting to the “good old days” of gaming: the 8 and 16-bit era. Sure, there’s nostalgia value there, but they also have – on average – a level of quality that today’s bottomless ocean of indies just doesn’t match.

Now you’re playing with quality

Check it out. The Nintendo Entertainment System had about 700 licensed games released over its lifetime. The SNES was pretty close to the same. That’s a pool of just seven hundred games. And part of their licensing meant they had to meet the strict standards that Nintendo put in place. Compare that to the more than 4,200 games released on Steam in 2016 alone! Games that were unchecked by any type of licensing agreement and had practically no quality control whatsoever!

So yeah. Retro gaming may come at a higher price per game, but what’s it worth to have a small pool of heavily vetted games that are (almost) all at least playable? It’s much less exhausting, I’ll tell you that.

Retro Gaming is gaining popularity daily

And I’m not the only one that feels this way. The vast majority of gamers spend all their time playing just a handful of games. You know the ones. CS:GO, PUBG, DOTA; the ones that everybody plays and streams. Why do they play the same stuff? I suspect it has to do with the fact there are simply too many options. Believe it or not, there was a time when demand for indie games actually outweighed the supply.

But no more. If you played 24 hours per day for the rest of your life, you still couldn’t get through every Steam game released in 2016. You couldn’t even play every game released in January of 2016! There is no demand that can justify the current supply. So gamers pick one that doesn’t suck too much, and they play that. And pretty much only that.

Retro gaming is becoming a more and more appealing alternative to indie gaming. There are no new titles being produced on the NES, SNES, Genesis, Master System, whatever. What’s there is there and has been for years.

I’m very tired of scrolling through screen after screen of half-baked indie turds. I know there are good indie games out there; I’ve worked with their developers. I’ve done my best to bring decent games to light, but there comes a point when you just feel like you’re shouting into a vacuum.

Not like I’m announcing retirement or anything – and not that anyone reading this is likely to care even if I was – I’m just venting about the current state of the indie market.

And, of course, I’m also plugging my new retro gaming YouTube channel. Retro gaming has supplied me with breathing room to enjoy gaming the way it was meant. And I know I’m not alone.

Too many turds: The current indie market is unsustainable.

Here’s another tidbit to ponder:

This massive influx of shoddy games isn’t unprecedented. This has happened before, back in the early eighties. Every would-be developer was releasing shovelware into the market. Not just Atari games, but entirely new systems. Every electronics manufacturer had their own system. The market couldn’t support it. Prices plummeted. The market crashed.

It begs the question: are we perched on the edge of another video game crash? Perhaps I’ll explore this further in a future article. Till then, let me guide you to some great retro games.


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Steven Long

Steve is an IndieWatch O.G. He has long supplied marketing information for the aspiring developer. More recently he has been creating content for retrogaming enthusiasts on his YouTube channel. Find him on Twitter @Longie_long and at Patreon.

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