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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Indie games are made with love for gaming, unlike mainstream products

Baker Hall

“John, you may want to back up,” Mississippi State University alumnus Brenden Harrell said as he called in a 500-kilogram bomb in the hit game “Helldivers 2.” It took a tenth of a second for the bomb to go off. Limbs flew in every direction. Laughter ensued.

So far in 2024, two video games have been at the forefront of conversation. “Palworld” and “Helldivers 2” have had their time in the sun with a combined number of over 2.5 million concurrent players. The one thing the two games have in common is that both were made by independent, otherwise known as indie, developers.

For the uninitiated, all video games are either indie or AAA. According to tech company Arm, AAA games can be defined as “high-budget, high-profile games that are typically produced and distributed by large, well-known publishers.” Like many other games, neither “Palworld” nor “Helldivers 2” fit this bill.

According to polling resource Statista, in 2023, 13,790 indie games were released on Steam compared to a measly 181 triple A titles. The vast majority of these games will forever go unnoticed, but within them exists a love for gaming that remains unmatched.

In 2019, indie game “Outer Wilds” came out. The same year, “The Outer Worlds” also came out. “The Outer Worlds” was a fun AAA title, and I walked away satisfied. “Outer Wilds,” on the other hand, has changed the way I view life itself. Due to the similarities in name, however, some may never know that “Outer Wilds” even exists.

Dan Hardcastle, known online as the YouTube Creator “Nerdcubed” awarded “Outer Wilds” his game of the year award in 2019. In the speech that followed, he said:

“Each [Planet] a bizarre impossible place riddled with life and death and decay and nonsense. Each one dense in history and vandalized by time. Each one nightmarish and so, so beautiful. And in 22 minutes, they’re gone,” Hardcastle said.

“Outer Wilds” is a game about the question of why, and it is stunning. It was one of 5,863 indie games released in 2019.

Back in August 2020 “Marvel’s Avengers” released at full price to mixed reviews. The biggest complaint of the game was its potential. “Marvel’s Avengers” had potential to be an excellent game, but one thing stood in its way. “Marvel’s Avengers” released as what is known as a “live-service game.”

Live-service games are known for their generic gameplay, insurmountable amounts of content and strain on your wallet. They remain loved by AAA developers and publishers and hated by the video game community.

The biggest release of this year so far is a live-service game as well. Released in January, “Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League” also received mixed reviews, but the player base has not lasted even 2 months after release.

Live-service games are not immune to success, “Helldivers 2” can even be considered one, but it greatly differs in its method when compared with AAA games.

This all paints an interesting picture. As it stands right now, AAA companies do still make excellent games. There are many from the past year alone I could point to, but indie games right now give players the most complete experience.

“Hades” is a game that was nominated for The Game Awards’ Game of the Year award in 2020. While the game has a simple concept, it was widely praised for its amount of content on release. The game contains multiple weapons, storylines, powers, combinations of upgrades, styles and even décor for the main character’s room, even though the entire game is about leaving the room and the rest of hell behind forever.

“Thomas Was Alone” is a masterclass in character writing, “The Stanley Parable” is a study on player choice when combined with comedy and “Sifu” is one of the most brutal fighting games of all time.

“Celeste” is a game about loss and depression and how to heal from it, and the entire premise of the game is climbing a mountain. “Little Nightmares” is a horror game that engrains you in a mysterious world with some of the creepiest character design seen in fiction.

There are dozens of indie games from the last decade that have reached the forefront of the gaming community’s attention, and each of them further my point by highlighting the superiority of indie games.

Indie games will forever be special. By definition, they are made for the love of the game and to further video games as an art and as a medium itself, not for profit. It is time that people recognize that.

About the Contributor
John Baladi
John Baladi, Life & Entertainment Editor
John Baladi is a senior business administration major. He currently serves as the Life & Entertainment Editor. [email protected]
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