Extra Lives: Indie or AAA?


Nick Booth, JagWire copy editor

It seems as if there’s been a dominating attitude in the video game industry in the past few years which largely favors independently developed projects as opposed to those made by AAA (corporate) studios and publishers.

Part of this is probably due to the timely rise of digital distribution — it’s easier than ever for anybody to publish their game on platforms like Steam, Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Store. This has led to a flood of highly popular indie games over the past several years, such as “Braid,” “Super Meat Boy” and “FTL: Faster Than Light.” All these games attained a high level of both sales success and critical praise, cementing their status in the history of games.

With massively successful indie projects like these, it’s not hard to see why so many are turning more and more apathetic toward the AAA market, especially considering some of the flops big companies have been putting out lately. “Watch_Dogs,” advertised by publisher Ubisoft as being a “true next-gen game,” ended up being an altogether underwhelming affair, with no more than a standard open-world experience, seemingly countless glitches and graphics that looked worse than the trailer. “The Order: 1886” had a similar problem, disappointing gamers with an incredibly short game while still retaining the standard $60 sticker price.

The attitude that this creates about indie games as opposed to AAA games is seen pretty easily when looking at projects like “Indie Game: The Movie,” which mainly follows the developers of three indie games, painting a portrait of indie developers as scrappy underdogs fighting against the tyranny of corporations. Again, it’s hard not to see things this way with the way the industry’s been going lately.

However, I don’t know if an entirely anti-AAA mindset is necessarily the best way to go. After all, large games aren’t necessarily bad: in the past couple of years, big studios have given us “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Bioshock Infinite,” both excellent games. Big, large-budget games have their advantages and disadvantages, as do indie games, which often suffer from development and polish problems.
At the end of the day, I’ll never really be able to choose between indie and AAA games. I like the charm that comes with indies, but the production quality that comes with AAAs. Luckily, because of the wide range of games available to me, I won’t ever have to choose.

Senior Nick Booth has played games since he was a young child. He is still an avid PC gamer to this day, spending a large portion of his time playing with a keyboard and mouse.

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