Last night, Sony announced a baker’s dozen worth of new indie games coming to its PlayStation 4 later this year. The expected gems like Spelunky and Nidhogg made the cut, but some new, unknown titles like Chariot were also announced. This is always great news for gamers willing to try new games and are currently disappointed with the thin spread of major releases right now. After all, indie games offer a great break between the madness and can often be played in short bursts. However, how effective and important are independent titles to PlayStation 4 owners? Do they even matter? Would you choose PlayStation over Xbox due to the ridiculous difference in indie games made available? We’ve decided to discuss this very topic this week on our weekly edition of Thursday Throwdown.
Travis Tucker: Yes and no. I would be lying if I said that an indie title was ever going to be a system seller. No one is walking into their local GameStop or Best Buy and saying “I can’t wait to get my PS4 so I can play that latest indie release.” The games that are always going to matter the most are the God of Wars, Uncharteds, and the myriad of third party hits available on the PlayStation 4.
That being said, indie games do play an important role. There can’t always be a major release every month. Indie games can help fill gaps in a release calendar. Just like people want to play something different or offbeat at times. A good indie title can serve as the perfect palate cleanser after completing the latest Assassin’s Creed or going a few rounds in Killzone: Shadow Fall. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you will even stumble upon an indie title truly unique and more engaging than many so called triple A titles. I doubt there are many people that have played titles like Fez or Thomas Was Alone that would say games of that caliber don’t matter just because they are indie titles.
Very few PS4 owners will ever be as excited about a news story about a dozen indie games coming to the system as they would be about a trailer for the next Call of Duty. That doesn’t mean indie games don’t matter. Indie games give us a chance to play something new and different, help fill gaps between major releases, and sometimes manage to surprise us. While they may not get the recognition they deserve, the large lineup of indie titles coming to the PS4 may be more important than the majority of “major releases” coming in 2014.
Joe Garcia: If the comments on the YouTube videos and PlayStation Blog posts that Sony threw up yesterday are any indication, the answer is not nearly as much as they should, and it really bums me the hell out.
This dismal sentiment was especially apparent in the comments for titles like Nidhogg, where the emphasis is far higher on polishing the gameplay than making a graphically intensive game. Many wondered why Sony would allow a game with Atari-like graphics onto the PS4, ignoring the fact that it’s one of the very best games of the 12 indies announced yesterday.
I’d like to think that this is nothing more than a minority that’s as vocal as it is tiny, because everyone that enjoys video games in the slightest should care about indie gaming. Big budget titles will always be what pulls gamers into throwing down the big bucks for new consoles, but they’re not getting any easier to develop. Just look at Sony’s AAA output for 2014 — it’s barely there. But they’re also facilitating the process for smaller games to come over, and despite Sony’s meager first-party offerings, quality games are coming seemingly every week, often exclusively to PlayStation.
Fortunately, the growth of things like the Indie Megabooth at each PAX shows that indie games have a bright future ahead of them, and Sony is doing everything in their power to make sure that PlayStation plays a major role. Hopefully the player base comes along for the ride, otherwise they’ll miss out on some of the most inventive games that you’ll find anywhere.
David Wales:: The bottom line is that indie games really don’t matter to the majority of PlayStation 4 owners. I enjoy a lot of indie games, but can admit that some of the less visually appealing titles aren’t able to grab my attention despite how much fun they truly are. I’ve played a ton of great looking titles like Dust: An Elysian Tale and Don’t Starve, but it’s unlikely I’ll have any interest in the aforementioned Nidhogg. It just doesn’t appeal to my sense of vision enough.
My personal tastes aside, indie games should matter to all of us because they’re capable of doing things not all Triple-A titles are capable of doing. Most AAA titles are limited by what the suits decide is good to move forward with and what isn’t. Unlike those big time developers, indie studios have complete control over their product and the direction they want to take it. That’s a big deal when it comes to creativity within our favorite medium. It’s a luxury and a lot of the complaints you see about bigger budget games are often times due to the limitation that the design team is put under due to finances and other things the big wigs control.
With all of that said, indie games play an intricate part in our console life cycle this time around. They’re going to be used frequently to fill up the space between each major release. They’re going to be great additions for us to play when we need something that is quick and efficient for that pick-up-and-play mentality. Not all of us have time to put 2-3 hours into a game when we sit down, so it’s nice to know we can still game efficiently with a lot of indie titles that offer that exact method of play time. Another huge advantage to indie titles is that they’re usually a fraction of the price of bigger titles. This means if you’re short on cash, you can still get a great experience gaming without having to shell out the $60 for that new game. This is often a huge oversight by console owners and it’s one that shouldn’t be made.
As we move forward and more indies are released, I have a feeling the general appreciation for what they offer will grow within PlayStation 4 owners and things will definitely pick up — including sales for these smaller teams. Indie games are only going to make our industry better in the long run.