Video games are too expensive in India

Indie gaming scene in Germany
Dwarf uprising

No video game will be a success without a budget of millions and a large publisher behind you. But those times are over. Today, independent developers are stirring up the games market with small, fine games.

As World of Goo and Braid First saw the light of day at the end of 2008, independent games were noticed by a broader public for the first time. At the latest with the open world game released in 2011 Minecraft the independent movement has arrived in the game industry. In the German games market - as in music, film, literature and fashion - efforts to be independent from the established industry are creating a breath of fresh air: a diverse, new range that is not only geared towards mass tastes, but also serves niches, is competing to mainstream.

Without money and without market pressure

The indie revolution has created a whole new world of games. Without financial support and independent of major publishers, i.e. video games publishers, indie developers let their creativity run free. In small studios or often on your own, the games are created on your own. Because indie developers get to work without market pressure, they also implement fresh, hitherto unproven game concepts, experiment with new narrative methods and therefore often produce more innovations than the big publishers with their millions in budgets ever risk in their so-called AAA games. Indie games can hardly keep up with the glossy graphics of the big titles, but they are significantly cheaper - or even free.

German developers are rather good

The German scene is still making comparatively little use of the unrestricted freedom and opportunity to experiment. Overall, "many German developers are good and not very radical," says Jana Reinhardt, who already dealt with independent games in her diploma thesis and, in October 2014, the game with her studio Rat King TRIpublished. She wishes for "more craziness in the gameplay, the narration and also the graphics". Already during the apprenticeship, the focus is often more on market orientation than on creative independence. In order to promote the German indie scene, Jana Reinhardt set up the indie arena together with game designer Martin Nerurkar - a forum for regular exchange with now over 300 members. Game jams and festivals also play an important role in promoting talent because funding is in short supply in Germany. Video games are officially a cultural asset, but this is not reflected in the funding: Less than a hundredth of the film funding goes into video games.

Thorsten S. Wiedemann would also like to see more experimentation in the German indie scene. For the founder of the independent video games festival A-Maze, it is primarily important to unite games, technology, culture and art. "A-Maze is about the quality of the content, the artistic examination and implementation in the form of a game, the experiment, the further development of the medium in all conceivable directions," said Wiedemann. A-Maze contributes a lot to the visibility and direction of the German indie scene.

Germany catching up

Tiny wingsby Andreas Illiger (youtube.com)

Really great international successes have hardly been born in German indie development rooms. But it was developed independently by the Swedish programmer Markus Persson Minecraftproves that indie games can also become a hit financially: the game has been sold over 50 million times, has 100 million registered users and is now owned by Microsoft. A number of other prominent games such as the Finnish one Angry Birdsnourish the dream of quick success. However, because the majority of indie developers do not have such a lucky hand and often pursue their own game idea as a sideline, more and more independent developers are collecting money on crowdfunding platforms. However, the most famous Kickstarter platform was only launched in Germany in autumn 2014. In addition, crowdfunding has often turned out to be a vicious circle for German indie developers, because only a well-known name usually paves the way for pre-financing. Another reason for the breakthrough of indie games is also on the web: Today, the way to the customer no longer necessarily leads via dealer shelves. Digital distribution channels via game platforms such as Steam or app stores are cheaper and easier to use. The hurdles of bringing your own game onto the market also fall through a number of developer tools that decouple game development from extensive programming knowledge. For example, the moving story of To the mooncreated with the program series RPG-Maker, and the game developed with Game-Maker Hotline Miamitrumps with addicting gameplay. Both games received multiple awards.

Promising future prospects

Perfect womanby Lea Schönfelder and Peter Lu (Youtube.com)

All of these developments make it easier than ever to create a game yourself and bring it online. Although the German indie scene has so far benefited comparatively little from the relief, it is catching up: There are now quite a few developers in Germany whose games stand out from the crowd and have also made a name for themselves on the international market. The adventure game, which was awarded the German Computer Game Prize in 2014, kidnaps you The Inner Worldby Studio Fizbin takes the player into a lovingly drawn fantasy world and offers a lot of challenging puzzles. Also in 2014 Lea Schönfelder and Peter Lu outpaced the international competition and won with their game Perfect womanthe A-Maze main prize to Germany. Andreas Illiger has it with his cult game Tiny wingseven made it to the top of the App Store charts. And in 2013 it was awarded the German Computer Game Prize in the “Best Youth Game” category Tiny & Bigfrom Black Pants Studio manages to "implement the idiosyncratic charm of their bizarre comic artwork with the professionalism of an established developer studio", according to the jury.

Jana Reinhardt considers the future prospects of the German indie scene to be very promising, because “there are now more teams who have established their studio, have more than one good title and have contacts that are necessary to address the international press”.