On the Ball

On the Ball
On The Ball: So Indie It Hurts

Jordan Deam | 27 Jan 2010 23:00
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But it's not just the price-point that's up in the air for indie developers - it's the entire retail model. Chalk it up to their "experimental" nature, but many indie designers have eschewed the standard "X dollars equals one game" method of selling their wares in favor of much more unorthodox means. World of Goo developers 2D Boy recently put their flagship title on sale for the low, low price of whatever you felt like paying, while Australian developer Farbs (whom we featured in our Indie Developer Showcase earlier this week) has employed a subscription model in which $20 gets you immediate access to his first game, Captain Forever, and all subsequent releases. And then there's Cactus, a Swedish developer who's made his entire catalogue of games available for free and subsists entirely on donations.

All this is to say that it's not only pointless to try and compare the objective value of one indie game against another - it's actually impossible. But that doesn't make the question of value any less pressing, or the expense of guessing wrong any less costly. Some developers, like Cavanagh, are pricing their games out of reach of plenty of people who would likely try them and love them if they could justify them as impulse purchases. Others, like Derek Yu and Cactus, are releasing years' worth of hard work and not making a penny for it. I can't speculate on the individual economic circumstances of an entire group of people with whom I've only communicated by email and phone, but my fear is that these creators will spend their "starving artist" years making huge strides in the art and craft of game design, only to be forced to leave their passions behind once their real-world financial obligations start to stack up.

This isn't about bowing down to gamers' sense of entitlement. It's about making sure that the developers who are at the vanguard of game design are making enough to push forward even further. Terry, we both know VVVVVV is worth more than $15, but it needs to cost less. And Cactus, if the choice is between making money and making art, for the love of God, start charging for your games!

Jordan Deam actually believes one VVVVVV is greater than or equal to a thousand Rogue Warriors.

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