IndieBox Puts Hit Indie Games Into Swanky Collector's Boxes

IndieBox Puts Hit Indie Games Into Swanky Collector's Boxes

IndieBox logo

IndieBox is a new subscription-based service that offers monthly releases of hit indie games in unique, loot-filled boxed editions.

The advent of digital distribution has been a tremendous boon for indie game developers, opening up access to markets around the world without any of the costs associated with conventional distribution. It's ridiculously convenient for gamers as well - instead of having to go to the mall and put up with crowds and surly clerks, we can just click, download and play. But all that accessibility and convenience comes at a price: Game boxes, and all the magical stuff they used to contain, are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

That's a void IndieBox hopes to fill with its "retro-style collector's edition boxes" of popular indie games. The program debuted earlier this week with an impressively loaded edition of Teslagrad, which came with a "USB game cartridge," 24-page manual, soundtrack CD, poster, a sticker, four buttons and Teslamancer papercraft. Sadly for fans just hearing about it now, it's too late to get in on the action: It's already sold out, and there won't be any more.

This is where the "program" part of IndieBox comes into play. Rather than a conventional store, it's a subscription-based service; you sign up for a monthly fee, and you get whatever game comes out each month. A single month sign-up costs $16.99, while a six-month plan breaks down to $14.99 per month. IndieBox does maintain a separate store where surplus copies will be sold, but for now it's strictly first-come, first-served, and those who arrive late go home empty-handed.

"Because we are self-funded, we only had about 50 [Teslagrad] boxes left over from our initial order and they sold out pretty quickly," IndieBox President James Morgan explained. "With this next month, we've been fortunate enough to see a 50 percent jump in subscribers and we'll be ordering at least 100 more boxes than we need. We charge a premium for these boxes because people that see THE game they want to have a copy of (but are unsure of the service) are willing to pay extra for it if it saves them the uncertainty of paying $15/mo for something they may not want."

Nostalgia is obviously a big factor here, and Morgan said it's also part of why IndieBox doesn't reveal which games are coming each month. The hope is that the mystery will rekindle the feeling of the pre-internet era, when purchase decisions were made based primarily on the back of the box, rather than a ready overload of promotional trailers, previews and "let's play" videos.

"We want our members to determine the value by the entire experience they receive in the physical goods and the digital. We're in a weird place right now in the games industry that is a 'race to the bottom' in digital stores. Unless games are on some sort of bundle or holiday sale for $1-$5, gamers are starting to feel that they are paying too much. This is a dangerous mindset that has already started seeing its toll on mobile app stores. Developers can't survive with this type of audience mentality," he said. "So, we keep it a mystery so that you are hyped about the game, no matter what it is, by the sheer fact that you now have a REAL box with all the goodies inside that was made for you."

Morgan said the long-term goal is to develop a fully-stocked store with access to past titles, so that latecomers willing to pay the higher price for specific titles will be able to do so without having to be at the head of the line. "It just relies on how well we do and what we can afford," he said. And that higher price for non-subscribers isn't all that terribly high: The Teslagrad box went for a relatively paltry $19.99.

I'm pretty weird about game boxes - I love them, and I love the stuff that comes in them - so I don't think I can really judge whether or not this is a good idea. The jump in subscriber numbers from May to June indicates a certain degree of interest, but is it sustainable, either as a subscription service or a store? I'd happily pay for boxed versions of, say, Legend of Grimrock or Race the Sun, but would you?

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If it wasn't for the 'mystery' bit, I'd like this a lot more.

There's a LOT of crappy indie games, or indie games I care little for, so...yeah.

Hey! IndieBox here!

We completely understand about the "mystery" side of it. We specifically order more boxes every month so that we can still serve fans of our featured indie games without feeling like they are taking a "risk".

We make sure that every indie game meets the following requirements:

1. The game must support Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. No gamer left behind!
2. The game must have a score of 75/8.0 or better on Steam/IndieDB, respectfully.
3. The game must have been released no more than 6 months from the time that we initially contact them. We do this because we have to find the best time to feature a specific game and/or have enough time to work with busy developers.

We make sure we put our games through a rigid test to ensure that our members love their IndieBox - hopefully you will too!

Tanis:
If it wasn't for the 'mystery' bit, I'd like this a lot more.

There's a LOT of crappy indie games, or indie games I care little for, so...yeah.

I'm torn on this. On one hand, my instinct is to agree - I only want to pay for games I actually have an interest in. But on the other, we're talking $15 to $17 each, and if they're consistently as well-loaded as Teslagrad, that's a pretty solid deal. Even if they're not all gold (which they obviously won't be), there's a pretty good likelihood that I'm going to stumble across one or two "surprises" that I end up really liking. Looking at it simplistically, a six-month sub is $90, which is less than I paid for each of Divinity: Original Sin, Wasteland 2 and Grim Dawn on Kickstarter, all sight unseen. And for that I get six (potentially) hot CEs.

I feel obligated to point out that I'm not employed by IndieBox, I'm not even a subscriber, and I'm certainly not trying to convince anyone to join. I just think it's really interesting to see someone attempting to go back to the glory days of boxes with games that have a decidedly non-box-like nature - sort of like a reverse GOG, really. (Which we also cover here with some regularity.)

I think I like this idea! But I need something like this for Europe. Sorry, but 13$ shipping is basically the whole game in itself!

Or couldn't there be the possibility that you can choose to get the games digitally every month, but the boxes bundled in one subscription-time? So if you subscribe for 1-month, you get the boxes each month, but if you subscribe for 6 months, you get a "big" package of 6 game boxes every 6 months (if you want so)! This would save me a ton of money!

You don't have to deal with the "mystery" if you're willing to pay the premium.

I wouldn't subscribe because I am too damned picky but, I would certainly pay a little extra to cherry pick my favorites from a list.

TheIndieBox:
Hey! IndieBox here!

We completely understand about the "mystery" side of it. We specifically order more boxes every month so that we can still serve fans of our featured indie games without feeling like they are taking a "risk".

We make sure that every indie game meets the following requirements:

1. The game must support Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. No gamer left behind!
2. The game must have a score of 75/8.0 or better on Steam/IndieDB, respectfully.
3. The game must have been released no more than 6 months from the time that we initially contact them. We do this because we have to find the best time to feature a specific game and/or have enough time to work with busy developers.

We make sure we put our games through a rigid test to ensure that our members love their IndieBox - hopefully you will too!

That actually sounds pretty nice.

Since you are here, do you ship to Norway?

fenrizz:

TheIndieBox:
Hey! IndieBox here!

We completely understand about the "mystery" side of it. We specifically order more boxes every month so that we can still serve fans of our featured indie games without feeling like they are taking a "risk".

We make sure that every indie game meets the following requirements:

1. The game must support Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. No gamer left behind!
2. The game must have a score of 75/8.0 or better on Steam/IndieDB, respectfully.
3. The game must have been released no more than 6 months from the time that we initially contact them. We do this because we have to find the best time to feature a specific game and/or have enough time to work with busy developers.

We make sure we put our games through a rigid test to ensure that our members love their IndieBox - hopefully you will too!

That actually sounds pretty nice.

Since you are here, do you ship to Norway?

YES! We do! Make sure you use the code JUNE10 to get 10% off any subscription order!

Wow, it's strange that this concept does elicit nostalgia. I remember being in Woolworths and other High St. stores of the day, over two decades ago, looking at the racks of C64 tapes. They were 1.99-2.99 then. A friend and I would look through them all, read the handful of tiny words, the cassette art and the cool names. Then we'd buy one, take it back to one of our homes and start the tape loading, which might take anywhere from 25-50 minutes. Those psychedelic coloured lines flickered while it loaded.

We were treated to some great games then. Outrun, Gauntlet, Operation Wolf and R-Type, Bubble Bobble and so many others. The Amiga was as much fun and I still have my old Amiga game boxes (and my disks, though I don't know if they'll work today since they apparently have a shelf life).

Sounds like a great idea. I'm not sure it's for me, since the industry has moved on without me and the games I'd like more of aren't made any more and there aren't a great deal of indie titles I've enjoyed. I wish them luck however and think bringing back boxes (the change to DVD cases was one of my least favourite moves in the industry) is brilliant. I also appreciate the mystery element giving subscribers a (hopefully) pleasant, tangible surprise each month.

 

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