In alignment with Brad’s recent dive into broken games, it’s time to discuss why Indie games were king in 2014.

So we all know that 2014 was such a terrible year for AAA releases, no matter what console you were on it was evident that a lot of games were rushed, unfinished and riddled with glitches. There was one type of games development that managed to mostly avoid this, the Indie Game.

Besides OlliOlliย (which launched with a glitch that only affected a small number of its player base) and MineCraft for PlayStation Vita (which suffers from some serious connection issues) most indie games had little to no problems at launch, so this doesn’t really hold the AAA development community in good stead.

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The way it can be seen is, AAA development is the higher class, games with big budgets, more people working on them and in a lot of cases, more talented people working on them. Indie Games however can be seen in most cases as the lesser experienced, smaller teams with little to no budget in which they have to build a game. However, as of recent, it seems that it has been the indies who have been showing off the talent over AAA developers.

So when putting the two into comparison, you’d think that it’d be the Indie developers who would suffer with launch problems, of things being broken upon the games launch, I mean, for the most part Indie developers are the less experienced of the two, some of these developers have only made one or two games prior to release, or this could be their first game entirely.

Moving on to the main focus on this subject however, there were a tonne of amazingly crafted, well made Indie games in 2014, some that a lot of people will have ignored in favour of games like Assassin’s Creed Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, The Crew and many more.

Looking at the list of 2014’s top rated games on the homepage of this very website, you’ll see names such as Velocity 2X which we gave a perfect score, FEZ which we also gave a perfect score and then there’s Don’t Starve, Rogue Legacy and The Swapper which all very nearly got perfect scores. Most of these games were created with very little funding, by small teams with very little experience in creating video games.

Fire-works

It’s safe to say that, in particular, Velocity 2X will go on to be one of the Vita’s best games, and stands up as a competitor for one of the best Indie games ever created, it was a game that. even with only a small amount of DLC, provided me with more play time than almost any other game released in 2014. But it was not Velocity 2X that truly stole my heart in 2014, it was Rogue Legacy.

Looking back, I easily put 30-40 hours into Rogue Legacy, I finished the game 3 times, nearly levelling up all of the characters stats and, yet, I keep going back to it! It has a certain charm that no AAA title on any platform could offer me in 2014 and because of this, it is one of my most memorable moments of 2014 without a doubt.

I recently finished the single player campaign for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on PlayStation 4, and while it was one of the better stories in recent Call of Duty games it took me only 6 hours to complete on the second off hardest difficulty, the same day I finished it I traded it in as I felt like I was done with the game and I’d likely not play it again.

The two main things that stood out for Velocity 2X and Rogue Legacy considering the state of gaming in 2014 is that they weren’t broken at launch, these two games worked perfectly fine, no bugs, no crashes. However,ย when I was playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare I encountered several bugs, glitches and crashes that forced me to restart levels from the beginning, which left me rather annoyed.

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As for how this links to the Vita and it’s future, there is a heck of a lot of Indie games coming in 2015, including some of the best if 2014 that are yet to hit the platform including Shovel Knight, Super Time Force and Bastion. The thing that will hopefully make these games special is that they weren’t rushed in development, and that on day one, they’ll hopefully be playable without any problems, without any game breaking bugs or glitches.

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The future of AAA development looks bleak for gamers at the moment, with many worrying which publisher will be the next to release a game that doesn’t work properly on day one, which game will have broken online servers on day one? But for those gamers, the younger generation of developers are the ones to watch, the ones who put time and love into their projects, and not the ones who are looking for a quick cash grab.

Did you have any problems with AAA games in 2014? Did you have any problems with Indie Games in 2014? Feel free to sound of in the comments or even correct me if I’m wrong, after all these are just purely my thoughts.

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Vita enthusiast and once declared as 'Champion of the Vita', Liam's love for Sony's handheld know's no bounds. He's happy playing most Vita titles and most recently found himself enjoying indie titles, but will totally give you a good run for your money in any beat-em-up
  • vander

    love indies

  • Slizarus

    Hm, I’ll definitely give you that they take their time, which has it’s ups and downs, but for those with atleast an aesthethic or grace in gameplay that defies graphical power, they usually turn out alright ๐Ÿ™‚ I am happy Games are again in the hands of individuals with a dream and a lot of time to devote, I remember thinking in the 2000’s that the only small team/budget software you’d find were mods.. with today’s accessible game engines and publishing venues, those mod makers are just making new games! It’s awesome ๐Ÿ˜€

  • vongruetz .

    The rise of indie game development is like the rise of the indie film industry. The tools for production and means of distribution have become so affordable that nearly anyone can do it. Years ago it costs a lot of money to make a movie. Film and processing costs alone would sink you. Even if you did get it made, you’d have no place to show it. Your audience would be tremendously small.
    With the rise of digital video and distribution sites like YouTube, anyone from anywhere can create video content and have it seen by millions. The big production houses and television studios that once had an iron grip on this business are now put on equal footing with a guy commenting during a game stream.
    The same goes for game development. The tools to create a game have become so affordable that in some instances they’re free. And with digital distribution and more open online stores, the method to distribute those games becomes tremendously easy. This breaks the business paradigm that has been in place and suddenly those talented few individuals are no longer beholden to a large publisher in order to survive. Smaller games can still bring in a profit for a smaller studio.
    This makes me think that these studios, these small teams, can then craft games they’re passionate about and truly love. They can also make simpler games, ones that wouldn’t survive in the AAA space. Velocity 2X would not have been brought to market if you had to convince retailers to stock it on their shelves. But thanks to the inexpensive cost of entry, we’re going to see more indie games come to consoles. Some will be brilliant hits and others will fall far short of their goals. But these independent minded developers will continue to dream and produce new experiences.
    It’s a pretty fantastic time to be a gamer.

    • Nonscpo

      While I agree with you that the ease of use and low barrier to entry is a good thing, as it adds some much needed diversity. We need to keep our eye out as a communtiy for any potential bad apples down the road. What Im concerned about (and Im looking right at you STEAM), is the potential for the market to get saturated with low quality games. We also need to be concerned with the recent trend of “Political Correctness” and “Social Justice” movements, that have been entering the gaming industry over the last couple of years; Yes we must be vigilant over any potential propaganda games that make it onto digital storefronts. Finally, as much as I love the idea of crowdfunding games, especially as I discovered Kickstarter and Sekai Project in 2014. The reality is that people need to be better informed about the risk of crowdfunding campaigns and there needs to be more accountability on the part of the indie studios.

      P.S. Looking forward to Shovel Knight on VITA ๐Ÿ˜€

  • cannedpete

    After reading this article I realized I don’t think I played any AAA titles this year, besides Alien: Isolation and the 15 minutes that is Ground Zeroes. It was a transitional year where new consoles dropped and there wasn’t much to really brag about unless you like tired old staples such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. New titles like Watch Dogs and Destiny didn’t resonate with me. Pretty much everyone I know was disappointed. Plus a lot of us have backlogs built up from last console cycle. But the bright shining joy I had this year was the Vita particularly Velocity, Soul Sacrifice, and Freedom Wars. I just hope more stuff keeps coming out. I’m pumped for Bastion as I really like Transistor.

    I think when it comes to Indie games there is less to go wrong and more of a controlled effort when it comes to making games. AAA titles often have too many grandiose concepts that they can’t achieve and watered down storytelling designed for mass appeal, not necessarily mass awesomeness. But better days are around the corner as the full capabilities of new consoles get utilized. I just want to see more cross buy. I would have played Dragon’s Crown a lot more if I didn’t have to buy it twice. In fact I regret not buying the Vita version. That was stupid.

  • Buckybuckster

    Some interesting observations Liam. Yeah indies ruled the Vita software landscape last year, but I see a much simpler reason behind their reign. Our fave little handheld has become a very attractive destination for the independent developer while the poor sales numbers in the west (especially here in N.A.), has made the platform somewhat of a risky proposition for all but a scant few of the major western developers. Thankfully the localization train from Japan is showing no sign of derailment, so we should continue to get their AAA stuff.

    As far as indies being less buggy, I’ve had to update plenty of indies to fix this issue or that issue post release. So I can’t really say that they’re less buggy than trip A releases. But that’s a “your experience may vary” kinda thing. I’m just glad we can fix bugs with downloads and updates. Just a few gens back, that wasn’t even an option.

    Indies rule Vita ’cause there’s just plain more them. I love indies to death, but even I wish we were seeing more AAA titles released.

  • PizzaSlapper

    The thing for me is that I just don’t trust AAA games anymore, even though I still would love to see them on the Vita. But there’s just so much bullshit surrounding it; Micro-transactions, false advertising, rushed games, uninteresting gameplay and plot.

    With indies that’s not the case (mostly). They got new, interesting ideas, interesting mechanics and mostly, they can also be straight up simple. AAA titles always try to be big, with the latest technology and groundbreaking graphics and I feel like a lot of the time, they choose graphics over gameplay. Which indies don’t do nearly as much. (Though I’m getting pretty sick of the “16-bit” pixelart trend that’s been dominating indie)

    I would love to see some more AAA games, as well as indies, as well as some bigger indies (like A Hat in Time).

  • gamezalv

    I put 116 hrs into rouge legacy without even realising it!!

  • Reza Gerami

    Both COD and Watch Dogs had severe stuttering issues on the PC which ruined my experience of both games. Too bad since both games probably COULD be amazing had they been better optimized. I have played a lot of indies on the Vita, my favorite so far has been Hotline Miami. Will have to check out more titles when I have the time!