Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Indiepocalypse Continues: Arcen’s Story

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 29, 2016

This sucks.

So Arcen has a critical success that is a commercial flop, for various reasons, and this small indie team is going to have to be gutted as a result.

I was talking to a friend on Facebook today, and I mentioned that when the market gets like this, when supply totally outgrows demand by such a huge factor, suppliers / makers start slitting their own throats to earn their customers, and the market begins to perceive this as normal. And so you get comments like the ones in the PC Gamer article about this.

While many of them are behaving like asses, many of them (even the jerks) have a point. I mean, at this point, I’ve got way more games than I’ve got time to play them, so I really need to be sold on a game to consider forking out even a little money for it. But I still get new ones – especially indie games – that interest me because I understand the dev side of things too, and realize that I can’t demand that a developer spend a million dollars to make me happy enough to give them $15. That’s silly.

But that’s also the market we’re in now. Until the “Indiepocalypse” runs its full course, it’ll be the “new normal.” Maybe one day people will say, “Remember back in the mid 2010s when companies were falling over backwards and running at huge losses to make us more games than we could possibly play, and selling them to us for only $5? Good times, good times…”

The gold rush is playing out like it always has. As a gamer, enjoy it. As a developer… well, decide what you really want to do. If it’s to make games, I guess the answer is to buckle down and ride out the storm. It won’t be over quickly. And it won’t ever be easy.


Filed Under: Biz - Comments: 5 Comments to Read

  • Maklak said,

    To me a sad part is that when the competition is this fierce, game makers want to reward the player for everything, make him feel special and hook him in to the point where immersion / realism suffer and it almost feels like a case of getting sick from eating too much sweets.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    What can’t last forever, won’t. I know some customers (and many in the games biz) are really, really pushing for the indies to rejoin the AAA model by getting into spending-wars over production values (and, eventually, run back into the waiting arms of the big publishers). The guys with the money want that, because it means whoever has the deepest pockets, wins. And maybe to a degree that’s unavoidable.

    But the burn rate on a studio of even only six people is pretty high, especially when you’ve got the kind of volatility that we have in this business. Studios always seem to grow to the point where they are only one flop away from disaster.

  • The Old Farmer said,

    Just too much! I try to support as many good indies as I can but I have over 500 games across 5 digital distributors plus ones I have directly from the developer like yourself. I love games but I have to start not grabbing every thing that I think is interesting, its just overload. The price is one factor, but the sheer number of good games produced is staggering and overwhelming too.

    I look at my back log and go into stun lock as to what to play next and just never get too far along and when I do play a game I feel guilty when I don’t finish it even though I am enjoying it a lot just because the next shiny has bumped it off the rail.

    That said I feel for Arcen I have a couple of their games but have never even started them up yet…may be some day. But that doesn’t help his cash flow now much though.

  • lakerz said,

    A bit factor in all this is the incredible amount of high quality FREE games that are being developed and put on web portals for all to enjoy. That and the fact steam seems to introduce 50 new games every day, all 50% off their list price of $5-$10. Not to mention the 10 emails I get per day advertising the newest indie game bundle of 15 games for $3. It is truly overwhelming, and unless you are really a noted developer I do not see how all that many can succeed in this environment. Crazy.

  • MalcolmM said,

    As others have said, the problem is that there are too many high quality, inexpensive games available. To stand out in the crowded market is tough.

    This issue isn’t not unique to games. I think we are spoiled by wealth of choice in many areas. For example, I never use to watch TV because the quality of the shows was mostly very poor. Now there are a lot of high quality TV series, far more than I have time to watch. The audience for a hit TV show today is much smaller than a decade or two ago.