Indie developer’s have a specific group of genres that are there’s and there’s alone. It’s a group of genres that could be easier to produce, only market to a niche group of players, or just not make enough money for AAA developers to spend their time on. Whatever the reason is, this list of 5 genres will forever be reserved for indie developers.
Platformers used to be the most popular genre of all. Think of all the old titles that were best sellers in their day: Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Mega Man… the list goes on and on. Jump to the last couple of years and the big companies that used to be known for their platforming goodness haven’t made a good oldschool 2-D platformer in ages. What are the best selling platformers of this age? Braid, Super Meat Boy, Limbo, Fez, and a whole long list of indie developer’s games. There’s still a large group of people that want to play innovative 2-D platformers, but the big companies can’t sell these games for their coveted $60 pricetag. So this once most popular genre has been gifted to the indie developers.
Puzzle games are another genre that big AAA developers can’t make enough money on. When consumers are spending $60 on a a new game they need more than just puzzles. In the world of AAA titles puzzle games have become mini-games and side quests that contribute to the overall experience, like hacking a terminal in BioShock and solving puzzle doors in Skyrim. Puzzle games have become an indie genre because if you’ve got a new fresh puzzle game idea you can make a lot of money as an individual or a small team, but the big companies can’t.
Old School RPGs
This niche market is quickly seeing a comeback. Whether it’s the turn based tile dungeon crawler or a new indie game with the old JRPG feel, older gamers want the kinds of games that got them into gaming in the first place. Look at your favorite indie game supplier and you’ll see in the last year there’s a whole list of great games coming out that bring a new story and mechanics to this sacred genre. Nowadays the only way for big companies to make money on RPGs is to make the graphics great, the mechanics intricate, and have a team of 100s working hard day and night to make a state of the art game. This is one genre that might not live on forever, but as long as it does it’ll be in indie developer territory.
This is a relatively new genre that’s popped up with the help of a couple big indie releases. The exploration genre is made up of games that focus on experiencing the art of the game as opposed to beating levels, gaining points, or winning matches. Games like Journey, Proteus, and even Minecraft have paved the way for other indie developers to create beautiful worlds that gamers just want to be a part of. If indie producers continue to come out with this level of adventure in their games than this genre will grow and grow. And this genre started by indie developers, will stay with indie developers.
Flash games and casual games have become an indie developers dream. They’re games, like other’s on this list, that are easier to produce, but don’t sell for much money. There are some big companies that continue to produce games in the casual market, but everyday there are less and less coming out. Why? Because individuals and small teams of indie producers are coming out with more creative ideas, and can be a little more risky with their gameplay. It’s hard to pay someone lots of money to make a game you’re only selling for a dollar. Casual games will always have some big name companies producing titles, but overall it’s become an indie producer’s marketplace.