Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 22, 2017

AAA Game Industry looks down at indies (small development studios)

“Look at those indies going onto the Switch,” the AAA Game Industry snarls. “Those aren’t REAL games. Only AAA games are real games. The prize to be won in Console Warz are AAA Games.”

Those terrible, terrible indie games! You mean games like…


Made by one guy. Today, it has its own toy aisle at many retailer stores. Massive hit, and huge hit with children.

Grand Theft Auto

Related image

DMA design which made Lemmings and Uniracers for the SNES almost became a Nintendo second party. This little studio made Grand Theft Auto which did very well. The sequel did much better. And Grand Theft Auto 3 outsold everything and created modern Rockstar.


Jazz Jackrabbit, Jill of the Jungle, and Epic Pinball

Here are small games made by an independent studio called ‘Epic Games’.

Above: Jazz Jackrabbit


Above: Epic Pinball! Love that music.

Epic used to be a shareware company where they made small games you ordered through the mail. It’s true! They used to be as indie as could be.


Wolfenstein 3d

A submachine gun firing at a falling brown-uniformed Nazi, while a second Nazi aims a pistol at the viewer.

Above: Kill the Nazis!

An indie company in Texas makes a game called Wolfenstein 3d which is the predecessor to Doom. id was an indie company.


The Lost Vikings

Silicon and Synapse learned how to make games that could hold their own in the Mario and Sonic era which served them well in later years. Today, this company is Blizzard.



Another indie game was this game called Tetris. I heard it sold pretty well. Back in the day, the ‘big game companies’, or the AAA of the 1980s, made fun of Tetris. The game doesn’t scroll. It doesn’t use brilliant sprite art. It’s not a ‘REAL GAME’.


I can go on and on. The point is that every AAA Game Company today was once an indie game company. The point is that you NEVER KNOW WHERE THE NEXT GREAT GAME WILL COME FROM. The probability of the next revolutionary game coming from AAA gaming is EXTREMELY LOW. AAA gaming is not about taking risks. You’re going to have to embrace the indies.

Sony has been smart enough to take in indies, but they treat them like second class games. “Here is your digital download and that is all you get!” On Switch, the indies are retail games sitting right next to Mario and Zelda.

“Tough competition!” you say.

True, but if they can hold their own, they may very well become the next Blizzard.

When I see the Switch and the PS4 (and the inevitable PS5), I do not see Switch as Nintendo titles plus indies and PS4 as MAGNIFICENT AAA GAMING. I see Switch as New World and PS4 as Old World. The potential for break out hits is more likely on Switch it seems. What great breakout games have there been on PS4 so far? I can’t think of any. Gen 8 has been boring all around.

Nintendo is never as strong as it looks and never as weak as it looks. To the casual observer, Nintendo looks like it is on its death bed. The Switch is its only console after the disasters of the 3DS and Wii U. There are no big AAA games coming to Switch. Nintendo is doomed.

But look again. Nintendo home consoles could compete and even outdo Sony hardware and Microsoft hardware until Generation Seven. Sony and Microsoft, in some bizarre fight over the living room, dumped tons of money to make ridiculously expensive home consoles (US $599!). Part of this was also aimed to lock Nintendo out. Nintendo could not afford to put out such expensive hardware. This is also part of the reason why the PS4 Pro and Scorpio are launching too. It makes it harder for Nintendo to compete.

“Nintendo cannot compete!” cries the reader. “They are doomed!”

But Microsoft and Sony cannot compete against Nintendo in the mobile side. Sony has two failed handheld consoles and has given up. Microsoft doesn’t even bother to try.

What Nintendo is doing with the Switch is forcing Sony to go against mobile despite Sony retreating to its home console shelter. Nintendo doomed? No. I see a long term strategy to checkmate Sony. The trend is movement away from the TV. Nintendo is positioning itself for the future. Sony is not. With growing PC gaming, Sony finds itself stuck between two forces.



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