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Technology will destroy the indie games industry

People like to praise indie gaming and how much easier it is to produce games than before. At first I though this was cool, and as somebody who likes creating video game content and even has hopes of becoming an actual indie dev this made me exited.

But the more and more I think about it, I can’t help but feel that there are going to be massive downsides to the indie gaming revolution. It’s exactly because making games is becoming so cheap that more and more people are able to make games, and not just crap games but actually good ones. The laws of supply and demand state that as the amount of something increases vs the demand for it prices go down. And I fear that exactly this will happen in the future.

“But wait! Games aren’t cheap to make! The big companies spend hundreds of millions on development!” you will probably say. Yes, but here’s the thing:

  1. A huge portion of that cost goes into marketing and not development.

  2. As technology becomes more advanced more and more things become possible to do easier than before. Already we have programs like substance designer that makes it possible to easily create high quality textures with only minimal art talent, where as in the past this wasn’t the case. In the future the same thing will happen to other aspects of development which will massively lower the time, cost and talent needed to create content. And I mean actually GOOD content, mind you. You can trick yourself into thinking that large amounts of talent will always be needed and that good artists will never stop being needed, but this is just wishful thinking. Technology will at some point lower the skill ceiling to a low enough of a level that you will no longer need to be a pro to create decent or even good content.

You can debate how long it will take, but at some point the costs of game development will become so low that the only companies that have a chance of standing out will be the ones with the huge marketing budgets. There will exist such a huge oversupply that the price of games will plummet to sub-5$ and it will become almost impossible for anybody to make any real money of their game at all unless they have a huge marketing budget. Video games in other words, will become like beer: Cheap to produce and sell, but profitable if marketed well and sold in huge amounts.

This is the future of the games industry. 99.9% of indie devs are screwed.

RIP for profit indie development.

Yea I know this sounds very pessimistic but this simply sounds like the most likely outcome. Not that this will stop me from making content or anything, but I think any wannabe indie dev might consider having a plan B if his dreams don’t come true :frowning:

In a future where it’s easier to make games, it will lead to bigger, more interesting, and more unique games that fill more niches.

Indie games have, and continue to revive genres AAA developers have let die.

Same thing happened to music.

This is what will happen initially, but the market can only have some many developers. Take for example old school retro-shooters. Dusk recently became successful, and because of this I assure you 100% that we are going to see a lot of Doom/Quake clones in the future, and most of them will flop because there isn’t any room in the market for dozens of such games being released every month.

We will start seeing THOUSANDS of games being released, in every genre and sub-genre, on a monthly bases. Even now this has already happened for some genres of games such as 2D platformers. 3D games haven’t been harmed as much because of the extra skills required to make them, but once technology has made it easier to produce content we will get to that point as well.

I don’t think so, and I can give you a few points to think about to ease your worries :).

First yes I agree Saturation is the result of the availability of the technology but 80% of these games are pure rubbish, the 2% are lucky strikes and the others are actually good games (from indies i mean). I wont count Mobile as I don’t consider that as ‘games market’ its more of a slot machine platform for billionaire companies aimed at casual consumers who could care less if they are playing a game for 2 mins on a bus, 99% of it at least.

Now should you worry about games becoming ‘easier’ to make to a level where everyone can make a game and put it online? Well it’s been happening for the past 5 years now at least and that hasn’t changed much the fact that you still need lots lots of money and lots of talent to get a good game out the door or have a slim chance of success. At the end of the day you still need to hire talent which is more difficult to find than you think by the way even these days.

Substance painter hasn’t changed anything either in fact substance painter doesn’t do art at all, it does procedural cavity finds and normal map bakes from which you use it as a mask to fill it up with edge enhancements, that is it. It heavily depends on your base mesh and model’s quality that you have imported which would take talent and experience to build in a competitive sense. Second the way you paint textures is still present just like before, Substance painter does not paint for you and i’ve seen so much crap work come out of it, no magic button anywhere.

Did photogrammetry the idea that you can just take a few snapshots and create a 3d model cancel out the modeler’s jobs? of course not.

Let’s not go too far and lets look at the VFX industry. You know that almost all the tools that Hollywood uses to make transformers has been available to the average consumer in very affordable price tags for the past 10 years now? did that make movies less costly or less challenging to make with less talent? Are we seeing transformers pop out of every household in silicon valley or india? If anything movies now cost more than ever before and hire more than ever before and can barely meet deadlines. That’s also due to politics and management.

Same in TV industry, Tons of people use Vray and Fumefx and Maya or Max. It doesn’t mean these guys can create equal outcomes of quality with similar timelines. Jobs are still constant to experienced people. Yes recently having students work for cheap because they graduated with a maya or Max background and hired as intern slaves does hiccup the industry and has been for a while but that never got the movies done, companies always bring in the experienced individuals to finish the job.

I do agree though and do detest the fact that the industry now has become more saturated with sub standard products that take shelf spaces and that hinders the process for sure and it’s unfair. But that’s the counter result of capitalism and free market, there must be some regulations on standards and they are not being forced yet or considered. It is out of our hands at the moment.

2c: Its already a car crash! :stuck_out_tongue: … In general your point isn’t limited to game dev either, its everything! Right now there are Superstars-of-Capitalism, and then there’s everyone else. I subscribe to the notion that the current generation is struggling versus their parents. For example, I only know one or two Indies making decent money from games atm, out of a core group of 20 maybe.

But to say that means its game-over isn’t quite accurate either. Niche games targeted at the right markets are still selling (right-game right-dev right-time etc). Plus, a few clones have managed to do surprising well, despite being copycats. But as marketing has become more crucial, finding / creating partnerships / working with publishers is key.

VR/AR will eventually bring new opportunities because of new applications that haven’t even been imagined yet. But how far away are both from mainstream adoption? Who knows. Tim Sweeney thinks ~12 years. Meantime, ArchViz seems to be doing well, and consulting (building simulators for work etc) is in demand too.

Kickstarter / IndieGoGo is a boulevard of broken dreams. But for those with past form / Brand value, its still possible. Overall, its complicated… There’s no doubt though, that FOSS (Blender/Gimp) + Unreal, means zero upfront costs for anyone with hardware who wants to compete on the global stage. Say hello to ~4 billion devs from India, China, Latin America and SE Asia etc. :stuck_out_tongue:

That said, crypto is driving up GPU costs atm which sucks. A big challenge always is deciding if you’re passionate enough to stick with building the games you love, versus following the herd and market trends, or betting on something that’s proven. Whatever makes you happy… That’s a big part of everything too…

The larger trend here is that tech in general has crashed and burned for many workers, while catastrophic problems such as Malware / Security has only become more horrific. Cloud / Outsourcing is creating new problems too, which will eventually offset short-term cost savings. Then there’s AI. I don’t buy into the hype that AI will create compelling games anytime soon. But Automation is definitely coming for jobs, its a question of which and when. My guess is ~2030 will be a watershed moment (based on reports by industry insiders: Example).

2c: Its already a car crash! :stuck_out_tongue: … In general your point isn’t limited to game dev either, its everything! Right now there are Superstars-of-Capitalism, and then there’s everyone else. I subscribe to the notion that the current generation is struggling versus their parents. For example, I only know one or two Indies making decent money from games atm, out of a core group of 20 maybe.

But to say that means its game-over isn’t quite accurate either. Niche games targeted at the right markets are still selling (right-game / right-dev / right-time etc). Plus, a few clones have managed to do surprising well, despite being copycats. But as marketing has become more crucial, finding / creating partnerships / working with publishers is key.

VR/AR will eventually bring new opportunities because of new applications that haven’t even been imagined yet. But how far away are both from mainstream adoption? Who knows. Tim Sweeney thinks ~12 years. Meantime, ArchViz seems to be doing well, and consulting (building simulators for work etc) is in demand too.

Kickstarter / IndieGoGo is a boulevard of broken dreams. But for those with past form / Brand value, its still possible. Overall, its complicated… There’s no doubt though, that FOSS (Blender/Gimp) + Unreal, means zero upfront costs for anyone with hardware who wants to compete on the global stage. Say hello to ~4 billion devs from India, China, Latin America and SE Asia etc. :stuck_out_tongue:

That said, crypto is driving up GPU costs atm which sucks. A big challenge always is deciding if you’re passionate enough to stick with building games you love, versus following the herd and market trends and betting on something that’s already proven. Whatever makes you happy, that’s a big part of everything too…

The larger trend here is that tech in general has crashed and burned for many workers, while catastrophic problems such as Malware / Security has become more horrific. Cloud / Outsourcing is creating new problems too, which will eventually offset short-term cost savings. Then there’s AI. I don’t buy into the hype that AI will create compelling games anytime soon. But Automation is definitely coming for jobs, its a question of which and when. My guess is ~2030 will be a watershed moment (based on reports by industry insiders: Example).

2c: Its already a car crash! :stuck_out_tongue: … In general your point isn’t limited to game dev either, its everything! Right now there are Superstars-of-Capitalism, and then there’s everyone else. I subscribe to the notion that the current generation is struggling versus their parents. For example, I only know one or two Indies making decent money from games atm, out of a core group of 20 maybe.

But to say that means its game-over isn’t quite accurate either. Niche games targeted at the right markets are still selling (right-game / right-dev / right-time etc). Plus, a few clones have managed to do surprising well, despite being copycats. But as marketing has become more crucial, finding / creating partnerships / working with publishers is key.

VR/AR will eventually bring new opportunities because of new applications that haven’t even been imagined yet. But how far away are both from mainstream adoption? Who knows. Tim Sweeney thinks ~12 years. Meantime, ArchViz seems to be doing well, and consulting (building simulators for work etc) is in demand too.

Kickstarter / IndieGoGo is a boulevard of broken dreams. But for those with past form / Brand value, its still possible. Overall, its complicated… There’s no doubt though, that FOSS (Blender/Gimp) + Unreal, means zero upfront costs for anyone with hardware who wants to compete on the global stage. Say hello to ~4 billion devs from India, China, Latin America and SE Asia etc. :stuck_out_tongue:

That said, crypto is driving up GPU costs atm which sucks. A big challenge always is deciding if you’re passionate enough to stick with building games you love, versus following the herd and market trends and betting on something that’s already proven. Whatever makes you happy, that’s a big part of everything too…

The larger trend here is that tech in general has crashed and burned for many workers, while catastrophic problems such as Malware / Security has become more horrific. Cloud / Outsourcing is creating new problems too, which will eventually offset short-term cost savings. Then there’s AI. I don’t buy into the hype that AI will create compelling games anytime soon. But Automation is definitely coming for jobs, its a question of which and when. My guess is ~2030 will be a watershed moment (based on reports by industry insiders: Example).

I… think you are a little bit late.
Like, 10 ~ 12 years late… From 2006 to 2008 is where things began to change, nowadays it’s just more of the same process.
Oh god, I feel like an old man talking about this sht lmao (but I was just a teen so I’m not old -_-");
My first indie game I made solo for iOS sold 16K units back then, was an interesting time…
XNA was hot tech, C# to me was too hard language to learn, etc…

Today, indie games have almost no value to the target public, since a while ago.
In 2008~2009 when I felt the flood coming, I ran to the hills and searched for a new 9to5 job again xD

This is because a lot of those “games” aren’t even really games. I don’t count asset flips as games. Remove the asset flips and a large portion of the “games” currently released would vanish. Actual real game development still requires a considerable amount of time. When I said the market would be flooded with games in the OP I meant games that are actually decent and not ****. Sure there will still be bad games made, but the sheer number of new developers will insure that even if only 10-20% of the games released are good that there will still be oversaturation of good games. Basically what will happen is that good indie games that are charging 15-20 dollars right now will start costing about as much as mobile games, or that is somewhere between 1-5 dollars. This will mean that only a small number (an even smaller number than today) of developers will be successful. The success rate among indies will be sub 5%. Or even sub-1%. The days where reasonably talented indies could expect to at least break even will be long gone by then.

People actually overestimate how difficult it is to find talent. The supply of talented artists vs demand for them is massively biased in favor of the demand. It just so happens that most don’t have the technical skills to use complex 3D apps. But even this is now changing as people are spending more time learning complex programs. And in the future somebody will find a way to streamline/casualize the art creation process to make it more accessible. Programmers are harder to find, but many myself included believe that game programmers will become obsolete at some point anyway. Already it’s possible to use node based visual scripting to create a lot of game logic in both Unity as well as Unreal. It still isn’t as powerful as normal coding, but it seems like only a matter of time until it becomes possible to use systems like this to create entire games with few or no limitations.

I said substance designer, not painter. Painter is for painting models, designer is for creating textures and materials. And yes, you do need to learn how to use those programs but it’s still considerably easier than say learning how to create good textures in photoshop.

The difference is games are a digital good which means that supply and material costs are never an issue safe for the money spent on your computer hardware and software. You only need 1 dev with 1 game and then that game can be played by everybody on earth who has a computer or a console. Once tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people start making their own games do you really think there will be room for even 5% of them? It costs money and time to make a product and then find/get shelf space for it. It costs nothing to put a digital good on steam.

For now. But once enough devs start making games there will be no niches left. Every genre and sub-genre will have hundreds of times more games than you have time for.

There is a lot of negativity around.
This is the third thread started over the last couple of days on the negative effects of technological advancements over game dev and 3d modelling.

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”

The future is uncertain, so: no worries, stay on the path, but always have a backup plan.

Agree with you OP. Marketplace + Blueprint tutorials is giving everyone the framework they need to make any type of game. In case you didn’t realize, the amount of modular blueprints 1 project has is still limited intentionally, to not make this too powerful, yet. But time will fix that…I mean, it still takes a little work now, but in another year or 2, its gonna be too easy to make a game, code wise. The clock is ticking. I was hoping to make some money from my game before this happened, oh well.

Even as someone who’s more of a 3d artist I feel like I missed out, releasing a project just after games lose their value and the “great saturation” (cough steam direct) happens. So what now? Whoever has the greatest visuals & unique ideas will still prevail? Maybe. We might have a few years left, but at this rate, I think we should start another thread, Titled: What are some good 9-5 jobs that a creative indie game dev can do?

There won’t be any. Those will be automated also :frowning:

Best case scenario is that some type of minimum income is created that people live off once this happens, in which case you could create more games. But then again said minimum income would probably be too crap to fund all the needed hardware upgrades and software subscriptions. God damn it the future is looking so utterly shit :confused:

I believe that no matter how many pre-made blueprints you throw out there, the devs still need to come together and spend a good amount of time to make any half decent game. If they spend 1 month its not a game that’s competitive, it will be a very very simple thing I don’t care what anyone says, maybe it will be like angry birds and will make millions but unlikely, two months same, three same. As soon as you up your game and go into polish work, visuals, unique characters, animation. that’s at least a year and a half of work at least with a small very experienced team if you are lucky and if you are serious and want to make a game with future profit in mind or competitiveness. (At the very worst your game fails and you still have something to show to get hired somewhere or get contract work). There is always a minimum time frame here and regarding artwork they’ve been trying so hard to make the basics automated and haven’t really achieved that for 15 years now. Coding has gotten slightly more accessible but try doing anything unique in mechanics (which you should to again if you want to stay competitive) then there you have it you need programming skills beyond your average blueprints to achieve that.

Also with art, animation, assets, there is no escaping, no amount of technology will make that work move any faster when you are aiming to meet a standard. Hell they haven’t even solved the unwrapping problem yet! they’ve been trying that since the 90’s and to this day no software can automate that for you, none, you have to manually unwrap every single thing on your hero assets and arrange the UV’s!

Now ask yourself who can afford to work one year and a half full time on a game with all those elements at the minimum. Most of these games that are around are made in couple of hours, days or weeks. These make it into steams rubbish shelves and put a needle up everyone’s asses, just because they can.

Again the issue is not Technology but regulation in the marketplace. Let there be 20% of good saturation than 90% of bad saturation.

And the more the big companies fuk up with micro transactions, multiplayer only, and loot boxes. the happier Indies get because there will be a flood of consumers looking for something only indie’s would be providing that is other than the slot machines of the big companies.

But yes life is harder for video games today but they have always been hard. Shit man life is hard everywhere, we are just moving faster than our parents because we have something called the goddam internet which multiplies time by a factor of 10.

Games are no different than any other industry. Tech will continue to make it easier and cheaper.

For that matter, robots and automation will continue to take over all the mundane tasks in all industries.
Soon the bots will be doing most of the work - from Farming to Trucking To Food Service.
It is inevitable.

Although perhaps the entertainment sector will continue to boom and be done by humans since it requires creativity.
Things like movies, books, games…
Creating art (including games) will be the last sector to fall to ai and automation.

People will have more free time and spend it on entertainment.

So seize the day and use the tech to make a better game. Or to make and sell tech to make games.

It is the BEST time to make games. (Anybody remember 6502 assembly language? Sheesh making even crappy games was hard back then.)
It is far easier now, The tech is far better.
You can do far more with less people.

Be creative - let the technology enable you to focus on what makes the game fun.

If you want to worry about something, worry about this, THIS has bigger chances of doing harm than technology and it already has started:

OP: It’s only natural, but yes, games will eventually drop down to the cellphone level of game pricing. The saturation is only getting worse. This happens in a lot of other markets too and it’s just a natural part of the way the world works.

Think about this for a second: Picture if the Mona Lisa had been painted today, do you think the majority of people would give a rat’s ass about it? No. It would just be another drop in the sea of art. Leonardo da Vinci would have just been another one of those artists on Deviantart that you look at a few pictures from and think “Nice…” and click to something else. Back in it’s day, painting was expensive and most people had very limited access to the supplies for it. Of course people like da Vinci stood out because there was little to no competition and arts/entertainment weren’t in the abundance that they are today. This is where your supply and demand come into play.

The movie industry is having the same problem but in a different way. You’re now seeing mainstream movies with 300m USD budgets that pretty much have to have that high of a budget just so they can make any decent amount of money back. If they don’t throw all that money toward the special effects, then it get’s scoffed at and people don’t bother seeing it in theaters and/or just pirate it. Yeah yeah, I know there are outliers, but in general…

The whole youtube/twitch/etc streamer bubble where “YOU’RE A STAR, YOU’RE A STAR, EVERYONE’S A STAR NOW!” It’s gotten to such a ridiculous point now that you have people doing some of the most ludicrous crap just to try to one-up on each other and make their little droplet in the ocean stand out.

The music industry went through this as well and I could go on and on about different industries that have been saturated to death, but I think you get the point. It was only a matter of time before it hit the game industry. This isn’t some safe-haven industry that’s impune to the issues that arise from saturation. Thankfully, I think we still have maybe another 10-15 good years tops before the majority of game development is handled algorithmically. I know we have a lot of automation tools on the rise, like Houdini, but it’s only going to get worse when you start throwing AI into the mix. People will want their games to sell, which will make them start to undercut each other until it hits a rock bottom average price.

After reading some positive motivating replies here and thinking more about it, I think we are worrying a little too soon. We still have a few years left before this is a huge problem. Luckily, making high quality 3d art and visuals is still going to hold value longer than code. What we are dreading is when “blender youtube kids” no longer need to have extensive knowledge to put blueprint projects together, and a single project will provide everything out of the box. I’m hoping that is a longer ways out…

Even after that, the artists will still have value, just need to work harder to make up for it, which is still fine. Perhaps this will just push greater visuals and more complex mechanics, as coding gets easier. Just know there is an awakening happening, we know whats coming, we just have to work faster and come online before any of this happens

lmao sjws are becoming more unpopular with every day that passes I don’t think they are a long term threat to the game’s industry. This is just a phase/fad that will end at some point. But technology is here to stay.

I am a fan and reader of a variety of comics… unfortunately they are doing the same sh** there, not attacking just games but entertainment in general, and now there’s just a few comics I read. None from Marvel/DC anymore.

They are becoming more unpopular, and yet they are getting stronger by the day. Why? Because people don’t stand. Even those who stand, apologize immediately afterwards. They are too afraid to lose what they have. Employers and companies don’t want to handle the heat of a few dozens people on twitter and facebook.

Yes, it’s a phase and it may end soon, but the industry can easily be disfigured long before that, like Marvel comics.

Remember the Indie Games: The Movie (2012)? Now compare it to Game Loading: Rise of the Indies (2015). JamFaze provides a really cool comment of it on YT.
This is what happened in just a few years. Now imagine the future.

But again, this is just my opinion and maybe I’m just too old.