There’s a big gap between the budgets of indie studios and AAA ones, yet the smaller budget, smaller teams tend to make more intriguing and polished games at a price more reasonable for most people. In this day and age, putting down $60 or more on a new game is like rolling the dice. You’re never sure if it’s going to function like it should and while these problems do exist in the Indie scene, you aren’t putting as much money on the line for those titles.
At this point, I feel unwilling to spend more than $40 at one time on a title and even that is pushing my comfort zone. I’m not a wealthy person and because of that, I tend to buy games when they’re around $10–$20 and that makes me feel far less guilty. However, this isn’t just a money problem. Back in the 90s mostly, competition between companies made them try new and interesting things: pushing the medium to the limits at the time. Now, most AAA companies keep it safe by following a formula with all of their games.
Allow me to elaborate on that. Ubisoft has been making the same game over and over again with slight variation for probably over a decade. Every Far Cry game feels the exact same, with a dictator or crazy antagonist, camps to raid, and towers to climb. I did play Far Cry 5 when it came out, alongside a friend of mine since this was the first time the series delved into co-op. It unfortunately bored me and I never got to the end. For those of you who enjoy this formula, I’m not shaming you for liking it. You just have to admit that they’re not really pushing any boundaries. Neither is Call of Duty.
The series of FPS games has really pushed no limits since the first Modern Warfare title. Every iteration feels the same with the only difference being different guns and animations, and occasionally future technology, such is the case of Infinite Warfare. I don’t think each new entry should be $60 at launch. It’s a ridiculously high price tag for a game you essentially already own if you have any CoD game. Let’s not forget that for a lot of AAA games, $60 is for the base game only at this point, with a lot of content put behind paywalls.
For less money, you can generally get a complete experience with Indie games, much like Hollow Knight. For $15, you get a full experience and they don’t ask you to put a bunch of money into cosmetics. The definitive edition of Shovel Knight is $40, which gives you every bit of content they made and once again, they’re not asking you for more money once the game starts up. I think the Indie mindset is that of the 90s struggle for games to innovate. So many Indie titles try new things, even if they have a base game rooted in older titles.
To sum up my point, I believe that Indie games outclass AAA games in cost, innovation, and polish. No big budget studio should be doing what they are and I think until they stop exploiting people, maybe we should stop lining their pockets and instead support a small studio.