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Forget The Big Names: How Indie Games Are Revolutionizing Gaming With Their Innovation And Diversity

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Diablo IV was released a month ago to massive critical acclaim. We rated it highly on this site, as did many other reviewers. 

But behind all the pomp, ceremony and fanboy-dom sat something interesting: a AAA game with intense indie overtures. Blizzard poured tens of millions of dollars into the latest installment of its hell-themed franchise, but, at heart, it remained much the same game as it always was. The basic interface and dynamics are mostly unchanged from Diablo II, released in 1998, requiring users to do little more than click their way to victory. 

The success of the newest Diablo installment is partially to do with Blizzard’s trademark polish, of course. The game just looks, sounds, and feels great. But it is also down to its indie DNA. By designing the interface as they have, the developers are tapping into a deeper gaming trend that spans the last two decades at least. Players love games that involve a lot of clicking, and Diable IV certainly offers that. 

Because of this, indie games continue to thrive, despite the enormous budgets of AAA titles, thanks to their addictive gameplay and low barriers to entry. Playing one doesn’t require giving up months of your life to the cause. You can dip in and out as you want, and play in your own way. There’s less friction. 

New Browser Games, a site that curates some of the world’s top clicker games, says that the “clicking revolution” is here to stay. Indie games, it reports, are emerging as a genre that transcends traditional gaming boundaries, thanks to their unique play dynamics and simple interfaces. Anyone can start enjoying them, even without any prior gaming experience. 

The beauty of indie games, New Browser Games says, is their accessibility. Users can rock up and start playing without any prior experience and with just a few clicks. The need for hand-eye coordination or expensive equipment is minimal, and games are made with various player types in mind. 

There’s also the aspect of progression that keeps people hooked, New Browser Games says. Progressing through the story lets players upgrade various aspects of their gameplay, be it better weapons, faster travel speeds, or more epic boss fights. With a simple click, the website says, players can increase their excitement levels and keep their motivation flowing. 

Even automation is now playing a significant role, says New Browser Games. The simple click-to-play nature of these titles means that AI can often take over the grunt work, freeing up the player to focus more on the rewarding parts of the experience. 

But why, exactly, are indie games proving so dominant? According to industry insiders, there are multiple reasons.

Creative Freedom

The first (and probably biggest) reason for indie games’ success is the creative freedom of the independent developers who make them. Unlike big-budget studios that must answer to investors and shareholders, smaller players can tinker with models far more and create games that are truly unique. Inevitably, games embody their passion, and developers wind up creating titles that go on to become cult classics. 

Sheer Variety

Next comes the sheer variety of indie games. While AAA titles have to stay within well-defined boundaries and parameters, clicker game developers can explore the full space of possibilities more freely. 

New Browser Games picks up on this idea. The array of indie-style games available to players is far broader, it says, than AAA alternatives. Games can take inspiration from any existing IP, setting, story, or context. It’s all valuable. 

The primary reason for this comes back to the simplicity of the games themselves. Most only require a few thousand lines of code, while conventional blockbuster titles might need millions. Developers can often create games with unique mechanics in batches, releasing them to the public and seeing which become the most popular and marketable. For this reason, no individual title represents a large irrecoverable sunk cost. Studios can make wild decisions on game design and presentation, without worrying about financial blowback. 

Deeper Topic Exploration

Another reason why today’s indie games are dominating AAA titles is their ability to explore meaningful topics. Big developers must be careful to avoid stories that might offend people or cause media uproar, but smaller developers don’t operate under the same concerns. In fact, being controversial might actually be a good thing for many of these firms. 

Popular indie games cover themes to do with culture, social justice, and identity. Many also explore taboo subjects, like politics or mental health. 

It’s this focus that enables them to appeal intensely to niches in the gaming audience. Certain topics resonate with particular gamers more than others, helping titles develop cult followings. 

Better Strategic Elements

Indie games are also dominating AAA titles because of their complex and innovative strategic elements. Many games offer players complex mechanics they can’t find elsewhere. 

New Browser Games makes this point succinctly. While clicker games might appear simple on the surface, it says, many contain hidden depths and richness. Players must make calculated decisions about resource allocations, positioning, and upgrade paths. Complex dynamics mean it’s virtually impossible to plan an optimal route through levels or encounters. Instead, players must rely on their intuition, a bit like Go players, and trust their instincts to help them complete challenges. 

New Methods Of Storytelling

Finally, indie games are taking on the big names by leveraging new storytelling methods. Many have rich lore or innovative ways of communicating a message. 

Some indie games take cues from successful films, telling dual narratives or darting backward and forward in time. Others use artwork and sound to create immersive and memorable experiences. The classic Limbo was a good example of this in practice. It told the story of a lost boy who appeared stuck in a nightmare-like monochrome forest environment, doing battle with giant spiders, trying to find his way back to Mommy. The Walking Dead did something similar, offering players dialogue options that affected the story outcome. 

Ultimately, indie games are flourishing right now. Developers are using them as an outlet to explore the full range of human creativity. 

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