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Indie devs: Quality content trumps following trends, free-to-play ‘is kind of a slum’ | VentureBeat

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“At a place like this, you’re hearing the [conventional wisdom] right now,” said Blow, the indie-darling creator of puzzle-platformer Braid during a panel about the present and future of independently developed games at today’s GamesBeat in San Francisco. “If something seems like a good idea, if that’s the theme of the conference, then that’s not what you do. Because if you do that, you’re playing the odds that your game is the one word game that breaks out from 30 crappy word games.”

With this console generation grinding to a close and buzzwords like “mobile” and “social” gaming flying around thick and fast, Blow and SpyParty developer Chris Hecker in particular stood firm in the need to create high-quality content over following current trends.


Among the platforms the group believes is “getting it right” is Valve’s digital download service, Steam. It received praise for promoting smaller titles and making it easy for indie developers to turn a profit.

“It can be a little harder to get on Steam. But once you’re on there, it’s pretty easy to make $50,000 or $75,000 in a weekend sale, and you do that a couple times a year,” Blow said.


“Free-to-play is kind of a slum,” Blow said. When Hecker agreed that free-to-play “warps game design” by weaving incentives to buy items into the gameplay, Blow added, “It fundamentally shifts your relationship with the player, and it’s very easy for that to become ugly.”

Nevertheless, Blow said that he wants to do a free-to-play game at some point. However, it won’t have premium items like “hats.” He instead envisions a system in which players pay a dollar for a level to explore with a friend. According to Blow, “That’s a respectful way to treat players. Tweet this game to your friends is not a way to treat players.”


Be kind

Super excited for SpyParty!

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