Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

What defines a game as ‘not indie’? This is a question that has been asked by many in the gaming industry. The term ‘indie game’ has become increasingly popular in recent years, with a rise in the number of independent developers creating innovative and unique games. However, what exactly makes a game ‘not indie’? Is it the size of the development team, the budget, or the level of marketing support? In this article, we will explore the factors that can define a game as ‘not indie’, and how these factors can impact the way that gamers perceive and engage with the game. Whether you are a developer, a gamer, or simply interested in the world of video games, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the complex world of game development.

Quick Answer:
A game can be considered “not indie” if it is developed by a large corporation or publisher, has a large budget, and is marketed towards a mainstream audience. Indie games, on the other hand, are typically developed by smaller teams or individuals with a more limited budget and are often focused on niche or experimental gameplay. The distinction between indie and non-indie games is not always clear-cut, as some games with larger budgets and corporate backing may still have an indie spirit or feel. Ultimately, the defining characteristic of an indie game is its independence from the traditional game development process and its focus on creative experimentation and innovation.

Factors That Make a Game Not Indie


The funding a game receives is a key factor in determining whether it can be classified as “indie.” A game that is developed and published by a large company, or one that receives significant financial backing from a publisher, is likely to be considered “not indie.” Access to resources for marketing and distribution is also a crucial factor, as indie games often struggle to get their products in front of the right audience. A game that has the backing of a major publisher, or that is able to secure significant marketing and distribution deals, is likely to be seen as less “indie” than one that does not have these resources.

Development Team Size

The size of the development team is a significant factor in determining whether a game is considered indie or not. Generally, indie games are developed by small teams of individuals, often with limited resources, while larger development teams are associated with more substantial production values and higher budgets.

One key indicator of a game’s size is the number of employees involved in its development. Larger development teams can have dozens or even hundreds of employees working on various aspects of the game, such as programming, art, sound design, and testing. In contrast, indie games typically have much smaller teams, with only a handful of people working on the project.

Another factor that contributes to the size of a development team is collaboration with other studios or companies. Large development teams often collaborate with other studios to share resources and expertise, while indie developers may work alone or with a small group of trusted collaborators. This collaboration can also lead to the involvement of external funding sources, which can further distinguish a game as not indie.

In summary, the size of the development team is a critical factor in determining whether a game is considered indie or not. While indie games are typically developed by small teams with limited resources, larger development teams with dozens or even hundreds of employees, as well as collaboration with other studios or companies, are often associated with larger production values and higher budgets.

Market Reach

  • Focus on mainstream audiences: A game that targets a broad audience, rather than a niche or specialized group, is likely to be considered more commercial and less indie. This often involves designing the game to appeal to a wide range of players, rather than catering to a specific subculture or interest group.
  • Partnerships with large corporations for promotions: Games that are backed by large corporations or have partnerships with major brands are more likely to be considered less indie. This can include marketing and distribution deals with major publishers, as well as licensing agreements with popular franchises or intellectual property. These partnerships often provide greater resources and reach, but can also limit the creative freedom of the development team.

In addition to these factors, a game’s market reach can also be influenced by its availability on different platforms, its pricing strategy, and its distribution channels. A game that is available on multiple platforms, such as console, PC, and mobile, is more likely to reach a wider audience and may be considered less indie. Similarly, a game that is priced at a lower level or offered for free may be more accessible to a broader audience, but may also be seen as less financially viable for an indie developer.

Intellectual Property Ownership

The ownership of intellectual property (IP) is a key factor in determining whether a game can be classified as indie or not. When a game is developed by a small team or individual, it is typically considered indie. However, if the game is owned by a larger corporation or publisher, it is likely not to be classified as indie.

Additionally, licensing agreements with popular franchises can also affect a game’s classification as indie. If a game is based on a well-known franchise, such as a movie or television show, it is less likely to be considered indie. This is because the IP ownership of the franchise is typically held by a larger corporation or publisher, and the indie developer may only have a licensing agreement to use the IP in their game.

It is important to note that IP ownership is not the only factor in determining whether a game is indie or not. Other factors, such as funding, distribution, and marketing, can also play a role in classifying a game as indie or not.

Production Value

In the gaming industry, production value refers to the overall quality of a game’s visual and auditory presentation, as well as the technological capabilities it employs to deliver its gameplay mechanics. When discussing what defines a game as “not indie,” production value is a crucial factor to consider.

  • High-quality graphics and sound design: The visual and auditory aspects of a game play a significant role in immersing players in the game world. High-quality graphics and sound design contribute to a more polished and professional presentation. This level of quality is often associated with larger development teams and larger budgets, characteristics that are less common in the indie game development scene.
  • Access to advanced technology for gameplay mechanics: Indie games often have limited resources and may not have access to the latest technology for gameplay mechanics. In contrast, larger game development studios have the resources to invest in cutting-edge technology, allowing them to create more complex and sophisticated gameplay experiences. This factor also contributes to the perception of a game being less “indie” and more “mainstream.”

It is important to note that while these factors can contribute to a game being considered less “indie,” they do not necessarily define a game as such. The gaming industry is constantly evolving, and indie game developers are increasingly able to access advanced technology and create high-quality games that challenge the notion of what it means to be “indie.”

Audience Expectations

  • Meeting expectations of a wider audience
  • Following established trends and genres

Games that are not indie are often those that cater to a wider audience, as they are designed to appeal to a broader range of players. This can mean that these games often have to meet certain expectations that are associated with a larger market. For example, a game that is designed to be a AAA title will have to meet the expectations of a larger audience, which can include players who are looking for a more polished and refined experience.

Furthermore, games that are not indie often follow established trends and genres. This means that they may be designed to fit into a particular category or style of game, such as a first-person shooter or a role-playing game. These games are often developed by larger studios that have experience in creating games within these genres, and they are designed to appeal to players who are looking for a particular type of gaming experience.

Overall, games that are not indie are often those that are designed to appeal to a wider audience, and they may follow established trends and genres in order to meet the expectations of this audience. While indie games may be more experimental and unconventional, games that are not indie are often designed to be more accessible and appealing to a broader range of players.

The Indie Game Movement

Key takeaway: The classification of a game as “indie” or not is influenced by several factors, including funding, development team size, market reach, intellectual property ownership, and production value. Indie games are typically developed by small teams with limited resources, while larger development teams and partnerships with major corporations or franchises can lead to a game being considered less “indie.” The indie game movement has been growing in popularity, with increasing recognition and support from the gaming community.

Origins of Indie Games

Indie games have been around since the early days of video game development. The term “indie” itself was originally used to describe independent filmmakers, but it was later adopted by the video game industry to describe small, independent game developers who created games outside of the traditional publishing channels.

Early indie game developers were often hobbyists or enthusiasts who created games in their spare time, using whatever resources they had available. One of the earliest examples of an indie game was “Spacewar!”, a simple but influential game created by a group of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962.

As technology advanced, it became easier for indie game developers to create and distribute their games. The rise of personal computers in the 1980s and 1990s provided a new platform for indie game development, and many small studios sprang up to take advantage of this new medium.

One of the most successful early indie games was “Wolfenstein 3D”, a first-person shooter created by id Software in 1992. The game was a critical and commercial success, and it helped to establish the popularity of the first-person shooter genre.

Overall, the origins of indie games can be traced back to the early days of video game development, when small teams of developers were able to create innovative and influential games using limited resources. The success of these early indie games helped to pave the way for the modern indie game movement, which continues to thrive today.

The Indie Game Culture

Indie Game Events and Conventions

Indie game events and conventions are a significant aspect of the indie game culture. These events provide a platform for indie game developers to showcase their games, network with other developers, and gain exposure to potential investors and publishers. Some of the most notable indie game events and conventions include the Independent Games Festival (IGF), Game Developers Conference (GDC), and PAX (Penny Arcade Expo).

Support from the Gaming Community

The indie game culture also thrives on the support from the gaming community. This support comes in many forms, including crowdfunding, social media promotion, and word-of-mouth marketing. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become popular among indie game developers as a way to secure funding for their projects. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit also play a significant role in promoting indie games and providing a community for indie game developers to connect and share their work.

Additionally, many established game developers and publishers have started to take notice of the indie game movement and have begun to support it through various initiatives. For example, some major game developers have created incubators and accelerators to help indie game developers bring their games to market. These initiatives have helped to further legitimize the indie game movement and have provided a valuable source of support for indie game developers.

Challenges for Indie Games

  • Limited resources for development and marketing: Indie game developers often lack the financial resources to invest in the development and marketing of their games. This can make it difficult for them to compete with larger companies that have more resources at their disposal.
  • Difficulty in breaking into the mainstream gaming industry: The mainstream gaming industry is dominated by a few large companies, making it challenging for indie game developers to break into the market and gain recognition. This can be particularly difficult for developers who are just starting out and do not have an established reputation in the industry.
  • Competition from larger companies: Larger companies with more resources and experience can often produce games that are more polished and sophisticated than those produced by indie developers. This can make it difficult for indie games to stand out in a crowded market and attract players.
  • Lack of distribution channels: Indie game developers may also struggle to find distribution channels for their games, making it difficult for them to reach a wide audience. This can be particularly challenging for developers who are trying to release their games on popular platforms like consoles or mobile devices.
  • Pressure to conform to industry standards: The mainstream gaming industry often sets certain standards for what games should look and play like, and indie developers may feel pressure to conform to these standards in order to be successful. This can be challenging for developers who want to create games that are unique and innovative, but may not fit into established genres or formats.

The Future of Indie Games

Growth of the Indie Game Market

  • Increasing Popularity of Indie Games
    • The rise of indie game developers creating unique and innovative games
    • The increasing number of players looking for alternative experiences beyond traditional AAA titles
    • The growth of social media and online communities fostering the discovery and promotion of indie games
  • The Rise of Indie Game Platforms and Distribution Channels
    • The emergence of digital distribution platforms like Steam, GOG, and Epic Games Store providing opportunities for indie developers to reach a wider audience
    • The rise of mobile gaming and the increasing number of indie games available on app stores like Apple App Store and Google Play
    • The growth of indie game conventions and events like PAX, GDC, and IndieCade, providing showcases for indie games and fostering industry connections

Emerging Trends in Indie Games

Experimental Gameplay Mechanics

In recent years, indie games have been pushing the boundaries of traditional gameplay mechanics, experimenting with new and innovative ways to engage players. One example of this is the rise of “walking simulators,” which focus on exploration and atmosphere rather than traditional gameplay elements like combat or puzzles. Another example is the increasing use of procedural generation, which creates unique and dynamic gameplay experiences that can be tailored to each player’s preferences.

Focus on Diverse and Underrepresented Voices in Gaming

Indie games have also been leading the way in representing diverse voices and perspectives in the gaming industry. Many indie developers are creating games that focus on underrepresented communities and experiences, such as games about people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and women in gaming. These games are often created by developers who are members of these communities themselves, and they bring a level of authenticity and empathy that is often lacking in mainstream gaming.

Furthermore, indie games are also providing a platform for marginalized voices to be heard, allowing for more diverse and inclusive narratives to be told in the gaming world. This is helping to push the industry towards a more equitable and representative future, where everyone can see themselves reflected in the games they play.

The Importance of Indie Games

Indie games have become increasingly important in the gaming industry in recent years. They play a crucial role in promoting creativity and innovation, as well as providing opportunities for small development teams and individual creators.

One of the main reasons why indie games are important is that they allow for a wide range of unique and creative ideas to be explored. Because indie developers are not constrained by the same resources and budgets as larger companies, they are able to take more risks and experiment with new gameplay mechanics, storytelling techniques, and art styles. This leads to a diverse and vibrant ecosystem of games that would not exist otherwise.

In addition to promoting creativity, indie games also provide opportunities for small development teams and individual creators to showcase their work and gain recognition in the industry. Many successful indie games have been made by teams of just a few people, demonstrating that it is possible to create high-quality games without the need for a large corporation behind you. This can be especially important for developers who are just starting out and do not have the resources to compete with larger companies.

Furthermore, indie games often have a strong sense of community and connection to their players. Because indie developers are often passionate about their games and have a close relationship with their fans, they are more likely to listen to feedback and make changes based on player feedback. This can lead to games that are more responsive to player needs and preferences, and that build a stronger connection between players and developers.

Overall, the importance of indie games in the gaming industry cannot be overstated. They promote creativity and innovation, provide opportunities for small development teams and individual creators, and build strong connections between players and developers. As the gaming industry continues to evolve, it is important to support and encourage the growth of indie games.


1. What is an indie game?

An indie game is a video game that is developed and published by individuals or small teams without the support of a large publisher. Indie games are often characterized by their unique and innovative gameplay, art style, and storytelling.

2. What makes a game not indie?

A game can be considered not indie if it is developed and published by a large company or publisher. Games developed by large studios with extensive resources and funding are typically not considered indie games. Additionally, games that have a massive budget, widespread marketing, and distribution are also likely to be considered not indie.

3. What are some characteristics of games that are not indie?

Games that are not indie are often polished, highly produced, and have a high level of production value. They may have large marketing budgets, widespread distribution, and be available on multiple platforms. These games often have large development teams and are developed with the goal of appealing to a broad audience.

4. Are games that are not indie less authentic or less valuable?

No, games that are not indie are not necessarily less authentic or less valuable. The value of a game is subjective and depends on personal preferences and opinions. Indie games are often celebrated for their creativity, innovation, and unique perspective, but this does not mean that games developed by larger companies are without merit.

5. Can a game be both indie and not indie?

It is possible for a game to be both indie and not indie depending on the context. For example, a game developed by a small team may be considered indie until it is acquired by a larger publisher and becomes a commercial success. At this point, the game may be considered not indie. Similarly, a game developed by a large studio with a small team may be considered indie due to the team’s independence, but may be considered not indie due to the studio’s size and resources.

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