Anyone who follows video games to any degree has probably noticed that independent games - titles developed without the aid or input of a publisher - have taken off like wildfire. It's not hard to see why - there's a heavy, crippling ennui settling over mainstream, AAA gaming; a heavy and oppressive wave of war shooters and manly men and brown hues and bloom. While the odd creative or narrative masterpiece still occasionally surfaces; many of the biggest franchises in gaming are all starting to look the same. Gaming has, in a sense, become a victim of its own success.
Call it what you will: a fear of change, a collective sluggishness, too much business in game development...whatever it is, it's killing creativity. Essentially, the games industry has started down the same path as Hollywood before it: as big publishers and developers doggedly and ham-handedly vie for "mass appeal" in their titles; a pervasive creative drain has begun to surface, clawing its way into virtually every facet of the market. The end result, of course, is that all the AAA titles on the market are sort of...melding together.
Everything's starting to look the same.
There is a wide array of factors at play here, but at the end of the day; each and every one is related to one key article: money. AAA development isn't something that can be done in someone's basement any longer: to get the sort of production values expected in most mainstream titles these days necessitates a budget (and team) which rivals - perhaps exceeds - even that which you'd see in any blockbuster film. Perhaps as a side effect of this, many organizations have scampered away from anything that smells 'new' or 'different.' They cringe at the unique, and instead happily enmesh themselves in sequels and copycats, in old methods and tried-and-true tactics: essentially, in what they know will get them sales.
Worse, many larger publishers even project this obsession with what they believe 'the mainstream' wants onto their acquired organizations. Otherwise unique developers are hence turned into just more cookie cutter organizations, as fans of what made them great in the first place lament their death. An obligatory nod here to Electronic Arts - one of the best-known perpetrators; a publisher known for "turning every organization it touches to shit."
It's pretty clear how independent gaming has kicked off, in light of everything I've described here. Indie games are a callback to what game development - and the games industry - used to be. They are at once both a return to gaming's roots and a step forward to something completely new and unique. The middleman - the publisher - is removed from the equation, and any restrictions on what these developers can do with their titles are removed with them. As a result, where AAA gaming is shifting towards a dull, bland, status-quo affair; the independent scene is vibrant, creative, and teeming with new and unique ideas.
It also helps that independent games are all considerably cheaper than anything you'd find on the mainstream market, and just as entertaining, to boot.
Only one question remains, then: where do we go from here? Myself, I'm of the mind that this epidemic of creative bankruptcy will sort itself out, given time. Eventually, we're going to see more and more developers - more and more "giants;" as Insomniac Games' Mike Acton puts it - willing to step back and challenge the norm. As more people start to go against the grain; more will see the merits of doing so. Certainly, we're going to still have to sift through offal to find the true gems: but there will, at least, be more of them to find.
Image Credits: 
Eight Reasons The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Awesome
As you're all no doubt aware, The Elder Scrolls Online - currently in open beta - will be launching in a few months or so. In light of both the new release date and all the hype surfacing around it, I've decided that, over the next two weeks, I'll be looking at all the reasons to look forward to it...and all the reasons we shouldn't.
League of Legends or DOTA 2?
The debate between Dota 2 and League of Legends has been raging almost since the two games were first released. But which game is REALLY the superior of the two?
Ten Fictional Settings That'd Make For Awesome MMOs
Let's look at a few settings, worlds, and stories I'd love to see made into MMOs. I'm sure you'll agree, all the entries on this list have the potential to be downright awesome.
MMO Year In Review: 5 of 2013's Biggest Dick Moves
People are dicks - particularly on the Internet. While that shouldn't come as any great surprise, occasionally we come across someone whose level of sheer dickery reaches legendary proportions. As we move into 2014, let's take a look at a few such individuals from the previous year.
Censorship Spells Trouble for League of Legends Patcher
Internet filtering has been a hot button issue for the past several years. With the slow gutting of protective measures like Net Neutrality, and with governmental powers seeking an end to online anonymity, it's rather harrowing to see the slow progression of political and social policing of the internet. Recently, after about a year of lobbying, the United Kingdom enacted a piece of legislation that many have come to call the "UK Porn Filter." What the filter requires is for British ISP's to implement filters and controls, which are on by default, that will block access to "violent material," not imited to "extremist and terrorist related content," "anorexia and eating disorder websites," and "suicide related websites."
Five Things Riot Needs To Do With League of Legends
The folks at Riot already have their work cut out for them moving into Season 4, and they?re doing a damned find job of weathering the transition so far. That said, here?s a few changes we?d like to see as the new season draws near.
The Five Best MMOs of 2013
2013 was quite a year for MMOs. Not only did we enjoy a whole host of strong releases; a bunch of already excellent games were made even better. Here's just a few of MMO Attack's favorite MMORPGs of the year.
Five Trends That Reshaped MMORPGs In 2013
It's been a hell of a year, hasn't it? As we move into the first days of 2014, let's take a look back at how the world of MMOs has changed - and how that might impact the future.
Best Free MMORTS and Strategy Games List (2014)
A top 10 list of the best free MMORTS and strategy games so you can give them all a try in one place and not have to worry about scouring the internet to find the best ones
The Lack Of Quality In The Survival MMO
We've seen an abundance of new titles join the genre this year, most hot on the heels of the incredibly popular DayZ mod from ARMA II, but they all seem to share a certain lack of quality and polish