Close
Report Comment to a Moderator Our Moderators review all comments for abusive and offensive language, and ensure comments are from Verified Users only.
Please report a comment only if you feel it requires our urgent attention.
I understand, report it. Cancel

Notch: "Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it."

Notch: "Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it."

Thu 03 May 2012 10:24am GMT / 6:24am EDT / 3:24am PDT
PeopleDevelopment

Mojang developer lashes out over publisher's Steam 'indie' bundle

Mojang lead and indie icon Markus Persson, AKA Notch, has lashed out at EA on twitter in response to news of the publisher launching an 'indie' bundle on Steam.

In a pair of tweets published earlier today, Persson lambasted the publisher for cashing in on the resurgence of indie titles, claiming that EA was in fact "methodically destroying" gaming whilst indie devs are attempting to save it.

"EA releases an 'indie bundle'? That's not how that works, EA," Persson tweeted in reference to EA's collection of DeathSpank, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue, Gatling Gears, Shank, Shank 2 and Warp. "Stop attempting to ruin everything, you bunch of cynical bastards."

Moments later, he added "Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it."

Whilst the response could be interpreted as a slightly precious defence of the medium from someone who has become a multi-millionaire after his own indie title became incredibly popular, Notch quickly made clear that he's not trying to take any credit for "saving gaming" himself.

"Fwiw, I don't even call Mojang inde any more. Vlambeer is indie. Polytron is indie. Stephen, Ed, Terry, Derek, Tommy and Chris are indie."

Recently, The Humble Indie Bundles have seen considerable success for the developers involved, despite a 'pay what you want' model which allows purchasers to adjust what percentage of the purchase price goes to developers and what ends up with a charity of their choice.

EA's Indie Bundle is available for £14.38 from Steam, a 70 per cent discount from the costs of each individual title combined.

58 Comments

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,186 1,273 1.1
It is definitely interesting that EA would leverage the term "indy" to make a sale, instead of trying to push their company brand name as a sign of quality when it comes to games which are smaller in price and scope.

If EA were a major record label or movie studio, they would have created a subsidiary with a unique brand name and "street credit", when it comes to pushing indy games, a long time ago.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Ian Bell Head of Studio, Slightly Mad Studios

6 0 0.0
Couldn't agree more with Markus. This is 'Doublespeak' of hilarious proportions.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Zan Toplisek

44 16 0.4
His accusations are downright pathetic. It reminds me of an overgrown child whose toy has just been shared with grownups.

Ryan Langley from Halfbrick Studios put it nicely: "I mean, would you be pissed if Microsoft made an XBLA Indie Bundle with Braid, Fez, Castle Crashers, Toy Soldiers & Limbo? All MS published."

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
I am very much a fan of indie games, Minecraft being a noteable example. However, I must say that this EA bashing is getting a bit tiresome. Not to say there aren't reasons to criticise, but to say:

"Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it."

Is well, a little OTT to say the least. Some of the games I have enjoyed most in recent memory have been EA titles. Perhaps theres a difference between EA the publisher and EA the developer, but the statement draws no divide.

It just seems like a needlessly inflammatory statement to me.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Andrew on 3rd May 2012 1:16pm

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
I cant see how releasing a bundle full of indie games is bad. Its actually good because a big publisher like EA is actually publishing and promoting indie games.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware

292 154 0.5
So Notch gets angry when EA uses the term Indie? What a child.
Or was there actually something else that Notch was angry about, that i missed?

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Anthony Gowland Lead Designer, Outplay Entertainment

221 798 3.6
Popular Comment
"Indie" in its current usage is just a fairly meaningless marketing term now, so why not.

"I'm an indie developer" is the "I'm in a band" of the gaming world.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware

292 154 0.5
Well ill give Notch´s outburst a second thought when a few more current indie developers join him in a semantics discussion and EA bashing.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve

342 293 0.9
I don't get why this is news. There are people full of angst shouting for the death of EA all over the internet, but because Notch says it, it's news.

I see nothing wrong with what EA is doing here.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,289 126 0.1
So is indie only actually indie if it's self-published or without the attachment of a large publisher? Or is Persson just being overly pedantic and defensive?

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve

342 293 0.9
@Terence
It seemed to start that way, but just like with music its become so popular it's now just more of a genre rather than anything to do with how it was published. When people think indie, they think of retro sidescrollers, or basically anything that could be labelled as 'alternative'.

I think Notch is becoming a hipster.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios

191 81 0.4
Okay, Let me ask a question here, because I haven't seen a single person bring this up.

When Steam makes ridiculous bundle deals on things like publisher catalogs, publisher genre specific catalogs, series bundles, etc... everybody is estatic and saying "OMG another Steam sale YAY!!!" *click/buy*

But, when EA comes out with a bundle of their own, they're a greedy publisher that's out to make a buck at the developer's expense.

How about we take a closer look at Steam over the past several years with their increasingly large amount of bundle sales and persistent bundles (bundles that are always available). Why is Steam not getting any heat over this? (pun not intended)

I mean, If people are going to argue about EA ruining gaming by making bundle deals, then we should equally argue about Steam selling bundle deals day in and day out, without blinking an eye. Steam makes TONS of bundles, some promotional, some permanent, and you dont hear a complaint. EA tries to make one single bundle to get attention to indy developers (or make a quick buck, who cares either way), and they get the wrath of god.

Does anybody ever think that maybe Steam's bundles have to be approved by the Publishers? So why arent any of these publishers getting the heat? Even though I don't really have a high opinion of EA, I still think they don't deserve this flak over a single bundle.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,289 126 0.1
But surely the term indie merely describes a game developed by an independent company. It's a very grey area if we start talking about who funds the game, how big the developer is and so on. I mean, would Valve not qualify as 'indie', or does it not apply to them because they make too much money?

Just seems like a silly topic to get really fussy over when there's no clear definition.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Joshua

It's not so much the fact that it's a bundle, but that it's an "indie" bundle. If Valve did the same thing and called a bundle that included HL2 and both L4Ds an "indie bundle" people would be just as upset, I'm sure. Valve haven't done that, but EA have; hence why people are annoyed at EA but not Steam/Valve. (Edit: Not a perfect analogy, but a reasonable explanation of why people aren't jumping onto Valve because of various bundles on Steam).

It's (to me) irrelevant whether a bundle is indie or not - a bundle lives or dies on the games within it, but others think it's newsworthy, so *shrugs*

I've passed on Humble Bundles before because I don't care about the games. The fact is, EA are co-opting the indie moniker to make money; whether that's good or not should be secondary to whether the bundle is a) good value for money (it is) and b) whether games are good (debatable?). I do agree with the majority - Notch appears to be somewhat petulant here. Yes, EA have screwed over studios and IPs, but this isn't something to get annoyed about.

Also, so amusing that EA are doing this on Steam, but not Origin. It could be argued that they're trying to leverage Origin onto Steam users (since at least 2 of the games require Origin accounts), but it's hilarious that the bundle isn't on the Origin store. Also, I'd argue it shows a lack of commitment to Origin from EA.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 3rd May 2012 3:32pm

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios

191 81 0.4
It's probably a trojan horse bundle haha. Surprising that Steam would sell it if two of the games require Origin.

Really though, at this point in the game, the term indy is so vague and convoluted, that nobody knows exactly WHAT is classified as an indy dev anymore. Isn't an indy dev considered an indy when they arent tied to a publisher? or is the term indy used when their games dont make enough money? If it's the latter, then why would the Angry Birds devs be considered indy devs? What's the definition here?

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
To me, indie is a catagory of game, not something based on the developer or publisher. So, I would argue that Portal 1 and 2 are indie, simply because the type of game is so distant from the mainstream. As it stands now, it's the neatest way to clarify indie, as a term. Not perfect, though.

Oh, and btw, Steam really don't mind publishing things that require Origin - Kingdoms of Amalur requires an Origin account, and they've been selling that since release. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,186 1,273 1.1
Am I the only one to smirk at the parallels between major record labels being accused of not making "true hip hop" and this thread? Remember, only east coast indy is true indy, word y'all.

Posted:2 years ago

#17
"Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it."


I don't think this statement is directly related to his previous statement. Independent developers tend to try to innovate or take risks on games that publishers don't really want to take because they need a safer investment if they're dumping a AAA budget into a project. So, the safe investment for larger companies is something like Madden, which people tease is the same game every year, but people buy it so the investment is worth it. Some publishers do take risks on new concepts, and some studio developers are still trying to push things in new directions, but games in general are sort of homogenizing. I don't play many shooters because I'm not really into them, but from my experience, a majority of "new" shooters try to be Call of Duty, with established things sticking to their niche (Ghost Recon, Operation Flashpoint, and to a lesser extent, Battlefield, try to be more like military simulators than arcade-like shooters with a Military aesthetic). When a lot of games try to be more like the games that are already successful, it sort of stunts the growth of the medium.

However, from the indie side, there are still a lot of games that are just as "rehashed" as the big name studio produced games. I really REALLY like Super Meat Boy, but it's another platformer (with the sense of speed of something like Megaman Zero without combat). Braid is more unique because it's about the puzzles with unrestricted time powers that give you a great "ah ha!" moment when you solve them, and a story that's directly tied to the concept of the gameplay. Pushing it further, you get games like Unfinished Swan or Journey. You're going to get games that don't even want to consider themselves a part of an established genre, which is great! And yet, a lot of indie developers are new, and do something established, but with a twist, to build up their skills, or do something established as a throwback to what they loved when they were younger.


It might be hard to see it depending on what you're observing, but I think that's what he meant.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joshua McCormick on 3rd May 2012 4:08pm

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
To me, the definition of "indie" has to do mainly with budget. Indie devs "go indie" because they dislike the inherent structures of big publishers financing their titles, and all the problems they have with them are related to budget. So they break off from that and try to realize a novel or quirky gameplay idea that doesn't take a huge budget to flesh out.

Portal, to me, is more like a mainstream "remake" of an indie game.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,021 1,470 1.4
Eh, he's overreacting. It's a bit stupid for EA to throw around the term "indie" to grab a few extra sales, but it's hardly something to blow up over.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations

104 83 0.8
@Nicholas: there's always a reason to blow up over marketing efforts directed at profits at the expense of truth. Using the word "indie" in this case is an abuse, and should be countered with firmly founded criticism just as any other case of unfair customer treatment. Marketing has already gone too far in bending the rules in it's "war for the customer". We need to use our wallets (as a weapon) to put it back where it belongs: honest and informative sales support (as opposed to a pack of lies used to con people into buying something they don't want for various reasons -- ideology being one of them, at least for some, as with "indie" market).

Posted:2 years ago

#21
Is he really a fully mature man? Doesnt look so mature right now.
Son, Im disappointed.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

292 704 2.4
While Notches comments may be a bit 'off the cuff' and not well thought out, I do understand what he was trying to say.

I guess his beef is that EA is a massive company that has no ties whatsoever to indie products and is just jumping on the bandwagon to make some cash. Of course the developers have to agree to do this and probably just see it as another possible revenue stream, but I can see where he is coming from.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

242 99 0.4
Well, you can also turn it around, Indies are ruining gaming by releasing crap games that are also unfinished or are just ripoff's from the bigger games.
And I'm sorry to say, I'm not impressed with mister's succes, because for me it's just another crap game he released. Furthermore IMHO he's a big hypocrit for releasing work in progress games and asking money for it even though it isn't finished yet..

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

292 704 2.4
@Andrew: Yes, I agree he released a game in beta and got rich from an idea he borrowed from another game, but to millions it is a great game. Sure it doesn't have the gloss or finish that AAA games have, but the game offers much more than many top tier games I could mention that cost 4x as much.

But then again it is not everyone’s cup of tea and I can respect that.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 3rd May 2012 6:48pm

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Andrew

Well.
Furthermore IMHO he's a big hypocrit for releasing work in progress games and asking money for it even though it isn't finished yet.
So, you hate Kickstarter? Paying for games that aren't finished yet is huge business. That's pre-ordering titles for you. :) Only difference is, Notch allows you to play it whilst it's still being developed. Also, depending upon your definition of indie, it's fairly common practice for mainstream publishers to do this - look at the whole "pre-order now and play the beta" business. Even EA did that one, with BF3 (early Beta access for people who pre-ordered).
Well, you can also turn it around, Indies are ruining gaming by releasing crap games that are also unfinished or are just ripoff's from the bigger games.
And then you can criticise games from large publishers which are the same. How many knock-offs of, say, military FPSs are there?

Edit:

Not to say you don't have a point, but more to say that he isn't the only one in the biz who does it, and it's not limited to "indies".

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 3rd May 2012 6:54pm

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Sergio Rosa "Somewhat-Creative Director", Domaginarium

66 41 0.6
If anything is "methodically ruining gaming," it would be the remarks from these indies and their "us Vs them" attitude, thinking that the "indie" label makes them special in any way. The gaming industry should be about making games because gamse are cool, not arguing about who's better and cooler.

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Emily Knox Associate Designer, CCP Games

50 113 2.3
EA aren't destroying anything in releasing this bundle. However they are inaccurately marketing it as "indie" - since all the games within this bundle are published by EA.

Morville, I find it interesting that you view indie as a type of game and not connected to the developer/publisher relationship. But that's exactly what it means to me!

Being an independent developer or not does not denote quality of a title, nor size of a team (compare Jagex and Introversion) it is the difference between being funded by a publisher or managing without. Both routes are viable and both routes are obviously capable of producing good and bad games.

The word indie simply doesn't belong to a selection of games that have all been funded by a publisher, unless of course I'm wrong and indie doesn't mean independent. It seems misleading on EA's part trying to market their games in a category that, speaking from a little experience, may often have no funds to put into marketing, and often relies on a special indie spotlight.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
What about games that are partly distributed, but not funded by publishers? Does portal qualify as indie game? How about DOTA 2? Is World of Warcraft an indie game? There has to be a more thorough definition of indie games other than 'not funded by publisher money'. It's become a fuzzy marketing term and EA are capitalizing on it.

Posted:2 years ago

#29
I don't think people understand what this is about. Notch's response is exactly how indie devs should (and many do from what I've been reading) feel. First of all "indie", while a little bit fuzzy, has never meant "quirky". That is just flat out wrong. Even if there is a correlation of quirkiness and risk-taking in indie titles, that is a fallacious abuse of linguistics. Similar to saying that Catholicism is defined as child molestation just because there is a publicly recognized association.

Now there is an "indie-spirit" associated with indie developers. It is why so many people try to flee the evil empires like EA as soon as they can to start their own company. In order to escape, they need sustenance - customers to buy their games. The "indie scene" is a camp for people who want to escape the bureaucratic parasitical bloat of the modern publisher-driven industry. When a publisher like EA -- with bloated stomach yet never satiated -- competes directly with indies by misleading consumers and using their "trademark" ("indie" is not legally a trademark but it is the same sort of disgusting situation you would see if literal trademark infringement was occuring; cashing in on others image and work), they are feeding their already full bellies while indie devs are starving. The hope is that they can destroy all hopes of developers breaking away from this model so they are forced to come crawling back to the publisher cartel and crunch yet again for peanuts and layoffs.

Fuck EA, and fuck anyone who defends them.

Posted:2 years ago

#30

James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada

190 250 1.3
One thing is certain, here and in the broader community - the term 'indie' has come to mean a lot of different things to different people.

While these games were independently developed (EA Partner Program), EA certainly had a hand in publishing and marketing them. Shank is a funny example - it was originally part of the Humble bundle. That one at least should be indisputably Indie :)

As an EA guy, I'm also really pleased that this is happening on Steam, and that we're not cutting all ties there and paying attention strictly to Origin.

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Emily
The word indie simply doesn't belong to a selection of games that have all been funded by a publisher,
But, here again, is a thing. Okay, I can buy (so to speak) that indie means not being funded by a publisher. But what about distribution? Would Bastion count? It's self-funded, but published by Warners?

A couple of side-notes:

1) If we, as gaming professionals, can't decide on a definition of "indie", then surely EA are well-within their rights to market the bundle as indie?

2) Perhaps looking at the movie industry would be useful? Whilst analogies to the film industry are ten-a-penny these days, it's interesting to note that just because a person or company funds something, does not necessarily make it "mainstream". Clint Eastwood does random films that, whilst being mainstream because they involve a star, could be called indie - Gran Torino, as a for-instance. The Sundance Film Festival originated because of Robert Redford's interest in promoting indie films, and many which are shown there end up being partially backed and fully distributed by large companies.

@ Jeffrey
When a publisher like EA -- with bloated stomach yet never satiated -- competes directly with indies by misleading consumers... they are feeding their already full bellies while indie devs are starving.
Really? Well... Why don't you go tell that to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapdoor_%28company%29 (independent developer of Warp)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klei_Entertainment (independent developer of Shank 1 and 2)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hothead_Games (independent developer of Deathspank, with Ron Gilbert)
Fuck EA, and fuck anyone who defends them.
With the greatest of respect...

Fuck anyone who belittles a developer getting money from a bundle, just because they're published (and possibly were funded) by a larger company. You help no-one's cause by saying this.

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Also, read all this about indies, then go here

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-05-03-pid-dev-might-and-delight-renting-an-xbla-slot-from-publisher

And read that.

Does a company that "rents" a XBLA slot from a larger company (like, say, EA) count as indie? Interesting to read the two stories in parallel. :)

@ James

Aye. Silly language and its ability for words to mean different things to different people. :p

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 3rd May 2012 11:24pm

Posted:2 years ago

#33

Alex Yuen

8 1 0.1
This bashing of EA for using the phrase 'indie', if not merely an assault on the brand name of EA, is equivalent to suggesting that independent game producers should not partner with major publishers for the distribution of their games, but to partner with other 'indie' publisher/platform.

That would have been a risky/costly/time-consuming business decision.

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Alvaro Gonzalez Producer, El Perseguidor

5 0 0.0
first, minecraft is NOT a game it's a SANDBOX... just need to spit that out... second there is nothing more awesome than have access to cheaper games, this increase the players around the world and that is the ultimate goal of any designer.

Posted:2 years ago

#35
Agreed with Notch. If nothing, he's saving the "image" people got of indie developers - and EA knows "the image" is everything. Don't underestimate the use of the term "indie". Companies like EA probably have more people formulating "marketing alchemy" than development staff. So, people is perceiving indie developers as "good" and people like EA is jumping on the bandwagon for mere profit. (again, agreeing with Felix)

Enough with marketing... I'm really, really saturated by MARKETING STRATEGIES everywhere. And that's probably what people buying indie games feel like as well. Enough big, fat mammoths like EA, wasting time, money, resources, talents, ideas... and all because so that they can grow bigger and fatter and wasting more of everything in the process.
How many projects people like EA can every year - that WE know of !? How many talents they lay off every year ? Oh right, they "move the market"... for other mammoths like them.
Most of the times making games is for fun for indie devs. Maybe for becoming "popular"... and it might be for money AS WELL... but rarely just for the "coins".

Really, I don't want EA to disappear from Earth.... just, dear marketing guys... FCS... BEHAVE FOR ONCE!!

Posted:2 years ago

#36
This is not EA using the word "indie" because it's there and undefined and they don't know better. They know what they are doing; cashing in on the "* Indie Bundle" trend. They are not doing "indies" a favor; the money that goes toward this bundle could have gone toward another indie bundle, only it's going to this bundle with EA taking a cut. And if EA is doing this out of the bottom of their heart to help indies and not taking a cut, I will still be skeptical but that would ease a lot of my angst. Instead what I really think they are doing is trying to control the market to keep the power structure where developers have no say over their future.

"Also, read all this about indies, then go here

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-05-03-pid-dev-might-and-delight-renting-an-xbla-slot-from-publisher

And read that.

Does a company that "rents" a XBLA slot from a larger company (like, say, EA) count as indie? Interesting to read the two stories in parallel. :)"

I don't fully understand what these "slots" are since in that same article Microsoft says they don't give out slots, so it just sounds like publishing to me. I would say this is not indie without hesitation; really, not even a tough call at all (unless I am misunderstanding). Publishers use their clout to help developers succeed, then take a cut. This sounds like the publishing model, though perhaps a little less strict. Really it just sounds like publishers have created an artificial resource called "slots" (which, since publisher time is finite, one could say they've always had this resource even if it was never named such) and selling that in a manner that continues the publishing model.

Anyway Morville, I'm sorry for my language but not for my message. I guess if I don't have the right language I'm never going to spread my message, so I need to work on calming down :(. Still, think about this: Any time a publisher helps a developer gain sales, those sales are being taken from another developer. Or, more realistically, those sales are being taken from another product as the consumer might spend it at movies or music or what have you. Publishers are not creating wealth; they are merely controlling it. This is known as rent-seeking, and it is the most dangerous parasitical pattern that plagues our society, far worse than welfare.

from Wikipedia: "The simplest definition of rent seeking is to expend resources in order to gain wealth by increasing one's share of currently existing wealth instead of trying to create wealth. Since resources are expended but no new wealth is created, the net effect of rent-seeking is to reduce total social wealth. It is important to distinguish between profit-seeking and rent-seeking. Profit-seeking is the creation of wealth, while rent-seeking the use of social institutions such as the power of government to redistribute wealth among different groups without creating new wealth."

I believe that platform holders and publishers habitually use their clout to funnel money into their pockets without creating an equivalent exchange of value for that transaction. Say that you make a game and I make a game and we release our games and we each make $50,000. Let's say in an alternate universe I go with a publisher who helps me advertise and takes thirty percent of the cut. I get more sales and make $90,000, getting to keep 70% or $63,000. However I got this money because the publisher convinced other people to buy my game instead of yours; you are left with $10,000, feeling a little cheated. I feel a little better about my decision as I have gained more than I would otherwise. The publisher walks away with a fair $27,000, having created nothing of value but having merely shifted value around. So let's say you decide to go with the publisher next time and the roles are reversed: I only make $10,000 and you make $63,000, and the publisher makes $27,000. At this point we would both already be better off if we were still operating in the first universe (we would both have $100,000), but we are doing ok. We each have $73,000, and the publisher has $54,000 for no work (I admit publishers do value-adding work and will get to that in a second, but to the large extent that they are rent seeking I wish to continue with this). We would have been better off in the alternate universe making $100,000 slowly and patiently off of work instead of letting a con man use our fear of competing with each other against us.

And they can keep doing it again, driving fear into many developers asking for a larger percentage as they grow in power until they simply own the developer and pay a flat wage and reap all the reward.

I know this is simplified because there are much more than 2 developers competing and because publishers do provide some value (large QA forces are value-adding), but that does not make up for the vast wealth and power they have acquired off the creations of others, often by pushing devs to work 100+ hour weeks. The problem is that developers "choose" to go through publishers without looking at the large picture, only looking at short term heads up advantages. Similar to an athlete taking steroids to perform well in the short term while damaging their health in the long term. Which would be okay if it was merely the athlete harming their own health, but they put other athletes in a position where they have to harm their health similarly to keep up.

That publishers do this in a manner that leads to crunch and layoffs and DRM is enough for me to consider them evil. On a personal level, I hate publishers. Anyway, yeah, sorry to get overboard with my anger, and thanks for your response, but I don't think people understand just how insidious rent-seeking is. By the way, this is what many of the elites do in this world, which is what the occupy movement and 99% vs 1% angst is all about; just a shame that the public (myself included, I am still learning) doesn't understand all the tricks that many of the rich have done to get to where they are then claim they got there by "hard work". Well, I'm sure rent-seeking is just as much hard work as value-adding, but it's not what society needs to reward for progress.

Posted:2 years ago

#37

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
Now, if EA would actually put this collection out on a disc and sell it at a budget price directly from a website, THAT would be "indie" in spirit of what the word USED to mean before everyone claimed a piece of it and ran away.

I want to see a more serious look at the money being lost by the industry as it continues to completely forget (or just chooses to ignore) that a lot of console owners aren't getting access to this content even if they wanted it. Trying to rake in profits from what's basically the same user base that's already bought these games is a bit strange to me, as I can't see that many users who've already bought these buying them again and relying on new users to snap up this bundle in droves could be tricky (well, if they come in automatically hating EA for some reason I still can't fathom).

My only other complaint about the bundle: Where the hell is Spare Parts? i liked what I played of it, it's fun for the kids and even though it kind of killed the developer, it's still worth checking out...

g.

Posted:2 years ago

#38

Nuttachai Tipprasert Programmer

79 60 0.8
Do we have another new religion called "Indie" now? Why people need to waste their time arguing about 'what is and isn't indie'? As long as the games in the bundle are interesting (and they are), why do we need to care what it called? I seconds Morville here, discrimination about this kind of things help no one but your own ego.

Posted:2 years ago

#39

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
I just got a big laugh, as a friend of mine asked me what would have happened has EA wanted to buy and publish Minecraft for s boatload of money (more than what Notch has raked in so far). Would he turn it all down on principle, or would he fall over his shoes stumbling to the phone? I can't answer that one, but it did crack me up thinking about it for a few minutes...

Posted:2 years ago

#40

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,289 126 0.1
@ Jeffrey Crenshaw

Although I don't entirely agree with your comments on publishers, you do make some interesting points. However, haven't Mojang now become a publisher themselves now - obviously trying to get smaller games more exposure using their new-found fame in exchange for a cut of the profits. Does this mean they fall into the same insipid 'rent seeking' category as other publishers?

Posted:2 years ago

#41
Notch is right. Games like Shank 1-2, Deathspank and even the other two games in the bundle are not indie. You can't call them indie just because the're small titles. Indie = independent = without a publisher, that pays the developers and tells them, how the game should look like. Indie is about the way how games are being developed. If the developer gets regular salary then in my opinion he is not independent anymore, because he works for someone. If you ask indie developer, why he is creating games, then he answer - "because I want to". If you ask the same question a regular developer, then the answer will be something like "because thats my job, I have to do it".

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Michal Bayerl on 4th May 2012 9:33am

Posted:2 years ago

#42

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Indie = independent = without a publisher, that pays the developers and tells them, how the game should look like.
And I'll say again... What about Bastion?

"The team created the game over almost two years, and funded the development themselves."

"After a strong showing at the March 2011 Game Developers Conference, Warner Bros. signed on to publish and distribute the game."

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastion_%28video_game%29#Development )

People have to remember that just because a game isn't self-published, doesn't mean the devs have had their creative vision corrupted. Again, my analogy with Sundance is actually very accurate - a film created without outside financial input during the creative process and then picked up by a larger company for distribution can be either indie or not, depending upon the arm of the distributor which actually pays for it and how it's marketed.

And to further my point:

"EA Partners has pulled the covers off its newest acquisition, Warp, a "unique sci-fi stealth action game" coming from newcomer Trapdoor to XBLA, PSN and PC in the summer of 2011."

( http://www.joystiq.com/2010/11/10/ea-partners-brings-sci-fi-stealth-actioner-warp-to-pc-psn-xbla/ )

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 4th May 2012 9:48am

Posted:2 years ago

#43

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,186 1,273 1.1
Let's for a minute entertain the idea of "methodical destruction", come up with strategies of methodical destruction and see if EA is using them.

(1) Buy up indy devs.
Does not seem to happen and with enslavement not an option, this can only happen if the indy dev wants it.

(2) Prevent Indy titles from getting funds to develop a game
EA might choose not to publish something, but I hardly doubt they call up investors and ask them to redact money from a project EA does not like.

(3) Undercut Indy prices.
Sorry, EA is still more expensive

(4) Make better games
Sure, some EA games are better games than some of the Indy games, but that is called competition, not methodical destruction.

(5) Deny access to platform
That is something you could accuse Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo of doing, but not EA. The only platform EA has is Origin and Indys do well without it.

(6) Create regulations which are effectively a barrier of entry to the market of selling games.
Yes, but the big publishers do that as a whole, not just one publisher in particular. Game ratings and their bs regulations are a perfect example how a "feelgood law" can be abused to create a cartel.

(7) Troll indy devs with patents and sue them for trademarks
I suppose Notch is an expert on that, but somehow he mixed up publishers. Again, I have not heard EA doing that.

(8) buy up all ad space everywhere until indy products are invisible
Does not seem to happen, although some places have limited ad space and therefore indys are too small to compete for those ad spaces.

(9) Threaten to pull ads from video game magazines, if they review indy games.
Although I heard a lot of threads about ads being pulled, I have not heard this one.

(10) Firebomb studios and send a goonsquad to beat everybody up.
Thankfully, we no longer live in the 1930ies.


I am happy to announce that EA does not match my 10 criteria of attempted methodical destruction.

Posted:2 years ago

#44

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
Michal, this is a pretty narrow-minded definition.
Would you call World of Warcraft or Valve games indie? They are self-published and publishers don't dictate creative decisions.
I think being a "small title" is also part of the "indie" definition, or at least being developed by a small team.

Posted:2 years ago

#45
isIndy(game)
{
If (game == "published without a publisher")
{"the game is indy"}
else
{"the game is not indy"}
}

Please, plug this in your brains, because is real.

Now, if your type this:
IsIndy(Bastion) get "the game is not indy"
IsIndy(Valve) get "the game is not indy"


Easy :)

Posted:2 years ago

#46

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
Valve is a publisher now? If being successful enough to publish your own game disqualifies you from being indie now , then I guess notch's next game surely won't be considered indie as well.
How independent does a developer have to be in order to qualify as indie? No VC? Financed by inheritance or drug money?
How much money are they allowed to make before they are not considered underground enough anymore?
This discussion is getting a bit silly

Posted:2 years ago

#47

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Now, if your type this:
IsIndy(Bastion) get "the game is not indy"
And what's your reasoning for that? That they relied upon a large company who know how to market and distribute a game? A company who didn't foist any creative control or pressure on them? Is that it?

And at what point is the developer no longer a developer but a jack-of-all-trades who has to manage every part of an operation, just so they can call their game "indie"? I agree with Felix - this is getting silly.

Posted:2 years ago

#48

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
@Felix: it's nearly the exact same discussion that happened in the 90's about the "grunge" or "alternative" music scene (and previously with "punk" in the 80's). Things were going fine (and the music wasn't really categorized by the bands themselves), then according to some, the big publishers came in, scooped up bands, branded the scene and wrecked the music with corporate money and blah, blah, blah...

Meh, folks will wise up one day and realize that battling over semantics doesn't make good games, "indie" or not...

Posted:2 years ago

#49

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Greg

You, sir, just won the internet. Thank you. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#50

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
I guess there will soon be devs who claim that to be truly "original indie" you have to go full retro and sell your games on floppy disks out of the trunk of your car :P

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Felix Leyendecker on 4th May 2012 2:48pm

Posted:2 years ago

#51

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,186 1,273 1.1
@Felix

There shall be authentic indy looking EA salesmen hanging around at computer stores, selling Battlefield 4 "indy edition dvd roms" off cake boxes, taking cash only.

Posted:2 years ago

#52
Of course it is a semantic battle.

My final combo:
You are not Indy because your are Cool, or your game is outlandish.
You need create, make, and self-distribute the game.

Posted:2 years ago

#53

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
Heh. Let's go one step further:

You're not indie if you have someone (anyone) helping you create, make and self-distribute. After all, one single person is more independent than two, correct?

It sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not trying to be. Like Felix, I'm just trying to gauge at what point indie becomes mainstream for some of the people here.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 4th May 2012 4:50pm

Posted:2 years ago

#54
"However, haven't Mojang now become a publisher themselves now - obviously trying to get smaller games more exposure using their new-found fame in exchange for a cut of the profits. Does this mean they fall into the same insipid 'rent seeking' category as other publishers?"

In my opinion, the potential is definitely there. Even EA and Activision started as companies that tried to give developers more respect and freedom, and look how that turned out. I honestly have no reason to believe things will turn out any different; though Notch's attitude gives me hope, who knows what the future of Mojang is? Maybe he will leave some day and the new guard will be a little more shameless. Maybe it will be bought by Activision.

But let's focus on now. I will have to research the games Mojang is publishing and the services they provide to improve those games and the way the percentages break down, but likely this is a rent-seeking situation (consumer attention will be diverted toward the games that Mojang publishes regardless of their quality, away from other games that might have equal quality, and Mojang will take a cut of this money pool; no different from what other publishers do).

The "what does indie really _mean_?" debate is going on now in tigsource too (though it always is), and really I think that, yes, words can be debated, but it is pretty clear that "indie" and "independent" emerged in a field of discourse that seeked to separate talent from rent-seeking so that talent can get more money and control over the value they are adding to society. I don't mind getting into a discussion of the nuances of indie if people have this intent in the back of their head, but if you are just quibbling over semantics because you have some angst against the indie scene (as annoying as it can be sometimes) then you are engaging in a sad and pointless discussion; more an emotional outlet than anything wisdom can be gleaned from.

Posted:2 years ago

#55

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

292 704 2.4
Hmm, I always thought 'indie' was a dude wearing a fedora and brandishing a large whip. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 4th May 2012 10:27pm

Posted:2 years ago

#56

Craig Page Programmer

390 233 0.6
I'll never buy another EA game again... unless they make a sequel to Madden NFL 12.

Posted:2 years ago

#57
The definition of Indie is the same as pornography. "You know it when you see it"

An EA published game is the very definition of not being indie.

But besides anyone who uses the word to promote themselves is a tool. I've no problem with the IGF or any of the great games that have won it in the past but I really hate the term. It comes across as trying to be cool and that's only a couple of steps away from god forbid marketing speak.

Posted:2 years ago

#58

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now