Mobile Mavens

Is E3 the place for mobile games and indie developers?

Do our Indie Mavens measure up

Is E3 the place for mobile games and indie developers?

E3 is mostly known for its big game announcements during its press conferences, which are now broadcast live to the world.

However, in the last few years we've seen Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo occasionally showing off indie games on their stage.

It's usually only a handful of these games from smaller studios that get shown off but it's more than what we've seen in years prior.

Considering this, while watching this year's E3 unfold either from the venue in Los Angeles itself, or at home over the internet, we wondered what our Indie Mavens made of it all.

And so we asked them the following question:

"Looking at this year's E3, do you feel the show is becoming more welcoming to indie developers and mobile games?"


Mike Rose PR Manager and Developer Relations Ripstone

I'm in the car with the TinyBuild team on the way to livestream from the Twitch HQ, so I asked them what they thought.

Alex: No.
Luke: No.
Yulia: No.

So there you go.

Tanya X. Short Creative Director Kitfox Games

This is my first E3, so I can't compare to previous years, but... I'm glad Sony continues to choose to include a bunch of indies in their lineup.

I feel slightly out of place in amongst the million-dollar setups, but there are just enough other indies around that I feel like I can settle in.

Do indies have place at E3?

It might be really disappointing to expect coverage in this kind of atmosphere, but making friends is always a good business investment, so at least there's that.

Richard Perrin Owner Locked Door Puzzle

The indies on display often come across like filler.
Richard Perrin

Though I've been invited, I've never actually demoed at E3 mainly because it doesn't feel like the best venue to get attention unless you're working on a really high profile higher budget indie title.

This is the show where everyone is looking for news on their big budget PC and console blockbusters.

The indies on display often come across like filler.

I do appreciate that the platform holders now make more of an effort to showcase indies at E3, but if you've not got the time and money to be at every show (and I don't) then E3 seems like a bad choice compared to other events.

Ben Murch Co-Founder Perchang

E3 is arguably the biggest gaming event of the year. Booths large enough to play sports in, contain sneak peeks and exclusives. Banners the size of buildings adorn the walls. Blazing screens and blaring music systems scream for your attention... and they get it.

Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda have all spared no expense in conference-shouting about their particular digital champions of the future.

Big men. Big games

Fans and press alike (for they are one and the same), clamour to catch a glimpse of Lara Croft, Master Chief and Nathan Drake.

Look at any major gaming news site right now and the stories are about those heroes. You might catch a glimpse of a current indie darling like Unravel, but mostly the limelight is taken by the adventures of Rainbow Six, Yoshi and Solid Snake. E3 is categorically "Not friendly" for your typical indie games company.

...and rightly so!

Indie devs will still be around next week once the dust has settled.
Ben Murch

E3 is Summer Blockbuster time in the games industry. It's massive and bombastic and totally over the top... and I absolutely LOVE it! Millions upon millions of pound-dollars have been spent to get those various games to that point. I want them to scream about how cool they are. It's our Avengers, our Jurassic Park, our JAWS!

Smaller budget indie games get their chance to shine throughout the rest of the year (well, except Christmas, but we can talk on that another time). Let the blockbusters have their week of fun. Let them party til the early hours. Let Nintendo slink off with Sega, then walk shamefully home in the morning.

Indie devs will still be around next week once the dust has settled.

Leanne Bayley Developer We Heart Dragons

I've not been lucky enough to go but from what I've watched at home I would say no.

I don't think E3 consumers would mind more indie games being represented, but the sheer scale and cost of what goes into an E3 press conference is just so far beyond what indies can afford to pay.

Lets face it if you had the kind of money required to be up on that stage you'd most likely be spending it on making more games!

Francois Alliot Designer Nerial

I could risk an impression, say that indies seem relatively absent from the keynotes I saw. Well again, I suppose it depends on what you call Indies.

What is a lot more present though is "indie flavoured" speeches and poses. It's really obvious to me in the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter. You see the designer talk very personally to the cam, asking money to the fan directly, a move that he supposedly asked Sony for "independence".

Ryo is back for Shenmue 3

Everyone knows a project like that is not fundable via Kickstarter. Kickstarter will be what, 10% of the final cost? Probably less. Sony will decide what's happening in the end.

This "monetary fan approval" is really just a way to launch the hype wagon, to create a dialogue with the fans by offering the "flavour", to borrow the language of an indie prod like "it's the result of a discussion between designer and player", "freedom of design choices", "personal implication of the team"...

It's not bad in itself, but it's just a way to monetize nostalgia, not really to explore new grounds.

Nathan Fouts Founder Mommy's Best Games

It's not the first convention at which I'd expect indies to shine, but they're shining nonetheless.
Nathan Fouts

Indie games are doing pretty well for themselves. Microsoft featured several games, smack in the middle of their E3 press conference... Cuphead, Westerado, and Beyond Eyes were all looking great. 

Sony's press conference even started with indie games in the opening montage (among the triple-As of course)! No Man's Sky looked amazing and that was serious screen time to let them play a live demo like that.

There's already stories coming out of playable demos of indie games on the show floor (or in private rooms) for games like the The Witness.

I've been to many E3s in the past and remember the days of guerrilla marketing and hoping to snag some coverage on the side. But times are more open now, as it's possible to even be featured in a press conference!

It's not the first convention at which I'd expect indies to shine, but they're shining nonetheless.

Greg Dawson PR PagodaWest Games

From PagodaWest Games: We're at E3 this week and we have to say that E3 continues to be about the big launches, but that's not to say indie devs shouldn't make it a priority to come to E3.

E3 is the place for meetings as well as games

But before you do, make a game plan. Reach out and setup meetings with the key people you want to potentially do business with and or are already. You never know what a little face time will lead to down the road. We were able to setup meetings with Apple, Sony, Square Enix and another indie team out of Colorado.

If you're looking for industry connections, E3 is the place to be.
Greg Dawson

If you're looking for industry connections, E3 is the place to be. In fact, just make it a point to go to the Marriott next door and you'll notice that every major player in the industry is talking shop, making deals, discussing future projects, etc.

But again, make it a point to preset meetings before you go ... if you don't, it is very difficult to meet with anyone as they've all been booked for weeks prior.

One more thought ... demo vs. just going.

The PagodaWest Games team demoed a few years back for Major Magnet and while it was awesome and a very big highlight for our team, the meetings we've had this week will probably be more valuable then spending cash on displaying your latest indie project.

There are just too many big launches that overshadow the indie projects.

Pavel Ahafonau Co-founder Happymagenta

I'd second all that Greg has said. However, our feeling from the big events like that are exactly similar to what the Crossy Road devs told in their story - there are small chances that your game will get noticed if you are just a starting indie with your first game. Hard to compete for attention with huge company stages that welcome many of journalists with champagne in the business section. And on some events like Gamescom the indie pavillion can be completely empty. I don't know how much it changed this year. As we are not on E3 at this time.

This year our team is set to travel only to Gamescom and GDC EU as simple gamers, mostly to have fun, drink beer, eat wurst and visit nearby fairytale castles with stunning mountiain views in the Alps, and only a few of us might be actually doing business there.

With an affinity for eccentricity, as well as anything macabre or just plain weird, Chris searches for the games that fly under the radar. If you ask him, anything can be a game. Oh, and a game can be about anything, if you put enough thought into it. So, there.