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PGC Digital: What it means to be an indie developer

"For the longest time big publishers were not interested in indie titles"

PGC Digital: What it means to be an indie developer

Being an indie developer is hard work, there is much to consider when you choose to set out on your own.

As part of Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4, we held a panel discussion on the indie scene. More specifically, has indie become a dirty word?

The panelists were Mokuni Games founder and CEO Kurt Young, Asmodee COO Nicolas Godement, Grey Alien Games director Jake Birkett, Fundamentally Games chief of strategy Oscar Clark (moderator), Indie Games Fest co-founder Stefan Schmidt and Kukouri CEO Kim Soares.

"A lot of indies change from one game to another because they get bored of one," said Birkett.

However, for an indie game to see success, there are usually various iterations of the title before its performance to a higher standard.

"Being an indie gives you liberty to change what you want to do," said Soares.

What is an indie

To be an indie, it is important to be creative and to find a niche. Typically, an indie developer will face financial difficulties. The amount of resources and money on hand can be a determining factor in whether or not a studio is indie.

However, indie is an ambiguous term, with some developers referring to themselves as an indie for a different reason to others.

"For the longest time big publishers were not interested in indie titles," said Godement.

These days, big publishers such as Microsoft have founded their own indie arms or acquired them. Clearly, the top players within the industry have begun to recognise the impact of well designed indie games.

However, indie companies have to be wary of mistakes. Due to lack of financial backing, a mistake can be costly to an independent developer.

Going digital

Looking at board games specifically, there is a delicate balance when it comes to bringing a board game to the digital world. For it to work, it is crucial to find a popular game that will work well on a digital platform.

However, as Godement explained, a board game can be thought of as an IP to aid in the digital experience of a board game.

While the digital experience may be different from the physical board game, there are still familarites, enough to make a player invest. Tabletop RPGs work well on other platforms due to characterisation that can be applied to all versions.

When making changes to a classic game, there can be some freedom. The opportunity for the developer to make additions that are not possible physically.

For example, as explained by Birkett, when creating a digital Solitaire, power ups could be added with an RPG system, neither of which are available through a traditional form of the card game.

PGC Digital #4 will run from November 9th to November 13th. To keep up to date with all of our coverage, check out the roundups here. There's still time to sign up - to find out more and book a ticket, head to the website.


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Staff Writer

Kayleigh is the Staff Writer for PocketGamer.biz. Besides PGbiz and PCGI she has written as a list writer for Game Rant, rambling about any and all things games related. You can also find her on Twitter talking utter nonsense.

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