Roughly a month ago, a team of veteran game developers came together for the first time in years and launched a Kickstarter for a game harkening back to the classic days of 3D platforming.
Made up of all former Rare members, the team (Playtonic Games) was famous for this style of game, creating such classics as Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. Within 38 minutes of launch, the game was completely funded, and has now stretched well passed its goal in the few weeks since the campaign started. The game, titled “Yooka-Laylee” is being touted as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, and is already shaping up to be much more interesting than any of the other dreck the Triple A companies are producing.
Several weeks after the launch of one of the biggest games on Kickstarter, another industry veteran, Koji Igarashi, known best for arguably the greatest games in the Castlevania series (Symphony of the Night, Dawn of Sorrow, and the other “metroidvanias”) launched his own Kickstarter for a new action RPG platformer titled Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Again, this game was funded shortly after the Kickstarter launched, and has reached several stretch goals since then.
These two instances are not unique. More and more, industry veterans are leaving triple A companies to start their own development teams, and are turning to Kickstarter or other crowdfunding instead of major publishers. Many of these games get funded, and most of them are much more innovative and interesting than anything the major developers are cooking up. While many journalists and big-wigs in the industry are warning of a coming collapse, indie developers keep plugging away doing more for video games than any big company has done in a decade.
Of course, crowdfunding has its downsides, as there have been several instances of indie studios funding a game and then going belly-up, leaving the investors twisting in the wind. However; with more well-known industry veterans coming into the fold, it is looking like the future of video games lies in the hands of indie companies. As the major developers keep pushing out the same games over and over again, independent companies are looking for new and exciting ways to change video gaming as a whole. When not constrained by the schedule and guidelines of big-name publishers (most of which are run by people who have never even played a video game, let alone made one), creativity flows much freer, and ingenuity prevails.
Let the industry collapse. Let the corporate side of the video game industry continue on its downward spiral of awful, repetitive games. Once the dust settles, a new era will begin in the gaming industry, an era that is reminiscent of the 90s, when games were more an art form than a cash cow, and the community was much more close-knit. Like a phoenix from the ashes, the industry will be rejuvenated, and although it still won’t be perfect, it will hopefully be much better than what exists now.