If We Save The Indies, They Will Save Gaming.

I initially wanted to write a review for Child of Light. It’s an awesome RPG, and I want the world to know that. However, I feel there is something more important to discuss. And this game gives me the perfect chance to do so. This generation of gaming has been a number of things, depending on who you ask. Amazing, underwhelming, derivative, unique, any number of words could accurately describe it thus far. One complaint I hear more than most is “where are the new games?” It’s become somewhat of a battle cry amongst the gaming population. In my opinion, it’s a farce. If they would modify the chant to “where are the new AAA games?” then I could honor it. As for the former question? They are right in front of your face. As they have always been. You’re just looking right past them.

Let’s be clear. I’m well aware that the industry is living and dying on the backs of AAA games right now. That’s where the money is going, and that’s where the money is being made. My question is, who’s fault is that? The companies that make the titles? Or the people who only buy those titles? A while back, developers would use the money from marquee titles to fund more unique projects in hopes of having a diverse roster. This led to a healthy balance of blockbuster games almost everyone could enjoy, and smaller niche titles that appealed to different sub sections of the gaming population. That doesn’t happen anymore. Now it’s pretty much AAA or bust with the big boys. So where does that leave games such as Child of Light? In the hands of us, the gamers.

Child of Light is a gamer’s game, literally and figuratively. It was birthed by Kickstarter, which means it only exists because the people believed in it first. Ubisoft hopped on board after the fact, and their boost definitely helped the title immensely. My problem with this scenario after playing the game in its entirety? It deserves better. For 15 dollars, it is far and away worth your money. But it’s also very short for a traditional RPG. I would have happily paid 60 dollars for this game with 4 times the content. But that wasn’t an option. No one would have backed that title. It was either create an appetizer for the menu, or don’t cook for us at all.

Let’s talk about another great example. Harmonix recently wanted to revive Amplitude in the form of an HD remake. You may wonder why they couldn’t get anyone to back them. I mean, they gave us 2 huge franchises in Dance Central and Rock Band. However, Amplitude was not very successful sales wise in its day. No one believed it would be in today’s climate either, so they started a Kickstarter for it. As of now it’s about $40,000 away from reaching it’s goal. Since Sony owns the rights to the original title, it would be a Sony exclusive. You would think Sony would jump at the chance to strengthen it’s lineup with exclusive content of any kind, but that isn’t the case here. The fact remains that in this gaming climate, it is harder than ever to get funding for games that deviate from the formulas sure fire hits have created.

So back to Child of Light. I have a vision. I would hope that the success of this title, or any title born in the same manner, would justify a sequel. Or at the bare minumum, justify green lighting other projects of similar quality and creativity. You can’t keep hiding behind risk as an excuse when indie games are consistently outperforming big budget titles in quality. In what world does it make sense to throw money at sub-standard games and run away from high quality ones? This world. The one we created. No one can change it except us. I’m not going to tell you to shun AAA titles and buy every smaller budget game. But I will tell you that you might want to think a little harder about what you chose to support. This is an industry of numbers. These companies don’t care what we SAY we want. They care what the numbers say we want. If you care about the future of gaming, do your part to create balance. If you believe in a game no one else is talking about, promote it. Tell people about it, champion it! You do it for the bigger games right? No one has to prompt you to post the latest COD trailer, or sing it’s praises. But a smaller title comes along that you think is great and you keep it all to yourself. Which game really needs your help?

Games like Child of Light represent the future of gaming, whether you like it or not. They will decide if it continues to grow, or if it implodes. As AAA titles keep growing in cost, it’s only a matter of time until that business model collapses. It may FEEL like the majority of software sales come from those big budget games, but in reality they only account for about 25% of total software sales. It stands to reason that we will see less and less games of that sort over time. What will you play then? What happens when there are only 2-3 of those games a year per console? You’ll either get bored and say “video games suck now” or you will need other stuff to play. We can’t just assume these games will always sell enough to justify more of them. Like Outkast said……”Nothing is for sure. Nothing is for certain. Nothing lasts forever.” We aren’t helpless in the matter, and we really have no right to complain. Everyone says we should vote with our wallet whenever it comes to entertainment. In the gaming world, it actually works. It’s been proven. Never forget that.

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