Yesterday, Sony announced a boatload of indie titles. That's good for them and great for us. Let's talk about why.
I am a bit of an early adopter when it comes to gaming consoles, but the only next-gen system I've gotten so far is Sony's Playstation 4. And while I've blown some money on $60 AAA titles, the games I'm playing the most never seem to cost more than $15.
So you can imagine I was very happy when Sony announced a slew of new, cheap indie titles all of which will bow within the next year. And if you've got a PS4 (or are thinking of getting one), you should be excited, too, because indie games are (and should be) the future of gaming.
Here are five things I've been thinking about since the PS4 launched, which have only felt more true in the last 24 hours.
1. Bringing over updated indies means a constant stream of games to play
One of the complaints you'll hear from some hardcore gamers is that many of the indie games Sony is bringing to the PS4 already came out on PC. Even if most households had PCs designed for gaming (which they don't), I still wouldn't agree with that sentiment.
The reality is that most of these titles are getting an update when they relaunch on the PS4. And, yes, add to that the fact that plenty of people have never played these games. The reality is that the first year of a console's existence is often a quiet one. Just look at Nintendo's Wii U. They're in year two and are still suffering from a lack of quality titles.
Meanwhile, the PS4 hasn't even been out for a half a year yet, but there are tons of games stretching across all genres. Sure a lot of them are cross-platform, but if the PS4 is the system you've got, you're not gonna be hungry for something to play.
Making sure there's a steady stream of indies means that, even if you're white-knuckled and waiting for those AAA games, you'll still have something fun to keep you occupied in the meantime.
2. A lot of these games are bringing couch co-op back
If the last generation (and XBox Live, in particular) perfected the art of online gaming, then this new generation is going to bring gaming back to the living room. And that's fantastic.
Look, I'm not going to bag on playing games online, but, as a social activity, it can be kind of limiting for a service that lets you play with anyone on the planet. Without a face (or even a voice, sometimes) to interact with, the element of mutually acknowledged humanity gets lost.
Playing on the same couch as someone, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Sure, you might still yell at each other, you might mock, you might chide, if you will, but having another person with you instantly makes for an inherently more social (and enjoyable) event.
Sony is already killing it on that front with games like Towerfall Ascension and Mercenary Kings. Heck, even Octodad has a hilarious co-op mode in which each player controls one side of the character.
And many of the upcoming crop of indie games are pouncing on the return to local multiplayer. Remember when Nintendo released the Wii boxed with Wii Sports and promised a console that would bring people together? It looks like Sony is the one who'll actually make good on that promise, and indie games are a huge part of that equation.
3. People without gaming PCs finally get to play the games they've been missing out on
I touched on this a little earlier, but it bears further analysis. For all the success that consoles have had over the decades, PCs are still where you get the largest volume of titles. And many of them never make the cross-platform journey to gaming consoles.
And while Valve introduced the idea of a "Steam Box," which is basically just a gaming PC designed specifically for the digital platform Steam, there have been more minuses than pluses to that gambit. Steam boxes are all different, run the gamut from kind of expensive to "Holy crap who would buy that thing?", there's a controller no one quite knows how to feel about, and the whole launch simply reads as too complicated for someone who just wants to play a game.
Meanwhile, Sony is a name all gamers know, has created a system that is both fairly priced AND was designed to be easy to develop for, has finally crafted a controller everyone likes, and, on top of that, is bringing all the cream of the crop PC titles to the console market.
You might not get every PC title, but there are way more making their way to consoles in this new generation and the PS4 seems to be where they're headed.
4. Indie devs are getting more attention, which means more money, which means even more games.
Admittedly, you, the gamer, may not see the benefit of this right away, but devs having their games brought to a Sony system is MASSIVE for them. As I mentioned before, there are tons of gamers who will have previously never heard of these teams or their games but will now be lining up to sing their praises. That translates into a marked increase in sales, which means these smaller companies will be able to produce even better games, and more of them.
What that means in the long term is that you'll continue to have a steady stream of affordable games to play. And that's fantastic.
5. Indie games make for the perfect mixture of retro and innovation
AAA Games are usually designed to attack a pre-existing genre. And that genre is usually first-person shooters. And, hey, there is nothing wrong with that. Pretty much everyone loves them a little Call of Duty.
But games are a lot like movies; nobody just wants to watch popcorn-chewing action flicks all the time. Variety is the spice of life. And this is where the most important aspect of indie gaming comes into play.
The only limit that a small team of devs has is their own imaginations. And money. That is also a factor. But, when you get down to it, you don't need a boatload of cash to make a great game.
And indie games are a perfect marriage of old school and new school. On the one hand, you get your Metroidvania reinventions like the upcoming Axiom Verge, Chasm and Escape Goat 2, but you also get titles like Octodad that add a silly co-op idea with an oddball story you'd never get from AAA, or horror games like Daylight that are designed so that people can not only watch you play online, but mess with you by typing in key commands.
That's the real fruit of indie games for players -- the ability to play new games with a classic edge or something else entirely they never would have imagined on their own.
Having bought the PS4 at launch, having played most of the games in its library, it's clear to me that Sony is placing its focus on the independent market. Indie games can be churned out faster, they are cheaper to develop, digital titles generate more income for devs and Sony alike, and, in the end, gamers get a full library of innovative games.
And that's why Sony focusing on indie games for the PS4 is the best news ever. If you want more proof, check out the trailers for all the upcoming games Sony just announced.