20150828 - Atari Shock Reloaded?


Maybe this post should just be called "Indie Shock". Interesting graph below posted on twitter of the number of Steam game releases over time. Saturating isn't it?



Thoughts From Personal Perspective as a Consumer
Engines like Unity and Unreal make it much easier to produce games, but the games tend to be more similar, staying within the limitations imposed by the these mass market engines. Same effect happens as independent engine tech all falls into the same local minimum, or developers limit risk by staying in the confines of well walked genre. This makes it harder for a consumer to differentiate between titles. Choice in a sea of noise is random. It is not as much the content which shapes purchase decision in that case, but rather how the consumer gets directed by marketing.

As it becomes harder to choose, and as more choices result in failure of satisfaction, the barrier to purchase increases, and even the falling price cannot compensate. The price of free is actually quite high: the opportunity cost of doing something more compelling with one's time.

"Nobody Cares" aka the Excuse For Being Mediocre
Why bother investing time to achieve greatness? Proponents of this line of thinking often present justification in the form that the average consumer cannot tell the difference between low and high quality. For a producer this is effectively a self selecting choice to continue to swim in that sea of noise. Some forms of greatness may not be perceived at the conscious level, may not be something a consumer can articulate in words, but instead may only manifest in feel and yet have profound effect.

Outliners
Knowledge of excellence in some aspect which effects only a fraction of the market, say awesome multi-GPU support, establishes a hint that the producer cares about the product at a level beyond serving me a microwaved pre-constructed hamburger. It is very hard to maintain employment of the creative and driven individuals which produce top content without allowing them to strive for greatness, even sometimes at the compromise of maximum profitability.

As a consumer in a sea of noise, I select for the expression of producers looking to be the best that is possible. Who, given the limitation of architecture and time, choose paths which compromise in a way which allows a unique realization of the ultimate form of their art.