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Forget PS5 and Xbox: from now on I’m only playing indie games – Reader’s Feature

Balatro artwork
Balatro – one of the best games of 2024 (Playstack)

A reader is disillusioned by the state of triple-A gaming and the conduct of major publishers and decides to switch solely to indie games.

We’ve all seen the meltdown over the last few months, with Xbox and PlayStation, and the endless job cuts from every publisher, big and small. It’s as confusing as it is infuriating, especially as it seems like there’s nothing we can do about it. But I feel there is. As ordinary gamers we have a huge influence over what companies do, as the multiple U-turns that happen every year prove.

Obviously, nobody’s going to do a U-turn on all those lost jobs, but I’m just about done supporting big budget triple-A games from Western publishers. There was a very good Reader’s Feature the other week, about this whole circus, which ended with the suggestion that soon all that will be left of gaming is Nintendo, a few other Japanese companies, and indie games.

They implied that this would be an improvement on what we have now, and I would definitely agree with that. A games industry dominated by Nintendo would probably lead to their most negative traits coming to the fore, so I’m not going to pretend they’re a charity or anything, but for me the only Western games I can see myself playing in the future are indie games.

I’m not going to get on my high horse and pretend that if something really good comes out, from a horrible company like Take-Two, that I’m going to deny it to myself (and no, I’m not thinking of GTA 6) but as a general rule I’m done with triple-A games.

Apart from anything, indie games are just better. They’re definitely less reliant on sequels, to the point where indie sequels are famous for always selling mysteriously badly. I’m not sure why but in a way I’m glad because it must discourage others and make them realise that the reason people are interested in their games is because they’re new and original and not made purely to make money.

Just this year I’ve bought, played, and enjoyed Pacific Drive, Balatro, Pepper Grinder, Minishoot’ Adventures, No Rest For The Wicked, Another Crab’s Treasure, and Animal Well. Not only were they all good, and some genuinely great (Balatro is my favourite) but none of them were overly long and bloated and none of them were very expensive, compared to triple-A games – which is why I was able to afford them all.

None of those games are anything like each other, none of them is a sequel, and apart from No Rest For The Wicked and maybe Another Crab’s Treasure none of them are anything like what a major publisher would call triple-A and charge full price for, and that’s what makes them so good.

It’s clear that big business is killing video games. It’s probably not even Phil Spencer that’s making the decisions at Xbox now, but people higher up than him – now he’s wasted all their money on Activision Blizzard. Sony don’t even pretend that anyone with an interest in gaming is in charge of PlayStation. Jim Ryan clearly didn’t care, and they haven’t even had a proper boss for months.

The reasons these things are happening is because these companies need to show growth and the simplest way to do that is lay people off and stick to the surest bets possible in terms of games. I’m not interested in that. Little business will provide my games from now on and I expect that to be cheaper and more entertaining. Also, I won’t have to know that I’m supporting awful companies doing awful things.

By reader Septon

Animal Well screenshot
Animal Well – one of many great indie games this year (Bigmode)

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