Until recently, I thought that we could look at the history of independent film as a way of looking at what our future could be. There are some similarities, and it's good that we look at it for future reference.
One thing we can learn from is financing: we are only using very few financing models in games. Project financing is rare to hear about in our industry, since most of our investment comes from publishers or venture capital firms.
The latter, especially, is troublesome, as they have a model similar to software development firms that I believe is not compatible with creative environments.
Even though the public is responding well, they don't necessarily play a game because it comes from an independent studio. In fact, most of them don't know what independent games are. Is this really a problem?
I believe that besides being creative, one of the reasons why independent films are now 15% of the U.S. box office revenues is because there is a significant portion of the audience supporting independent film makers.
We still have open channels on most platforms, but there is nothing that can prevent those channels being closed to independents in the future. The Sundance Film Festival, among others, select films based on merit, and merit only. The media covers them and creates mainstream excitement around those films. Distributors then are forced to pay a premium to get the exclusive distribution rights. Everybody pays their bills, and then some.
How many good independent games have you seen that don't make money? I can count dozens every year. Adding more salt to the wound, if there would a "Big Publisher" push towards the channels independent game makers are using today to get their wares out, it's just going to be even harder to compete.
We need to find a way to create an effective ecosystem to make sure that the good talent finds a way to economic success - including more and more public independent games festivals that have wider remits.
Independent games can also help to the evolution of games as an art form. Games are not accepted as an art form in intellectual circles, because the only games they know about are what are covered in mainstream media.
And mainstream media only focuses on the big violent blockbusters. If intellectual circles start accepting games, the media will start looking at them differently -- as many media editors are part of those intellectual circles -- and then the mainstream will follow.
If we can solve all these issues, the recognition will guarantee the exposure and the distribution for good talent.