Are Indies Kicking Some AAA Developer Ass?
Star Wars Battlefront II

There are many benefits to the AAA side of the gaming industry. We get reasonably consistent and high quality games on a regular basis. They're advertised more aggressively, so we know all about the project and can prepare before it releases. AAA titles are also generally bigger and more involved than their indie counterparts. I'd like to argue that sometimes the “less-is-more” adage might be better for AAA titles though. Some big games are becoming worse than what the little guy produces because of how overly complex they are.

Let's look at a big controversy that everyone knows about. EA added all kinds of microtransactions to Star Wars: Battlefront II. They like to claim that it's the only way they can make their money back from the ramping costs of production. That statement makes it seem like they weren't able to consider what was best for the game. Would Star Wars: Battlefront II have been a better game without all that drama and added fluff in the beginning? It's hard to say at this point, since it's really all we can think of when we hear Star Wars: Battlefront II (whether we'd like to or not). According to EA, the scope of the game was so huge that they needed to add something in whether or not it would make a better game in the end.  


Indies don't generally have this problem, as they are projects created without excess. Indie developers have an idea, and often they can only manage to produce that idea. This is usually due to budget constraints, but it could also be due to lack of time or access to more/better programs/creators. Succinctly, indie devs can only create what they set out to create. They don't have the ability to consider all the extra stuff that the big dogs like EA do.

EA had the option to add things like microtransactions to Star Wars: Battlefront II because they had the finances and the manpower to add it. “Well, this will make us more money, so why the hell not?” Whereas an indie dev would look at it much more closely. “This could make us more money, but do we really want to add it? It's not really the tone we set out for originally.” You'd think having more money and employees would be a good thing, but maybe it's better to keep things small.

Star Wars Battlefront II

Let's look at an example on the opposite side of the spectrum. Indie developer Ocelot Society created a game back in 2016 called Event[0]. This was a first-person exploration game where you spent a lot of time wandering around in, and talking to, a spaceship called Kaizen. If you were lucky, you'd find yourself in Kaizen's good graces, and you could go back to Earth. Event[0] had three different programmed endings. However, a fourth was confirmed almost a year later by one of the developers. Apparently, a bug had occurred in the game that was never caught by the developers, which led to this fourth option being left as a “secret ending.” Here's a case where a game had something extra special in it, but it wasn't even put there by developers. Had they more options, maybe Ocelot Society would have programmed greater than three endings. They didn't, but that led to something even more magical.

Less sometimes is more, especially when it comes to the big boys in the gaming industry. Rather than simply adding things into games because we can, we should return to a simpler manner of thinking. What will make the game the best that it can be? Leave out all the extra stuff you're thinking of adding “just because you can,” unless it'll better the end product. Big companies have more at their fingertips but it doesn't mean they should utilize all of it. This is why indies are often producing better work at this point in time, because they have a clearer dream without all the fluff.

April Marie
April Marie

Contributing Writer
Date: 02/12/2018

blog comments powered by Disqus
"Like" CheatCC on Facebook