The Indie Bubble Is Popping. This feels more like “smart guy sees the writing on the wall” than “smug asshole indulges in knee-jerk contrarianism.” (And hey, that’s my job anyway.) The basic argument boils down to this: There’s a finite amount of money to be spent on games, and the number of developers has skyrocketed. Something has to give, and it’s more likely that lots of developers will fail than the amount of money spent on games will grow as quickly as it did during the short-lived explosion* of casual gaming.

That’s not to say that everyone is doomed or that we aren’t seeing some super-neat innovations, just that the industry is going to shake out in a few years to look not very different from the way it did pre-Steam. Maybe a bit less top-heavy.

I think curation and microtransactions and merch could help; see the indie music scene for plenty of examples. Still, the costs of producing mid-tier indie games may end up being unrecoverable in most cases, and that’s a ding-dong shame.

 

* Explosions are by nature short-lived, but it’s still worth emphasizing.