While AAA Gaming Stuck in Safe Zone, AA/Indie Games Are On Creativity Roll

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Much Cheaper & Taking More Risks For Creativity!

Story Highlight
  • AAA studios are stuck in a rut, making sequels and remakes, which are safe bets financially but stifle innovation.
  • On the other hand, indie studios create unique games with fresh ideas, stories, and gameplay mechanics.
  • Indie and AA games like Hi-Fi Rush and Helldivers 2 prove there’s a market for original games, even with lower budgets.

The gaming world is massive, filled with mindblowing experiences and amazing graphics, entertaining millions globally. But behind all the flashy games and big marketing, there’s a troubling pattern: the AAA industry’s obsession with playing it safe.

This is where indie and AA studios step in. Indie developers lead the way in creativity without the pressure of big corporations. Here, innovation is key, and developers can freely try out fresh ideas, unique gameplay, and fascinating narratives.

Why it matters: Major AAA studios mostly churn out sequels, remakes, and familiar franchises. While these bring in money for the studios, they squash innovation and leave gamers craving new and fresh experiences.

The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered
The Last of Us Part 2 Was Remastered By Naughty Dog In Less Than Three Years

Same Old AAA Formula

In the AAA world of late, we’re seeing a lot of sequels that don’t bring much new to the table besides better graphics and predictable stories. Look at all the remakes flooding the market lately.

While it’s nice to revisit old favorites, there are too many of them. Instead of investing in fresh ideas, resources are poured into recycling old ones. AAA franchises like Resident Evil, The Last of Us, Spider-Man, Final Fantasy, etc, are consistently churning out remakes or sequels.

Game of the Year awards are now considering remakes, indicating a concerning trend. Fortunately, many gamers, including myself, believe remakes should not qualify for any award shows.

This risk-averse approach probably stems from the financial pressures faced by AAA studios. Big-budget productions come with hefty price tags, and studios are understandably hesitant to gamble on untested concepts.

The pressure to deliver a surefire hit often leads them down the well-trodden path of sequels and established franchises. Fortunately, some AAA studios are not afraid of creating new IPs and fresh experiences.

Take CDPR, for example: after the success of The Witcher 3, the studio shifted its focus to developing Cyberpunk 2077, a new IP. Now, the Polish studio confirmed they are working on another new IP, distinct from The Witcher and Cyberpunk, calling it “Project Hadar.”

Resident Evil 4 leon kennedy
AAA Studios are Relying Too Much on Remakes & Remasters.

Indie & AA Games are a Breath of Fresh Air

Indie developers have the freedom to explore endless creativity.

Without worrying about money as much, they can chase their artistic dreams and try out new gameplay ideas. This freedom has sparked a wave of original and imaginative games, expanding what video games can offer.

Consider Neon White, a game that blends lightning-fast card-based combat with angelic bureaucracy, or Hi-Fi Rush, a stylish action-adventure title where the world reacts to the rhythm of the soundtrack.

These are just a few examples of the audacity and inventiveness that indie studios bring to the table. Hi-Fi Rush burst onto the scene out of nowhere and surprised everyone who played it. The game was a commercial success and encouraged Bethesda to take more risks in the future.

Indie games are not just about outlandish concepts, though. Titles like Undertale and Hollow Knight showcase the power of storytelling in games while offering equally compelling gameplay.

Undertale’s heartwarming narrative challenges traditional notions of player agency, while Hollow Knight’s hauntingly beautiful world and Metroidvania-inspired gameplay create an unforgettable experience.

Elsewhere, last year’s Lies of P was a refreshing take on Souls-like, making it more enjoyable than offerings like Lords of the Fallen from AAA developers.

Hi-Fi Rush
Hi-Fi Rush Shocked Everyone with its Fast-Paced Gameplay.

The Importance of Taking Risks

By relying on established formulas, AAA studios fail to tap into the potential of new audiences and fresh ideas. Meanwhile, indie games show that being innovative pays off creatively and financially.

Look at Palworld, an indie game that made billions in profit with a development budget of only $6 million. Helldivers 2, a recently launched AA game, sold 8 million copies one month after launch.

The success stories of indie darlings like Palworld, Helldivers 2, and Hades demonstrate that gamers are hungry for experiences that challenge the status quo. These games have earned praise and made money, showing there’s a demand for creative and well-made games, no matter the budget.

Big AAA studios have a chance right now. If they take a page from indie developers’ books and get creative, they can revive their games and attract new audiences. This doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning established IPs altogether.

Franchises can be revitalized with bold new directions and creative takes on familiar concepts. For example, Santa Monica Studio practically changed God of War in 2018, yet it retained the franchise DNA.

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