Is the Indie Video Game Market Oversaturated?

From AAA to Indie: The Changing Landscape of Gaming. Indie Games Take Center Stage Amidst AAA Fatigue.

It’s fair to say that the AAA market isn’t what it used to be. From players growing weary of monetization tactics to the influx of unfinished and unpolished releases, AAA gaming looks less appealing than ever. And let’s not forget the $70 price tag that often feels unjustified. In light of this, the AA and Indie markets have stepped in to showcase what players have been missing. Palworld and Helldivers 2 stand as shining examples of budget-friendly games that outshine many AAA releases this year, with more on the horizon. While this shift is welcomed by consumers willing to explore budget games, it’s undoubtedly a stressful time for Indie developers.

By now, you’ve likely heard about the discourse surrounding the developer of Potions: A Curious Tale. If not, let me summarize. Developer Stumbling Cat (or Renee Gittins) released a heartfelt video expressing her frustrations after pouring a decade into developing her game, only to see it buried by EA’s 11-game release and subsequently pushed out of the new and trending section. The reception to her video has been divisive, but amidst this, Eastshade Studios released a video addressing the issue with tact. While I encourage you to watch the full video, the important point to note is that marketing doesn’t matter if your game isn’t marketable.

Stumbling Cat Developer TikTok


Thanks, EA. In one fell swoop, you managed to bury all of my hard work on marketing Potions: A Curious Tale. #gamedev #indiedev #ea #internationalwomansday

♬ original sound – Renee- Potions: A Curious Tale

In the case of Potions, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon it under normal circumstances. None of the Indie game YouTubers I follow mentioned it, and I certainly wouldn’t have seen it through an ad. However, after her video gained traction, I gave it a closer look. It became evident that this game wouldn’t rival the likes of Hades or Hollow Knight, even after playing the demo. While others may enjoy it, as someone who often recommends Indie games, I recognize a hard sell when I see one. I’d go as far as to say that this game wouldn’t have garnered the attention it did without that TikTok video, but even with the boost, it isn’t exactly selling like hotcakes.

Another pitfall Indie games often face is being lost in the crowd. Despite their diversity, certain genres, like the Metroidvania genre, risk oversaturation. For every Hollow Knight or Ori of the Blind Forest, there’s a Timespinners, Record of Lodoss War, or Ultros. While each game mentioned is fantastic in its own right, the genre is well-trodden ground. Eventually, players seek something new. These challenges underscore a larger issue: oversaturation. In 2023, Steam saw a staggering 13,790 Indie releases compared to just 181 AAA titles. While this abundance caters to diverse tastes, it poses a challenge for visibility and success.

Despite these pitfalls, Indie games offer a unique opportunity to reshape gaming culture. As disillusionment with AAA titles grows, players are increasingly open to exploring Indie offerings. From platformers like Pepper Grinder to FPS games like Warhammer 40K: Boltgun, there’s something for everyone, often at a fraction of AAA prices.

Every Indie game I’ve named here is worth checking out and there are hundreds more. But this is a harsh side of the industry, too.Being called “Indie” already comes with a stigma of cheapness and lacking quality, so coming out the gate with a good impression is important. As successful as a lot of Indies are, there are so many more that get buried or just fail. To the players, be a little more curious. There’s some really good games to experience and I implore you to just keep an open mind. I promise, games don’t have to be hyperrealistic with a giant budget and a cash shop to be good. As the AAA market continues to slowly deteriorate, I ask that you give Indies a shot. You may find your new favorite game for only $20.

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