are video games
that are created independently of the financial backing of a large video game publisher
. These games generally have a small or non-existent budget and are often primarily available online or through friend-to-friend sharing, although in some cases budgets can run in the millions, and indie games have appeared on consoles
and in game stores. The term is a video game industry
analog to independent film
Indie game development
Typically, when indie games are being created, there is an individual or a small team of as many as 10 people, depending on the type of game in question and its complexity. For larger, more complex video games, this usually includes 2D and 3D artists, programmers, musicians, and so on, while other forms, such as RPGs
or Flash games
, may require only an individual effort. These games may take years to be constructed from the ground up or can be completed in a matter of days or even hours depending on complexity, participants, and design goal. Indie games are often developed in spare time and spare space (homes, garages, basements, parties
Before the mid-1990s, commercial game distribution was controlled by big publishers and retailers, and developers of indie games were forced to either build their own publishing company, find one willing to distribute their game, or distribute it in some form of shareware (eg. through BBSs). With the rise of online shopping, it has become possible to sell indie games to a worldwide market with little or no initial investment by using services such as eBay and PayPal.
By the mid 2000s, many indie (computer) game developers have also taken the opportunity to make their games open source, thus rendering the group of possible participants much larger depending on the interest a project generates. This approach enables games to become much more complex as well as to succeed where a closed source version would be restricted due to limited resources (risking the possibility of vaporware).
Indie video games
The origins of indie video games may be traced back to the seventies, when there was virtually no established computer gaming industry
. As video game companies developed they drew talent from this pool of programmers, though at no point actually eradicating it. The two have continued to co-exist. During the 90's, indie games were most commonly distributed as shareware
or shared from friend to friend and therefore known as "shareware games"; nowadays, this term has a more derogatory connotation as indie games are competing with their big-budget corporate brethren.
Indie video games are often grouped together with shareware, freeware and open source software. Indie developers are generally motivated by strong personal interest in the title they are working on, often a niche game that would not be produced by the mainstream. They tend to belong to some sort of community (usually Internet-based) which recognizes developers.