Below I have created a list of indie game development trends we are likely to see in 2015. Many of these trends are existing or older trends which have gained increasing momentum recently and are worth being aware of. Let me know what you think, or if you know of any other trends I can add to the list! Enjoy.
This trend has rolled over from 2014 and will likely continue well into 2015 and beyond with games like 2048, Alto’s Adventure and Radical being perfect examples. The trend is all about flat harmonious colours, simple shapes, clean UI, yet clever and addictive game mechanics.
These kind of graphics are generally easier and faster to produce, lowering game development costs and shorting timelines. So it’s no surprise this trend is being celebrated by indie devs the world over. This trend also allows Photoshop savvy programmers with a little colour coordination to get away with playing artist.
Clean and Friendly monetisation:
Common practices include full screen ads which trick users, game progression designed around IAP, awkwardly positioned banner ads which cause accidental clicks. Users have caught on and are uninstalling these kind of apps in favour of the cleanly monitized games, or even looking to premium paid games to escape the deception.
Games like Crossy Roads have pioneered the new trend into optional unobtrusive video ads, setting a new example and level of expectation from users, and they have 3M to show for it. Countless games are popping up using similarly inspired techniques used by Crossy Road, as well as coming up with their own unique implementations.
One concern with this trend as a player is that many games using this ad system are designing their levels in such a way, that you often have no choice but to watch the ‘optional video ad’ if you are to have any chance of winning or being competitive. Under such circumstances is it really optional?
There was a time when you could make a small fortune by just releasing your game to the App Store. Big companies with huge marketing budgets have since got involved in the race, as well as a gazillions independent developers – completely flooding the market.
Every game you make is a dice roll. If you get lucky and your game is godly, you may get picked up by a popular review site. If not your game will likely sink to the depths of the abyss. Heavy weights like Ubisoft, King and Square Enix are quickly pushing indies out of the top charts with their aggressive marketing tactics and golden handshakes with top review sites.
Sure, with a bit of clever social marketing, persistence and a sprinkle of luck, an indie can make a living. But more so than ever having some kind of marketing budget is becoming common place even in the indie world.
With that understanding and platforms like GoG, Itch.io and Steam creating much better opportunities through services like Greenlight, many indies are changing their launch platform focus to PC. Even Console releases for Xbox Live or PSN can be more favourable, thats if you can fork out the membership fees and jump through the platform’s hoops.
If players find success on PC/console they can then use their revenue to look at funding a mobile port. By that point it will likely have some following and fame, making it more likely to have a successful mobile launch.
Harder games with higher replay:
Hard games have been around since day one, with some of the most brutal games coming from the 80’s. Mobile in the past few years saw an era of babified gaming experiences, filled with tutorials and relaxed learning curves. Over the past year we have seen a return to Balls to the Wall gaming experiences, in part brought to light by the games like Flappy Birds and Super Meat Boy.
Off the back of the popularity of said bird flapping game, the mobile market has seen an explosion of super hard games hitting app stores. This is mainly due to the appeal of the freemium game model and it’s ability to convert high replay cycles and Ad impressions into cold hard cash. Many of these super hard games are now built specifically around freemium, with their mechanics balanced in such a way to allow for high ad serving.
These kind of games are often easier to create, and are able to take advantage of users frustrations to more easily persuade them into making IAP.
The trend is still very much a growing and will likely continue well through 2015 and beyond.
There is some concern to be had though, as many developers are reducing the scope of their games and offering less meaningful experiences to players.
Voxel and low poly 3d models
Through the start of 2015 we have seen an influx of voxel styled games hitting the app and PC game stores, riding in on the wave created by recent super smash hit Crossy Road. I love voxel graphics and developers love them too, as creating and animating voxel models is much easier than high poly models with complex skeletal rigs.
With the introduction of many free and easy-to-use voxel making tools, the style is very much here to stay for the foreseeable future.
I wonder how long will it take before we start yearn for the smooth curve again?
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