Doom and Star Wars Devs Creating Their Own Studios Proves That Indie Is The Way Forward

The future of the industry looks indie.

Story Highlights

  • The gaming industry is seeing a gradual move towards smaller, indie AAA studios.
  • Major examples include studios founded by veteran devs such as “emptyvessel” and Giant Skull.
  • It signifies a shift towards more creativity, innovation, and inclusivity in the industry.

The gaming industry is no stranger to blockbuster titles and big-budget studios dominating the landscape. However, recent developments within the industry suggest a shift towards a more decentralized approach to game development. The emergence of smaller, independent AAA studios led by veterans from renowned franchises like Doom and Star Wars best exemplifies this trend.

The establishment of indie studios signifies a new era where smaller indie game studios are poised to shape the future of gaming. The trend of mass layoffs has carried over from last year well into March now. Plus, with the bridge between AAA and indie titles almost gone at this point, I feel like the only way for devs to have full control of their work without the fear of losing their jobs is to go private and make their own small, indie game studios.

A Change In The System

emptyvessel is founded by veterans of “Doom” developer id Software. Meanwhile, Giant Skull is led by Stig Asmussen, the director best known for the Star Wars Jedi series and God of War 3. These groups of seasoned devs decided to branch out and start their own studios to pursue their unique ideas and visions for games. They believe in putting creativity and innovation first, rather than just following what’s already been done.

Nowadays I can’t help but feel like many big game companies are focused mainly on making cash-grab titles. Naturally, this is often at the expense of creativity and the well-being of their developers. But emptyvessel and Giant Skull are different. They want to create games that push boundaries and explore new ideas. And at the same time making sure their small team of dedicated devs feels valued and supported.

By breaking away from the traditional models of game development, these studios are creating spaces where talent can thrive without feeling restricted by corporate interests. They prioritize giving their developers the freedom to express themselves and experiment with new concepts. Which is good because they know that this approach can lead to truly groundbreaking games. I honestly believe that it’s a welcome change from the norm.

At emptyvessel, we take a Developer-First approach to our direction and execution. We understand every innovation in this industry has been led by a developer taking a risk — every new IP, every billion-dollar franchise. Gaming’s next massive hit can come from anywhere.”

-Garrett Young, General Manager emptyvessel. 

Fostering Creativity And Innovation

Smaller indie studios have a big advantage when it comes to nurturing creativity and innovation. Larger companies are usually bogged down by bureaucratic red tape. However, indie studios can give their devs the freedom to dream big and take risks. This flexibility often leads to the kind of birth of fresh, inventive gaming experiences we need these days. I think we can all agree that there’s a lot of recycling in the AAA industry.

What sets indie game studios apart is their approach to development. They don’t focus on rigid structures and top-down management styles. Instead, they value collaboration and open communication. Team members are encouraged to share ideas and work together throughout the creative process. It fosters an environment where innovation thrives, as fewer obstacles block the flow of creativity. Teamwork makes the dream work, after all.

By placing such a strong emphasis on creativity and innovation, indie studios not only produce better games but also create a sense of belonging and pride among their developers. Everyone feels like their ideas are valued and respected. In return, they’re motivated to push the boundaries of what’s possible in gaming even further. This culture of innovation is what makes them such exciting places to work for seasoned devs and newcomers alike.

AAA can sometimes mean AAA dollars… I don’t think you need a couple of hundred people to make a AAA game.”

-Stig Asmussen, Lead Developer Giant Skull

A Focus On Quality Over Quantity

Nowadays, rushed yearly releases and endless sequels often overshadow originality and quality. On the other hand, smaller indie studios are using a different approach. Rather than spreading themselves thin across multiple projects, these studios concentrate their efforts on a select few. This allows them to pour their energy into perfecting every aspect of the game.

From the mechanics that make gameplay engaging to the depth of the storyline that draws players in, every detail is meticulously crafted. This dedication to quality shines through in the final product. It results in games that captivate players and keep them coming back for more. Especially long after they’ve already finished playing. I don’t think it’s a surprise that people like playing games that aren’t a broken, buggy mess on launch.

Empowering Developers And Building Communities

The emergence of more indie studios signals a shift towards supporting and nurturing devs while also fostering inclusive communities within the gaming world. These studios prioritize the happiness and creative freedom of their teams, creating an environment where respect, cooperation, and encouragement flourish. This dev-focused approach not only attracts skilled individuals but fosters a sense of unity and support among developers.

Furthermore, these studios understand the importance of connecting with their player base and listening to their feedback. Through communication and active participation in their communities, these studios establish meaningful relationships with their audience. Indie studios placing players at the forefront of their development process ensures that their games are immersive experiences shared by a passionate community.

A Bright Future For Indie AAA Studios

In conclusion, the rise of smaller indie studios marks a significant shift towards more creativity, innovation, and inclusivity in the gaming world. By daring to go against the grain and focusing on their developers’ needs, these studios are changing the way AAA games are made. It really shows that size doesn’t matter, it’s how you use it that does.

As gamers eagerly await the release of emptyvessel’s and Giant Skull’s first games, one thing is certain: the future of indie games looks promising. It’s being shaped by smaller AAA studios that are pushing boundaries and embracing diversity to create a richer gaming experience for all. So, let’s root for the little guys who are shaping up to be the future of the industry then, shall we?

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Saif is a seasoned video game journalist who works for eXputer. His passion for gaming was nurtured by playing on arcade emulators since his early childhood. Specializing in writing opinion pieces, he dives into the intricacies of the latest titles, the gaming industry, and the wider community. A sucker for good storytelling and a love for immersive worlds, Saif eagerly explores the latest releases while turning his thoughts into engaging and entertaining articles. Writes Opinion Pieces at eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Psychology.

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