Will We Stroll the Boulevards Of IndieCity?

By Jim Rossignol on December 14th, 2011 at 8:41 pm.


Blitz Games have decided to do something quite ambitious in their foray into the wider sphere of indie game publishing/distribution/production, and that thing is called IndieCity. It aims to be a “one stop shop” for indie gaming, and boasts features such as a downloader client that will both recommend things you might like, and automatically download free games and demos that you might like. It opened for general usage today. More on this below.

We’ve been tracking this project for a while, and you might recall I interviewed project mastermind Chris Swan over here. His ambitions seem to be coming to fruition now, and there’s quite a bit of game up there for us to get our teeth into.

Announcing the end of the public beta today, Swan said: “The fundamental reason for IndieCity existing was the lack of a single destination website that allowed gamers to explore the entire breadth of the indie gaming scene. So I’m already delighted that the variety of the games being sold, even in this early phase, fully backs up our beliefs.” What does it back it up with? Well, 45 games, some of which are interestingly esoteric. Becoming a one-stop shop, of course, means getting hundreds of other developers and their games on board, too, as well as people buying them. It’s something of a gamble, particularly now the indie world seems to be getting “organised” and the cash has begun to flow. Now the real competition – the competition for the limited attention and wallet-span of gamers – takes place.

So it’s fair to say that IndieCity has a lot to prove, and quite a bit of ground to cover, but the project is fascinating, and seems to have the best intentions. Developers get 85% of the cash from sales, and the developer site itself is loaded with tips and stuff from various industry types. Blitz have drawn on their own long experience of being a small studio, and are calling in the favours. Mr Swan even asked that shady Rossignol character for some advice on approaching the press, so that’s in there too. Yes, it’s got a way to go, but there’s definitely something here. Probably worth you taking a look?

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61 Comments »

  1. MythArcana says:

    Interesting idea, but I will never use a client to manage games and/or downloads; s73@/\/\ included. If they go about things like GamersGate does, I’ll give it a good glance…

    • PodX140 says:

      pray do tell what the difference between that series of symbols and the word steam is? Seriously. They both convey the exact same meaning, except one adds the idea that “I’m a hipster/douche who thinks anything making money is evil.”

      Seriously, you people need to grow up. I hate EA, yet I still have no problem saying the name.

    • thristhart says:

      Confrontational tone aside, I agree with Pod. I’d like to hear the honest opinion of someone who does this. Are you avoiding them googling for their own name or something?

    • HoosTrax says:

      What name? “Steam”? Ooops…

      Most of the time, when people do that, it’s meant to be in a derogatory fashion. Like it’s implying that simply mentioning the name of the detested company in question is tantamount to invoking an unholy, defiling curse upon one’s self.

    • Jake Albano says:

      It’s like when Linux users say “Micro$oft”. It doesn’t make you look clever, it just makes you look like a bigot.

      (Linux user here, by the way).

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      No, it’s clearly meant as obfuscation, causing people like me to fail to understand (unless we read it twice).

    • Lambchops says:

      I thought it was just because they’re l33t. Is that phrase still in popular gaming parlance? I lose track of things like that and whether it’s still au fait to put the suffix -zorz randomly onto wordzorz.

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      Still true, almost 10 years later:

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2002/07/22

    • cosmicolor says:

      I think RPS should filter “steam” to whatever combination of symbols is above. Just for one day.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Eh, someone who says ‘Micro$oft” is just saying Microsoft cares more about making a quick buck than a quality product. Not so much greedy as short-sighted.

      I’ve never spelled it that way, I find it uncreative, but you people are acting like it’s a racial slur or something. And then as now, Gabe’s rants say more about Gabe’s prejudices than anyone else’s.

    • Strife212 says:

      I’m the complete opposite.

      I would never pay for a digital download that wasn’t linked to some kind of client, because then it doesn’t feel like I own anything, it’s just a random exe that could get lost.

    • mendel says:

      @Strife212:
      If the game gets “lost”, you just re-download it from the site.

      This rarely happens, though, because I have managed to organize my games on my harddisk due to the marvelous discovery of “folders”, whcih somehow work with some sort of “explorer” or “file manager” client.

    • Ovno says:

      And infinate hard drive space it seems, plus never needing to format in case of virus/malware, plus never experiencing a complete hardware meltdown which fries your drive, need I say more?

    • Gnoupi says:

      And entirely depending on Valve’s will. I mean, I’m also a big fan of having my games on Steam, for convenience.

      But it’s clearly weird to think that you are more secure having your games there than on a storage dvd or hd, that you keep at home.
      For all we know, they could stop all service tomorrow, and your Steam library would be inaccessible.

      So I agree that it’s easier to manage all games on the same list (especially when you have more than 100), and that Steam is very convenient. But it can’t beat personal storage, as you have no control over what they give you access to.

    • pipman3000 says:

      why are people paranoid that steam might shut down forever one day with no warning at all

      do they think like steam is like waiting for them to buy tons and tons of games so they can gain your trust with reliable service and great discounts then just when they let your guard down WHAM they shut down steam forever. because trashing your main source of income is totally worth messing with the tinfoil hat people

    • datom says:

      Because it will. Most likely, one day the client will stop working on your OS – either your OS will be too old or too new for it. Doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play your games anymore necessarily, but I woiuldn’t come back in 10 years and expect it to run on Windows XP, and I wouldn’t expect Windows XP games to run on super-future iterations of Steam.

    • pipman3000 says:

      unless you’re the kind of person who desperately clings to an outdated OS that won’t even effect you.

      oh no i might have to upgrade my computer to play newer games this has never happened before i’m playing skyrim on my commodore64

      btw you still didn’t tell me why paranoid internet people constantly worry about steam suddenly shutting down over night. you having to upgrade your ancient computer to play newer games isn’t the same thing :/

      ps: my copy of dungeon keeper 2 i got my gog barely works maybe i should put on my tin foil hat and start posting about how evil gog is

    • Zelius says:

      @datom,

      Sure, Steam might shut down one day. Yet, I find it far more likely that the website of a small indie developer shuts down before Steam, causing you to no longer be able to re-download the game. If Steam is still around by then, and you have the game on Steam, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you can re-download it there.

      @mendel,

      Yeah, organizing in folders is great and all, until you run out of disk space. And if you’re like me, you reformat your hard drive at least once a year. If the website of this indie developer is no longer around at some point, that brings me back to my point above.

  2. Juan Carlo says:

    So, basically, Desura with way less content?

    • Strange_guy says:

      ^ This.

      Pretty much the only difference is no mod support, aiming to have all indies (so no quality control I guess) and the auto downloading suggestion thing. Not really convinced I will ever bother use it, especially when I already have two game clients to worry about.

  3. cgf says:

    Might be nice to have a platform that’s less restrictive on the content, but then again it’s yet another platform we have to keep track of.

    Also, the missing rounding breaking the layout is fun:
    Avg: 3.6666666666667/5 Stars

  4. HoosTrax says:

    From their website:
    “IndieCity aims to have ALL indie games; by that we mean that we want Game Jam games and big indie titles from established indie devs. We want games that question whether they are games or whether they are art.”

    Great for indie developers.

    Potentially terrible for customers trying to find that diamond in the rough if that sort of a business model means allowing anyone to publish. This is why XBLIG is a disaster.

    • Shuck says:

      That doesn’t sound great for indie developers, either – at least not the serious ones. If their work gets lost in a swamp of poor-quality games, then it’s not a useful publishing platform.

    • novemberdobby says:

      From an interview: “Any developer can pop a game on IndieCity. A peer review process is designed to ensure the cream rises to the top.”

      I guess they do have some plans to stop this sort of thing from happening.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Potentially terrible for customers trying to find that diamond in the rough if that sort of a business model means allowing anyone to publish.

      I don’t get this. There are tons of games on Steam that I don’t want to play. If the Steam interface was the only tool I had to learn about games, I simply wouldn’t play games. Instead, I rely on websites (RPS and others) and word of mouth to link me to the worthwhile ones. (And, hey, if you’re posting here, I guess you do too).

      Steam is a great distribution service. As a service for determining which games are worth my time, they would be terrible. But thanks to the magic of hyperlinks, there’s no reason for those to be the same service!

      Just make sure the games don’t have any viruses. That’s all the gatekeeping we need.

  5. Mike says:

    This looks good. It feels weird to have a site like this that is so brazenly commercial, yet also indie (of course, some indie games are very commercially successful and this is great, but I can’t imagine some of the broken prototypes that get shared around ever making it onto the site).

    I guess it’ll end up representing the top end of the indie world and perhaps not so much the sprawling masses underneath. But it’s a nice idea.

    • Bishop says:

      Did you look at the games available? It’s got some pretty terrible games in there already. I don’t think ‘My First Flash Game’ is going to have trouble getting in. Infact I think I saw that one on the front page, made by an up coming 12 year old developer with a 30 day free trial and a tutorial.

    • phlebas says:

      So the kid sells a copy to his mum and maybe impresses a few of his school mates by being on a real online game store, gets encouraged, maybe his next game is better, maybe one of the ones after that is downright good, maybe he ends up being the next Notch or Carmack or whoever. Meanwhile the rest of us buy some of the more polished games and nobody loses.

  6. Vinraith says:

    such as a downloader client that will both recommend things you might like, and automatically download free games and demos that you might like.

    Nothing creepy or intrusive about that, no sir.

    Clients suck. That is all.

  7. skinlo says:

    Hmm, don’t like the idea of stuff automatically downloading games and demos for me.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Yeah, I have a feeling they’ll back down from that one really quickly. Well, maybe not, but then they risk losing customers to what they probably market as a ‘service’.

  8. Skabooga says:

    Wow, most of the games seem priced pretty low. Only 7 of the 45 are $10 or more by a hasty count.

    With the exception of TRAUMA, I haven’t heard of any of these games, so they must be REAAALLLYYY indie (well, not really, I’m probably no more knowledgeable about the scene than the next guy).

  9. RobF says:

    I’m still not sold on it. I wasn’t sold when the only reason anyone offered to be on Indie City was because Indie City wanted everyone on Indie City and to have all the games. Entirely unintentional, I know, but still, that’s not very attractive to anyone – unless you’re Indie City.

    I’ve already got a Steam so I don’t need another client, I don’t *want* another client and I especially don’t want or need an automated recommendation engine (I break these things constantly, Last.fm gave up the ghost, Genius doesn’t even know where to start and Steam just gave up and offers me DLC for stuff I’ve already bought), I’m in the market for stuff that’s curated by humans – hence RPS/Indiegames.com/Twitter all serve a better purpose than dumping rando-demos down.

    That’s as a customer. As a dev, I don’t want any DRM, I don’t want to waste my time with peer review systems or community review systems, I don’t want to give anyone else a cut of my cash unless I have to or there’s a tipping point where it becomes worthwhile to do so. I don’t care for achievements but if I did, I’d just add them anyway and my games aren’t suited to online high score battles so again, no use to me there. Even when they were offering the “we get x many games, you can have 100% of the monies” thing it was a case of “but I already do get 100% of the monies!”

    I kinda wish they’d offered me just -one- compelling reason. I know I’m not exactly everyone else in that I scour lots of forums and things but right now, the one thing I’d value more isn’t another storefront or another client, it’s better curation. And that’s not Indie City’s modus operandi.

    It just seems to exist to deal with a problem that, well, I won’t say doesn’t exist but certainly, it’s not that big a deal.

  10. Suits says:

    I still fail to see how this is contributing in any way.. must be me.

  11. Cal_74 says:

    From the EULA:

    6.1. You may terminate this IndieCity EULA at any time by deleting and removing the Product from your personal computer and destroying your copy of the Product in your possession. This IndieCity EULA will terminate automatically (but without prejudice to any accrued rights of IndieCity or Licensor) if you fail to abide by any of its terms and conditions. IndieCity and / or Licensor may additionally, at its discretion, give you notice of termination of this IndieCity EULA in the event that it becomes aware that you are failing to comply with the terms and conditions of it. In that event, you must immediately destroy and erase the Product and all and any copies in your possession or control and stored on any media whatsoever and on request certify that you have done so.

    This means that I’ll pass and continue my indie shopping via the DRM-free bundles (and since I can finally play Super Meat Boy thanks to the Humble Bundle, I’m not in a hurry).

    • Er00 says:

      That’s the download client EULA, there is no such EULA over the games themselves unless the developer has specified it (we provide a lightweight authentication they can use but are by no means forced to), so the games are not bound by DRM by default.

    • Cal_74 says:

      It looks better then.

      Regarding the lightweight activation, is it online activation or via a code? If the former, will it be visible in the game description if it has this DRM attached to it or not?

    • Er00 says:

      You can currently see whether a game uses IndieCity Extras, but this can encompass any combination of the authentication (which is online activation, and something I should have mentioned before is that if you fail the authentication the dev chooses what to do, so they can allow you to play anyway, or make it so you have to auth every month to continue playing, or give you all pirate hats, or prevent you playing altogether), leaderboards, or achievements (and potentially other features in the future as we expand what we offer to devs in our SDK).

      I suspect that it’s actually something gamers care about quite a bit, so it might be worthwhile me seeing whether we can get a field for devs to state whether or not they’re using any kind of authentication so you can see that on the game page. I’ve made a note to discuss that tomorrow with the team and see what we can come up with. :)

    • Cal_74 says:

      I suspect that it’s actually something gamers care about quite a bit

      At least, the kind of gamers who may be interested in supporting indie devs. That’s one of the reasons projects like GOG or Humble Bundle face such success. I’ve got a whole set of games stored on my HD and I know that whenever I want (be it now or in 2 years) and wherever (with or without access to Internet), I’ll be able to install any of those and play it directly.

  12. Er00 says:

    The automatic downloads are entirely optional, they’re there as a convenience if you should want them but you’re by no means forced to use them.

    Those people questioning the use of a client, the reason we went for a client was that it reduces our overheads and allows us to give a higher revenue share than we would have otherwise been able to give.

    Those saying they don’t see the purpose of IndieCity, well…I’m not sure I can give much more than was stated in the article but basically as devs and as gamers we have found that there are no sites which function as a complete indie game site which doesn’t half make discovering good games difficult. Hell, one of my favourite games ever I literally found by asking someone at a LAN party what they were playing because it looked interesting, so I’m totally sold on a system which aims to get as many games as possible and then displays them to you based on what it thinks you specifically will enjoy.

    PS. In case it’s not obvious, I work for IndieCity. (Just realised I should probably point that out :D)

    • Cal_74 says:

      Hi,

      I appreciate the concept and find it really interesting since most of the games I play those days are developed by indie devs. That’s why such an EULA (see previous comment) which looks more like an EA/Ubi/Activision text seems out of place.

  13. Xaromir says:

    I try it tomorrow just to support indies, but in the long run i give it exactly 0% chance of having any meaningful success. Steam is huge by now, anyone who wants a considerable piece of that pie will be in for a hard time i believe; EA tries that by force with BF3 (aka that BF that i will never play) for example. Still – good luck (and i’m honest when i say that).

    • HoosTrax says:

      The niche they’re filling is being all-inclusive. Which Steam is not, thank god.

      I can be fairly assured when I browse Steam that all of the games are of a relatively high standard, and I don’t have to wade through a bunch of half-baked, derivative copycat games.

    • MrDanke says:

      Let’s be fair to IndieCity here.

      EA’s Origin is trying to compete with Steam, yes, but it doesn’t know how to do it. Origin is made by a company that really doesn’t give a shit about things that aren’t money. Valve isn’t perfect, and customer support in Steam may be a nightmare, but Steam currently more or less works and doesn’t treat everyone like some kind of money dispensing unit.

      IndieCity doesn’t look like it’s trying to compete with Steam at all. It’s more of a parallel service. You buy most games from Steam, you buy these games that aren’t good enough for Steam on IndieCity.

      The thing that gets me about IndieCity, is that they appear to allow complete garbage in. A lot of these, at a glance, look like the sort of awful flash games you’d typically find on Newgrounds or something.

      Additionally, something that bugs me even about indie games on Steam, is that don’t you kinda lose your independence when you allow someone else to sell your game for you, and keep a chunk of the profits? Isn’t the point of indie games that they’re made and distributed by the little guy, who hopes to become the not so little guy?

    • HoosTrax says:

      Sure you can be an indie dev who sells only from their own website. Spiderweb Software did it for years, putting out high quality games the old fashioned shareware way.

      But for the most part, giving Steam a cut of their sales is far, far outweighed by the access they’re given to Steam’s tens of millions of customers. They’re also not giving up independence in the same way they would be by being published by a company providing funding — Steam doesn’t offer any guidelines as far as how a dev’s game is supposed to shape up. It’s not their business to tell a dev what kind of game they want them to make.

      Plus if you were truly independent, much of your time would be bogged down in managing your own website, forum, online store, etc.

    • RobF says:

      “Additionally, something that bugs me even about indie games on Steam, is that don’t you kinda lose your independence when you allow someone else to sell your game for you, and keep a chunk of the profits?”

      On a technical level there’s always someone skimming something off (be it processing fees or whatever), it’s just a matter of how much and what you get in return for that.

      The beauty and the allure of Steam is the trade off for their cut is the millions of eyeballs Steam has. So if anything, it enables you to be more independent in future if you’re on there and you succeed (theoretically, obviously!).

    • Consumatopia says:

      It makes total sense for Indies to be on Steam. It isn’t like the App Store for iOS, where once your game is rejected, all the time you spent coding it for iOS is wasted. Steam sells PC and Mac games, if won’t sell it, you just take it anywhere else that sells PC and Mac games.

      OTOH, I can’t see why anyone selling on Steam, even exclusively, wouldn’t ALSO have their own website, forums, twitter, social network accounts, etc. Steam isn’t going to market your game for you.

  14. Sic says:

    I will never understand why anyone thinks it’s better to do things like this in a client. There is no reason whatsoever not to do this in a browser. Everything is moving towards being browser-based, yet somehow, the gaming industry is moving backwards.

    Baffling.

  15. BooleanBob says:

    Hold on, so they’re selling indie games – individually?

    It’ll never catch on.

    • terry says:

      Surely that would be indie-vidually?

      I’d get my coat but John Walker pushed me over in the snow and took it.

  16. Craig Stern says:

    @Jim: I can’t recall if you guys have covered Indievania before, but they’re doing a similar thing to Indie City. You might want to give them a look. Indie Pub, too.

  17. Snargelfargen says:

    Before the end of 2012, there will be a client that manages all your games from different electronic retailers. Calling it now.

    This is also why I don’t purchase software from any new distributors. I already have accounts with GoG, Steam and Gamersgate. I just don’t want the hassle of remembering more passwords or installing software, even if I sometimes see better deals elsewhere.

    • mendel says:

      The unified client will only come with market unification, i.e. the small players either unite or get bought up or disappear.

      Also, Gamersgate doesn’t have a client (though it could).

  18. fdhdfhf says:

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  19. Frank says:

    Well, if they get a good recommendation engine and make it more comprehensive than TIGDB, then they’ll have something. Also, if they don’t include free games that the devs aren’t interested in promoting (e.g., Rescue the Beagles and CCW by nenad), then the Giant Bomb wiki and mobygames will serve as much more comprehensive catalogs of indie games.

    • RobF says:

      It’s running a fair whack out of date as Tim doesn’t have time to update it anymore but there’s also the big indie archive that used to house all the games featured on Indiegames.

    • Frank says:

      Cool. Thanks, didn’t know about that

  20. pupsikaso says:

    Jim, you should talk about how long and convoluted the process to download the games is. It took me about 15 minutes going from one redirected site to the next, creating accounts, inputting my credit card and address details in…

    But once everything was set up it’s actually quite good.
    Still, I wish there was an option NOT to have them save my credit card details. Not with all the recent hackings everywhere.

    • Er00 says:

      If you don’t want Worldpay to save your details you can hit the “Worldpay One-Off Payment” button rather than “Create Futurepay Agreement” button. We don’t store the details on our side, that’s all handled through our payment processor but you don’t have to save the details, you can make one-off payments if that’s preferred. :)

      Also, sorry you found the process so lengthy to buy a game, if you have any feedback on specific parts which took the bulk of the time that would be handy so we can try and streamline the process a bit!

  21. mendel says:

    The biggest indie game collections these days must be Kongregate (>50.000 games) and Newgrounds. They do use social metrics to separate the wheat from the chaff: because playing the games is free, lots of people do, and thus it works very well.

    I couldn’t see the same sort of thing working as well for a pay site (the number of ratings for any given game on GamersGate is comparatively small), and I certainly am not likely to pay money for games that that are as good or worse than what I see on Kongregate: which, from the looks of it, includes the majority of the current IndieCity content, but then I don’t really know because I don’t want to pay to find out.

  22. phlebas says:

    So – has anyone actually tried any of these games? Found any gems? Anything worth grabbing while the launch offer’s still on, or are we all just buying bundles at the moment? Is Mobiloid as interesting as it looks?