Did indies kill the B-game?

Capybara Games president Nathan Vella says rise of indie and downloadable games may have played a part in downfall of middle-market titles.

234 Comments

The fall of the B-game market can be attributed, in part, to the rise of indie and downloadable games, according to Capybara Games president Nathan Vella.

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"We've already seen the bottom drop out of the B-game market. I think a big part of it is why would I play something OK for $40 when I could play three amazing things or two amazing things [for less]," Vella told GameSpot at PAX Prime.

"Maybe independent development killed the B-game. I don't know. I don't think that it's directly [a reason], but I think that it probably played a part," he added. "Like downloadable games in general, because it provides a better experience for a smaller price point."

Vella and Capybara Games are currently working on Super Time Force (2013) for Xbox 360 and roguelike Below as a timed-exclusive for Xbox One in 2014.

Indie and downloadable games may be stealing marketshare from B-games because even the smallest of teams can now match the quality level of much larger developers, Vella said.

"I think one of the most exciting things about now, is that smaller teams can make stuff at a quality level commensurate with 300-person teams," he said. "They're tinier games, they might not last as long, they might not have as many features, they might not push as many polys. But that doesn't matter, in my opinion."

Vella pointed to SuperGiant Games' role-playing game Bastion as an example.

"Bastion is a very AAA indie. It's so polished, it's so tight," Vella said. "If you knew it was made by seven people mostly in a bedroom of a house, you'd be like 'no.'"

As reports surface of big-budget games like Tomb Raider falling short of sales expectations, the indie market can be more regularly profitable, Vella said.

"I think on the independent side, the opportunities are wider than they've ever been to be financially successful."

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Double_Wide

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Nah I don't think so. Its the spoiled consumer base that wants to buy every retail title upon release and them all to be a AAA quality.

Personally I love B-List game titles and indies. They're the games that no one is playing and the fun that everyone is missing out on. Some of the best experience that I've had this generation of gaming has come from B-List titles.

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Vozlov

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@Double_Wide Yeah but how many of those B games did you buy new or at full price at launch?

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counting

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why would you even put a game out knowing it's a "B" game. Stop putting out bad games!!!


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ThAdEa82

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@counting not all devs have infinite money to work with maybe?

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Double_Wide

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Edited By Double_Wide

@counting

Why does every game have to be a AAA title? Some games can be made on a smaller scale and be just as fun if not more.

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pity-the-sadnes

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@counting I agree just make better games and you wont have to worry about sales.

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bennehftw

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@pity-the-sadnes @counting yeah unfortunately it doesn't work out that way. There are plenty of games that are of amazing quality, but don't recoup it back in sales.

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SsangyongKYRON

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Edited By SsangyongKYRON

Dear Mr. Vella, a good game will always show itself in front of everyone. Indie games don't damage B-Games or AAA games, they're just another kind of video game.

Make a good game and don't worry about indies.

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RabidBurp

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There's a B-game market?

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avengerb

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Edited By avengerb

@RabidBurp lol good one


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firedrakes

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Edited By firedrakes

another issue was the we will charge for dlc. that was in the game and lock oh and also for any of the good weapons to

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Vozlov

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The B market died when developers refused to set a decent price point for them, instead charging the same as AAA titles. THQ is the most recent example of this. Churning out games left and right without any attempt at innovation or real substance. Added to that B games complete lack of advertising in some cases, it's a complete no brainer.

The rise of the indie market was simply the last nail in the coffin.

Developers and publishers are the reason the B market died.

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Saketume

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Edited By Saketume

B-games everywhere. Only reason I still call games AAA is because of their budget and graphics (production values).

The gameplay is definitely B in the majority of titles out there.

While audio quality may be high, the soundtracks today, compared to the past, leave a lot to be desired.

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Double_Wide

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@Saketume

I agree but I think they are talking about the games that are made with lower budgets and aren't as heavily marketed

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LegendaryFightz

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Indies are great fun and can be really clever and inventive but (in my experience) you only play them when you've got that quick half an hour gaming session or you're waiting for the next game you want to come. This could just be me but I want something more substantial. However, B-Games aren't good value for money. We need good B-Games to be marketed new between £20-£30 for the market to balance itself out

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Double_Wide

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@LegendaryFightz

Look on Amazon. That's where I get most of my B-titles and they are usually between the price you stated

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datkat

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that's what happens when you make trash like aliens:cm and ask for 60$.glad I got it at the red box for 2$.

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obsequies

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Edited By obsequies

the time competition, everyone wants our time. life's fucked up

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DarkSpidey69

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I think it would have been better if game prices reflected their quality. The B-market would have hit a sweet middle ground, but instead you get games like Hunted: The Demon's Forge selling for the same price as The Last of us or Bioshock.

"Hunted", that quality gave me nightmares. o_O

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Double_Wide

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@DarkSpidey69

That's why you wait for the inevitable price reduction but yeah you are right about the B-Games should have been the same price as the AAA. If the developers know they have a B-title on their hands then sell it for the B-Price for the get go.

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LegendaryFightz

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@DarkSpidey69 I would be ideal if companies did that but what developer would say, "I just made a game that I have spent a few years on but it's a bit shit so I'll put it on the market for less"? It would have to be judged by a third party but it would spiral out of control and mess up the industry

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Hurvl

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@DarkSpidey69 The problem is that quality is determined individually. I've seen people write that they liked Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines. They didn't buy them at full price, but many would say that they wouldn't even play those games if they were free. Companies always believe in their products (it's unprofessional not to do so) and therefore will set a higher price than many would agree upon, based on their interpretaion of its quality. Doing some research will never go out of style.

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Double_Wide

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@Hurvl @DarkSpidey69

You sir just described me to a tee! This is exactly how I approach gaming

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Hurvl

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@Double_Wide @Hurvl @DarkSpidey69 Glad you agree, I'm a chemistry student, we're taught to be sceptic and look things up, so of course I take that reasoning with me when I decide which games to buy. I've got a pretty good intuition/gut feeling and know what I like, so it's never that hard for me to decide whether a game deserves my money or not. I also check which place has the lowest price, but since my backlog swelled, I can afford to wait for the Steam sales.

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jsmoke03

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Edited By jsmoke03

nope...teh graphics and $60 price tag killed the b market. indie owes the AAA developers for that one

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Balo_the_Gamer

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The B market killed itself. Titles that are good rentals or bought used for cheap, were masquerading as triple-A titles and charging $60. The market just can't support that. While the indie scene offers better games for the value 0.99 to $15 average it's no wonder the B market can't survive. I'll predict this, the indie scene is the new B market. And don't take that as an insult to their quality.

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BAM4213

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what are some B games?

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Djmaster214

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all these people talking how garbage indie games are is killing me! indie games litearally got me back into gaming when i thought i was done with it. When everyone i work with only plays madden or the lastest cod it puts a bad taste in your mouth.

sad gems like bastion, super meat boy, limbo, Swapper, stealth inc go unwanted

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Double_Wide

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Edited By Double_Wide

@Djmaster214

I couldn't agree more. Indies and B-List games tend to encompass the very core of why I feel in love with gaming in the first place.

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FranklynStreet

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Edited By FranklynStreet

It's interesting-- in film the B titles are coming back, because film producers realize a) indie titles don't make any money, and b) huge blockbusters, when they don't hit, cost an astronomical bloodbath of cash. But mid-tier film projects can be made on a more realistic budget and not have to gross hundreds of millions to turn a significant profit. Whereas indies don't even figure into the conversation because they can never make that same amount of money.


But in games, you're not dealing with that same marketplace. You're dealing with a smaller, already committed, more in-the-know audience. So a great indie CAN make a ton of money, and can approach the levels of a B title because the passion of the audience is already there. I think the fallout of the B-title market is twofold-- 1) it's the result of a lot of great indies coming out and a lot of gamers willingness to check them out-- no doubt that has bit into the B-titles' potential income, and 2) there were a lot of crappy B titles glutting the market.


Perhaps the solution would simply have been for game devs and studios to be more discerning about their B titles and to produce and market them carefully, instead of throwing a lot of stuff against the wall to see what sticks. Then they wouldn't have had the great, successful B titles going down in flames because they also had the development costs of other failed games tied into their expectations, or have had to compete from within a climate of numerous crappy B titles out there glutting the market and making it harder for gamers to find the great B titles without the devs spending more than the title could afford on marketing.


And upon further thought, I think what's really killed the B titles is piracy, pure and simply. People buy the AAA titles upon release, also with extra perks, because they want it immediately on release. And people buy the indies because they know they're indies and want those game devs to be able to eat and make rent. I'd wager that you'd see the majority of the piracy hits those mid-range titles. Sure, some of it may hit the AAA's, but there are enough people laying out full price to compensate. Not so much with the B-titles. I'd bet a lot of those titles are the ones that pirating gamers thought it was "morally acceptable" for them to steal.

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Hurvl

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@FranklynStreet A game can't be so-bad-it's-good entertaining in the same way that a B-movie can be. A game isn't fun if there isn't something that is well done, while many movies can still be entertaining even when you see how low the ambition level is. Many games that focused on humor were considered bad/uneven and also sold badly because the rest of the game wasn't well made. A game has more parts that need to work together than a movie.

I've never encountered many B-games, but I also rarely buy any games above 10-15 dollars. Game production is also the most expensive form of entertainment, since you can see several movies for the same price as a 60 dollar game.

Ultimately, consumers shape the industry and if there's no demand for a medium priced game, there is no reason to make one. If Indies killed B-games, it's because B-games weren't a good enough business model and good riddance to it.

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FranklynStreet

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Edited By FranklynStreet

@Hurvl @FranklynStreet I don't think you understand what people are talking about as "B games" or "B movies." For the sake of this article and these arguments, people are simply talking about a level down in budgeting from summer blockbusters or AAA titles. This article is saying that the bottom is falling out on mid-range budgeted games, and we're finding ourselves left with only cheap indies and huge AAA titles. It's the mid-range games like Darksiders and Dead Space that are going away. I think when Dead Space 3 was released, they said they'd need to sell something like $7 million copies for there to be another sequel, which didn't happen. This is also the reason the Resident Evil series went into a more generic action game formula with RE6. They need to appeal to a wider audience who aren't buying comparatively niche survival horror games. These are the sorts of games that are going away. Even Tomb Raider was deemed a failure because however many million copies they sold, it wasn't enough to recoup the budget.

So no one's talking about the "bad" B genre (or the video game equivalent) movies here, and you're getting into a totally different subject matter with your post. In fact, if your games are $10-15 dollars, you're probably buying quite a lot of B games along with indies and the occasional severely marked-down, years-after-release AAA title.

Although I'd argue that there are games that are the equivalent of B movies that people enjoy: case in point, Deadly Premonition.

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Hurvl

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@FranklynStreet No, I just wait for Steam sales and typically try to find games that cost 5 euros/6,6 dollars. Only really great titles deserves 10-15 dollars from me. My backlog demands that I don't buy that many games or ones that aren't cheap.

I agree that I didn't realize what people meant with B-games, because it can have different meanings. Budgets are not often made clear, so I didn't know Dead Space 1 was considered a B-game. I don't like extremes and if we're losing games like Dead Space, that's really bad, but I don't see things getting worse as a consequence. It doesn't feel like we've missed out on anything, there are still too many good/great games released to keep up with.

I think both indies and AAA have a part in the death of B-games. They're both too successful. Big studios are all too fixated on high risk, high reward thinking and indies will remain indies.

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Neo_Gamer81

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@FranklynStreet Could not have said it better my self.

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jamvng

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@FranklynStreet good points. Agreed.

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Vodoo

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Indie games just suck (Fez). If I wanted crappy (Fez) pixellated (Fez) garage games (Fez), I'd bust out the old Atari 2600 (better than Fez).

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Double_Wide

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@Vodoo

This is everything that is wrong with gaming today

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

Indies didn't kill the B game, AAA publishers did, by refusing to fund games that don't project to sell 3 million copies.

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Vodoo

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Edited By Vodoo

@Thanatos2k nowadays 3 million copies IS a B-game.

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jamvng

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@Vodoo @Thanatos2k I wouldn't necessarily say so... Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite would be 3-4 million level. I wouldn't say they are B. They are definitely AAA games. Tomb Raider should have been considered successful if not for the mismanagement of Square Enix I think.

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PStrife

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Over-priced B games killed the B games category. Publishers overplayed their hands multiple times throughout this generation by pricing them in the same fashion as the real titles. Psychological burning consumers isn't a good thing to be enforcing.

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psx_warrior

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I just had a thought. The indie games of today would have been considered AAA titles in the past simply because the hardware could only handle today's indie type games. I think this says a lot.

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The_Gump

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Edited By The_Gump

No. Indies didn't kill the B-game. Indie VALUES killed them, and even still; B-games haven't died exactly... it's just that now they have to recognize that indie games are climbing up the ladder, primarily because they don't have smug, asshole execs in suits (who actually know nothing about video games and have nothing but contempt for their player base) calling all the shots.

Indie games are made with love and care by people who like video games.

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Hurvl

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@The_Gump Just you wait and the indie scene will become polluted and corrupted by developers thinking they can profit from the pure, passionate label that indie games have. Even the indie scene will get upstarts and gold diggers, or rather silver/bronze diggers since indie games aren't as profitable. That's what happens to everything that gets too popular, eventually 90 % or more of all indie games will be crap.

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Drizzt_79

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Edited By Drizzt_79

Whatever happened to the "A" and "AA" games?

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Zloth2

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@Drizzt_79 Those levels are.... ummm.... being left open for future use. Yeah, that's the ticket. It totally wasn't an idea from some guy in marketing who thought the whole "XXX" fake rating was a good idea and wanted to copy it to the game industry. No no no, not at all! ;)

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bunchanumbers

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Publishers killed them. Just like how they created AAA titles. Just like how they push developers to break up their completed games to make fake DLC or Day 1 DLC and season passes and microtransactions and timed exclusivity. If it doesn't make $$ then it don't make sense.

Publishers don't budget games anymore with the thought that hey... if the game sells 500k copies its a hit! Just like how Square declared Tomb Raider a failure when it sells 5 million copies.

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Busta

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@bunchanumbers It's big business capitalism. It happens to movies. Movie makes 100 mil? 250 mill over seas? Fail.. no sequel.

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ZeroX91

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No the better quality at a lower price killed the b-game, just compare the Binding of Issac,Spelunky, Minecraft, and Prenumbra (and its relatives) to Bionic Commando or DmC.

It's part of the growing pains of the industry at one time b-games actually had a lower price (and lower quality in most cases) than the the AAA now that's not the case.

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