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Fewer games with fewer choice... where does that leave the rest of us? Lucky for us, trends and fads tend to run in cycles. Decades ago, the video game market was itself a niche market in the overall entertainment industry. That market turned into a 7.5 billion dollar market in the U.S. alone in 2006. As mentioned above, economic problems with this market, the niche market is quietly making a return for a variety of genres.

There are alternatives to the standard commercial game development scenario. First, Western corporate culture could adopt the Eastern approach to game development as is practiced in Japan. However, in the near future this is unlikely.

ala Doom

The second, and already initiated alternative, is to self-publish using the shareware model via the internet. Whether it is Sudoku, text adventures, space games, platform games, or a combination of several different genres, you can find what you are looking for somewhere on the internet, self-published by an independent developer.

Independent development of software is a difficult path to embark on. As a gamer, I’ve seen plenty of developers over the years disappear from the dotcom market, never to be heard from again. Still others look to develop games on a part-time basis, choosing not to be wholly dependent on development as their sole income. And then there are the long-term survivors of the Indie development scene. These are the single-person or small-team Indie developers that not only know their code, but also have a firm grasp on economics, strategy, and public relations.

Without a doubt, the more successful Indie developers use a formula that is a combination of the above which is referred to as “relationship marketing”. These developers are working overtime on their site’s forum working on customer relations; listening to player feedback and working with the customer to create a better product. The end result of this process generates an alliance between the developer and the gamer. Innovation in development is important to success in whatever the niche the developer is hoping to fill.

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Published on 12 Feb 2008
Written by David Simpkins

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