AAA vs. Indie Games

Dave The Diver, an ARPG/restaurant sim, has been in early access since October last year and recently saw a full launch on PC’s largest distribution platform, Steam. Soon after launch, the game has already amassed 1M unique players (roughly $20M in rev, not accounting for discounts or early access testers), a peak of 100k concurrent players, and 67k all-time peak Twitch viewers. The game is currently ranked #4 in Steam top sellers, has over 30k “overwhelmingly positive” reviews, and all this from an indie developer unit of Nexon Games called Mintrocket.

AAA content is increasingly becoming a money game – titles like The Last Of Us and Horizon Forbbiden West costing $220M and $215M, respectively, and requiring a further ~$200M for overheads/marketing/etc. – and the number of studios that can afford to put their eggs in a AAA basket are few and far between.

That said, titles like Dave The Diver, Vampire Survivors, and Up Only! show us that there is significant demand for creative indie games. Large developers are becoming increasingly risk-averse and churn out the same gameplay loops with incremental changes + a live ops model. This presents a unique opportunity for indie teams to create unique mechanics, mashup different game genres, and provide players with new experiences.

Nexon is not the most beloved developer, but they are known to be first-movers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an increasing number of large incumbents follow suit and create their own small/agile offshoot studios.

What does this have to do with blockchain gaming? Just remember that if a team doesn’t have $400M+ to spend on a single game, then it probably isn’t going to compete with the other AAA titles in the market. Additionally, pay close attention to teams that are focused on introducing innovative gameplay loops, creating new genres, and are well equipt to prototype-test-repeat.

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