Do you remember when PC gaming was in terminal decline? It was gaming’s own day of days, a ‘squirrel flu’ so irreversible, you were advised to disassemble your PC and bury each bit in its own hole in the garden for fear the prehistoric monster would rise up from the grave. Now it’s the consoles that are at death’s door – one more each children and then its sayonara, try tomorra, nice to know you. Oh and the handhelds or at least all the handhelds that didn’t have the presence of mind to offer a nifty 24 month payment scheme (and a phone).
One factor behind the PC’s stubborn refusal to die quietly is a truly booming indie scene. It’s not only the number of good quality indie titles that’s rising but also their sales. Terraria exemplifies this, coming from nowhere in May, 2011 to sell 630,000 copies in its first 6 weeks, which at an average price of £5 is a cool £3m. I’ll leave you a moment to cry into your tea.
It is an outrageous amount of money for a couple of devs to make but it is, of course, richly deserved. The game is superb, the price generous and the post-launch support excellent. It seems indie devs got fed up sinking years of their lives into games that sank without trace so they started releasing them early and only continuing work if their audience made the right noises. Smart move. Plus its one of those cunning plans with bonus benefits, namely that pirates are stymied and you can fire your PR department cause when you want some attention you can just announce a load of new content. This ploy worked brilliantly for Terraria, which experienced the mother of all spikes after a big update, these are users on Steam:
Pixel-art conquers the AAA behemoth! A David and Goliath tale for the quad-core generation! Anyway nuff of that, go and play Terraria! What’s the idea? Well you start with nowt, not even two pixels to rub together. You dig and chop all the resources you need to build a nice house, a mine and various tools to craft your produce into useful stuff like torches to light the nether regions and harder, better, faster, stronger pickaxes. As you venture deeper, you reach new strata with new enemies and resources and cool loot lurking in chests. There’s no structure at all beyond a day/night cycle with baddies coming out at night and some NPCs who will buy and sell stuff. But despite its modest 2 dimensions, you feel like an intrepid explorer, digging deeper into the unknown, hellbent on a cheap, warm trip to Oz. Plus the graph is persuasive, its like the entire population of Wales feverishly mining…and then going home to play Terraria. Cheap. Anyway i leave you with Terraria’s music, which is a delicious mix of 8-bit, strings and percussion. Dig it!