Spiderweb’s Jeff Vogel: “The indie bubble is popping”

Jeff Vogel on the indie bubble

Jeff Vogel, creator of a mountain of indie RPGs such as Avadon and Geneforge, warns that the indie bubble is primed to burst. “I’ve been threatening to write about the popping of the Indie bubble for some time,” Vogel says on his blog. “Everything has finally started to come together. It’s a miserable thing to have to talk about, but the conversation is long overdue.”

It’s a bit gloomy, but he’s not just spouting doom. He does reckon that the current model is unsustainable, though, and that a shakeout is due. 

“The problem is too many games,” Vogel says. After the likes of Minecraft and Braid, leaving big industry jobs or simply never going into them seemed like a good prospect for developers because it was possible to make a highly successful game without massive teams or publisher backing. But so many developers took that path, and now the market is saturated.

“This wouldn’t be a problem if there were a demand, but there’s not,” he continues. “After all, almost 40% of games bought on Steam don’t get tried.” I don’t even want to look at my Steam library right now. If it’s not a game I’ve reviewed, there’s a good chance it’s not been finished. And at least a possibility that it hasn’t been touched, especially if it was bought impulsively or in a bundle.

And on the subject of sales… “As I write this, Humble Bundle is running two weeks of DAILY bundles,” he says. “That’s, like, 3-10 full-length games a DAY. Spend a hundred bucks or so, and you’ll get enough solid titles to keep you occupied for years. You should do it. It’s a bargain. Then you’ll only need to pay full price for the one game a year you really care about, and you won’t need to worry about risking cash experimenting with new developers.

“Then, give it 2-3 years, and you won’t have to worry about new developers, because there won’t be any.”