Who qualifies as an "indie" developer?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by Anders, Feb 23, 2009.


What qualifies a developer to be called "indie"?

  1. Just one dev, working in her spare time

    8 vote(s)
  2. 2-n devs, working in their spare time

    8 vote(s)
  3. Just one dev, working full time, self employed

    5 vote(s)
  4. 2-n devs, working full time, running their own company

    8 vote(s)
  5. 1-? devs, working full time, working under another name

    1 vote(s)
  6. May not have released a popular game before

    5 vote(s)
  7. May have released a popular game before

    6 vote(s)
  8. Bonus option: I think IL is an indie dev

    4 vote(s)
  9. Bonus option: I do not think IL is an indie dev

    3 vote(s)
  1. Anders

    Anders Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2009
    Co-owner and CTO at Color Monkey
    #1 Anders, Feb 23, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
    Just curios. People tend to like indie developers better than the big bad evil companies, right? I would even go so far to say that TA does too. Thing is, people tend to have different opinions about what's indie and what's not.

    So what do you think? Some of the options above contradict each other so keep that in mind.
  2. WellSpentYouth

    WellSpentYouth Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2009
    iPhone programmer
    App Tech Studios, USA
    I am an "indie" dev! I work after school and by myself. Well, I have a graphics designer, but I am the only coder.
  3. Exit287

    Exit287 New Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    I think an "indie" is any number of developers who are self supporting and produce their own apps. They aren't financially supported by other "corps" and they don't go through larger shops to publish their apps. Not necessarily dependent on the number of employees in the company. I guess that is my definition.
  4. MetaNick

    MetaNick Well-Known Member

    To me, an indie developer is simply a developer that doesn't have the backing of a larger company. For instance, I see iDracula not as an indie game at all because they had the backing of Chillingo who, while not as big as, say, EA, likely provided them with financial and technical support during development.

    Any team that operates without a publisher or parent company counts as indie to me. When Valve produces a game, I'd call that indie because they are independently producing the game, even if they are a very large company. On the same token, if a two man company gets a deal to get their game published by ngmoco, Chillingo, or another publisher, they are no longer indie because they are not independently producing the game.

    But then, I also see little point in classifying one developer as indie or not; it makes no difference in my eyes. I look at games and judge them by what they are, not who made them.
  5. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    An indie studio:
    - Supports itself fully by selling games (and burns personal savings during tough times)
    - Owns the IP of the games they make
    - Is fully owned by the employees (no VC funding)

    There are many independently owned studios, but if they do work-for-hire projects and are dependent on publishers for their wages, obviously the term "independent" does not apply.

    Having a publisher partner who takes the indie games to retail or to consoles does not take away their indie status. World of Goo is an indie game from indie guys, despite having Brighter Minds publish the game in PC retail.

    All of the above definitions are flexible to an extent. Some indie studios do both their own games and work-for-hire projects.
  6. ChaoticBox

    ChaoticBox Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2008
    Toronto Canada
    I wish people would just stop using the word "indie" all together (and not just for games). It rarely means what people think it means, and it doesn't mean what it used to mean (e.g. in the music industry). The dictionary definition of the verb "independent" can easily be twisted to apply to all of the above options.
  7. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    London, Ontario, Canada
    I was about to repeat the VC and IP sentiment, but Frand's statement sums it up perfectly. Though it's a constantly debated subject, and makes a lot of people cry. ;)
  8. Diablohead

    Diablohead Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2009
    Freelancer, PC game developer
    1 more more people working on games in their spare time is what I would count as Indie, once you live off your income you might as well call yourself a business if you can earn that much.
  9. Zwilnik

    Zwilnik Well-Known Member

    same rule as for bands. If you've heard of them, they're not indie :)
  10. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    London, Ontario, Canada
    But if they're no good, why acknowledge them at all? ;)

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