Should indie games belong in retail stores?
Let me first answer your question with another question: why not?
I was reading a blurb on RockPaperShotgun about a developer who put an indie game Divinity to retail and sold to a tune of 100,000 copies. That’s nothing to sneeze at. With Terraria and Minecraft looking to also release via real-world boxed copies, it begs the question of when should these games publish and take advantage of brick-and-mortal stores?
Sure, online distribution is pretty much what makes indie games viable. You are given unlimited shelf-space and your store is accessible to the world. There are still limitations though, its very hard to get attention on the internet. There are so many indie games out there these days that it makes my head spin sometimes, so part of the problem with that unlimited shelf-space is that its too big to digest in one look. Having a hard copy in the store makes it stand out from the rest, because shelf-space there is very limited.
Another reason I feel like this is a great idea is because for those of us fans who do indeed like the occasional hard-copy of a game its a great purchase. Throw in a couple of goodies that fans will like and you at least have me sold on more than a few indie titles.
From a business perspective one has to imagine that window shoppers who frequent gaming retail stores probably purchase at least a few games on impulse. That’s not so much the case on the web where a quick youtube video review or a metacritic search can give any uninformed shopper all the details they need about their decision very quickly. I’m not saying indie games should trick people into buying their games, but its just something to point out. Many gamers aren’t the gaming news carnivores that we sometimes are, so a little nice boxart can be enough to sell them.
I do have a quick idea: start packaging those neat little indie bundles. Even if its something to just distribute at big gaming events like PAX or E3, I think this would be a nice fan service and a way to attract some outside customers.
So get up on it indie game makers. You’ve made your stake and now its time to reap the benefits. Start getting those business suit people to sell, sell, sell and all that good stuff….in reality I think this is what would turn most developers away from retail sales, so play it smart. It may be a much better idea to pool resources together, possibly get a friendly third-party publishing company involved who won’t steal your soul. I’ve seen the good things that can happen already with the Humble Bundle as well as other bundle sites, so now its just time to take it to the next level.