Twitter and Unity: What impact could their cases have on the independent scene?

Twitter and Unity: What impact could their cases have on the independent scene?

Twitter and Unity

The recent Twitter and Unity cases, even if traveling on different levels, are likely to have a big impact on the world of video games, especially on the independent scene, which is already not doing too well. Let's try to take stock of the situation and see why the so-called indieapocalypse may not manifest itself as a spectacular explosion or a sublime and ineluctable destructive phenomenon, but be a slow and painful death, which many may not notice.

An abused scene

The indie scene is constantly being abused, despite the industry's proclamations of benevolence One of the constants of the video game industry is the abuse meted out to independent developers, who in addition bargains were snatched up, chewed up and then spat out as soon as they could be replaced with more profitable forms of business. Always used as a stopgap, they are each time forced to suffer unheeded by the changes in the sector or in the tools that have apparently been put at their service, but which often have mostly made use of them. Think, for example, of the birth of mobile stores: who took care of populating them when the big publishers still didn't want to touch them even with a stick? Over time that immense forge of ideas, full of incredible promises and exceptional applications, has been occupied by free-to-play products and their insatiable voracity, so much so that master Jeff Minter, very active on mobile in the more experimental period , he said about it: "It breaks my heart to see the video game industry adopt more and more byzantine and scam strategies, designed to milk money from as many people as possible." In all of this, independent developers have found themselves out of the game, unable to sell their works, even at very low prices, in stores now in the hands of giants who have made billions by exploiting the weaknesses inherent in human psychology and who can afford to have the maximum visibility, spending millions on marketing.

Make way for the bullies!

Certain experiments and certain concepts can only pass through independent productions. What happened in the mobile market is not an isolated case: the indies founded and supported the digital environments of various consoles, only to be marginalized when the big publishers saw that the road was now well paved and began to make their way with millions of dollars of investments to take the best places . They helped platforms like Steam grow, only to be abused in every way by Valve, including inadequate tools, zero visibility, flawed algorithms that favor only the big names and a selection system that allowed thousands of junk games to crowd the ' list of new releases, depriving developers without marketing money of even the minimum exposure guaranteed by the launch. In short, they have suffered and continue to suffer what we would not hesitate to define as real acts of bullying.

Yet "indies" play an essential role for the industry, which is to lead the way for new sectors, making them alive and interesting, so as to attract the first masses of users, those who will form the nucleus from which they can develop. Think, for example, of how many studios are supporting the VR headset market with games full of enthusiasm for technology, which often have very little prospect of return.

The big publishers are careful not to venture into the unexplored territories of the medium, often limiting themselves to proclaiming their love for innovation after launching the umpteenth sequel to a franchise that may have existed for twenty years. The bigger they are, the more you can be sure they will come later, when they start having securities, trying to compensate for their initial absence with the brute force of money. Let us take an example of the enthusiasm for battle royale, a genre made autonomous by a very small studio at the time and by a game that aimed to sell a few tens of thousands of copies (PUBG), a genre which was then engulfed by Epic Games (Fortnite), Electronic Arts (Apex Legends) and Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty: Warzone) has become a land of conquest for dozens of other medium-large publishers, with often rambling launches, made just to make up the numbers. Or think of the MoBAs, born from a mod, developed around the success of a title from a then small Riot Games and then became a hunting ground for Western and Chinese giants.

Unity, an engine for the ads

The indie scene is practically the only one in which we continue to experiment The Unity and Twitter cases, which have risen to the headlines in recent days, could become yet another brick lifted from under the feet of independent developers who , for different reasons, could create enormous difficulties for many. Unity is a graphics engine widely used by medium-small studios that was able to grow in its first years of life thanks to them. Despite the basic crudeness of some of the solutions adopted in the past, which created quite a few problems for anyone who wanted to attempt the development of medium-large projects, the growth of Unity is closely linked to that of the mobile stores, with independent developers having been able to count for years on an affordable and accessible technology to carry out their works. With the advent of former Electronic Arts John Riccitiello as CEO of the company, however, things have changed. Riccitiello is considered one of the most rapacious men in the video game industry, the one who has disintegrated dozens of development studios under Electronic Arts and who doesn't look at anyone when he smells a deal, acting like a steamroller. An apparently nicer Jack Tramiel. The arrival at Unity has led to a total change of focus of the company which, from a supplier of a precious software technology for developers, has begun to deal more with advertising, with systems integrated right into Unity first and now aiming at the metaverse, derailing the company's image, which has become less reactive towards the independent scene to which it owes its existence and initial success. A recent report by Jason Schreier for Bloomberg highlighted the angularity of the character and the effects he is having in defining the new objectives of the engine, which see video games increasingly in the background. After all, he himself called idiots those who don't plan the monetization system before the games themselves ...

Twitter and the dissolution of communities

Elon Musk will be the antichrist of the scene independent? Another blow to the independent scene could come from Twitter, i.e. from the post-acquisition Twitter of Elon Musk. The first moves of the self-centered and childish Tesla tycoon, between paid blue checks, mass layoffs and irresponsible utterances, have made fearing the worst for the social network of Twitter, causing a small migration to Mastodon, several abandonments and, in general, allowing all its regular visitors to breathe an atmosphere of arrival at the end of the line, which has aroused many concerns in the environment. Why do indie developers fear the worst? The reason is simple: Twitter is excellent for quick communications and for short announcements, i.e. for doing that cheap marketing which is often essential to make one's projects known, as one does not have the capital to invest in communication. In the event Twitter fails, as many fear, the big publishers will take note of the situation and will look for other channels for their promotional campaigns, paying what is necessary for the transition, while the small ones will have to fight again to find those communities that had laboriously built and which represented the heart of their sales, i.e. what keeps them afloat economically.

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