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商业 - 科技

独立游戏开发蕴藏金矿

Melissa Locker 2013年12月19日

在线发行意味着小型游戏公司摆脱了发行渠道的制约,已经有条件和那些游戏巨头一争高低。与此同时,这种趋势也引起了一些行业巨头的关注。

    游戏《回家》中的一个场景。

    无可否认,电子游戏是个大生意。《侠盗飞车五》(Grand Theft Auto V )一天就卖了8亿美元,一举成为有史以来最快突破吸金10亿美元大关的游戏。

    但是游戏领域里并不是只有像《侠盗飞车》这样的大制作。现在游戏可以网上发行,意味着游戏开发者再也不需要借助专业公司的渠道把他们的游戏送到玩家手里了。一旦摆脱了在大企业工作那些有形无形的束缚,独立游戏开发业就变成一个创意不断、快速发展,当然还有滚滚财源的热闹领域。

    比如《挖矿争霸》(Minecraft),这款一鸣惊人的积木游戏已经被全球玩家装在自己的PC和iPad中。这款现在已成为巨作的游戏是一个名叫马库斯•佩尔森,绰号又称“切口”的人利用空余时间独立开发的。它现在已经卖了1.5亿多美元,PC版卖出了1250多万套,面向所有平台的版本卖了3300多万套。切口先生辞掉了工作,创办了一个叫Mojang的工作室,现在它已经有了30多个员工。

    到底什么才算是真正的独立游戏?目前游戏圈里争议颇大,尤其是针对那些大公司提供的独立开发项目或发行交易。《独立游戏杂志》(Indie Game Mag)对这些讨论做了一个很好的综述。而在我们看来,所谓独立游戏是指那些没有公司赞助或代为发行的游戏,比如《时空幻境》( Braid)——它在主流游戏媒体圈引起了很大轰动,获得了众多评论和奖项——它就是在没有任何公司介入的情况下,完全由乔纳森•布洛自己投资开发的一款游戏。

    有了这样的成功故事,无怪乎那些游戏巨头现在都开始密切关注独立开发者们。最近,索尼全球工作室(World Wide Studios)总裁吉田修平在PlayStation博客上的一篇采访中表示:“独立开发运动让我非常兴奋,它让我想起了当年开发第一代PlayStation的日子。那时候,PlayStation大大拓展了游戏人群,还带来了很多新的开发者,大量独特有趣的游戏不知从哪儿就那么冒了出来……现在我从这些独立开发者身上又感受到了那种活力和激情。这一次我确实觉得很激动。”     

    There's no denying that videogames are big business. Grand Theft Auto V sold $800 million in one day, helping it hit $1 billion in sales faster than the fastest-grossing videogame ever.

    But major league hits like GTA are not the only game in town. The advent of online game distribution has meant that game developers no longer need corporate infrastructure to get their games into the hands of players. Freed of the constraints, perceived or otherwise, of working in big business, indie game development has become a hive of creativity, development and, yes, profit.

    Take for example Minecraft, the blockbuster block-building game that has been loaded up on PCs and iPads across the globe. What is now a gaming behemoth was hatched by one man, Markus Persson a.k.a. "Notch," who created the game in his free time. What started as a small indie game project exploded. Minecraft has grossed well over $150 million, and sold more than 12.5 million copies on PC and over 33 million copies across all platforms. Notch quit his day job and founded a studio, Mojang, which now employs over 30 people.

    What exactly constitutes an indie game is wildly contested within the gaming community, especially with some of the big corporate players offering indie development or distribution deals. Indie Game Mag has a good overview of the arguments. For our purposes, indie games are those developed without corporate funding or distribution, for example a game like Braid -- which garnered a lot of buzz, reviews, and awards from the mainstream gaming press -- that was created and paid for entirely by developer Jonathan Blow with no corporate influence.

    With success stories like that, it's no wonder that big gaming companies are paying close attention to the indie developers. "The indie movement is so exciting to me," Sony Worldwide Studio's President Shuhei Yoshida said recently in an interview on the PlayStation Blog. "It really reminds me of when we were working on the original PlayStation. Back then, PlayStation really expanded the audience for gaming and brought in a lot of new developers. Lots of unique, interesting games came out of nowhere ... I feel a similar kind of vibe and passion from those indie people today. I'm so excited this time."   

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