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How did the triple A games industry learn almost nothing from the success of Minecraft?

PizzaW0lf

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A few days ago, I was browsing the Wikipedia article on the best-selling games of all time. What really struck me about the list is how little I saw of the seemingly "established" triple A companies. I only really saw EA and Act-blizz a handful of times. Instead, the best-selling game ever is made by Mojang (And Nintendo and Rockstar seem to make the majority of the list).

I will admit some faults to this list like how it fails to account for free-to-play games, and some of the numbers are probably outdated. But regardless, I think the picture is still accurate. Back on the topic, how did Minecraft become the most impactful and best-selling game and yet I haven't seen ANY of the major players take notes from Minecraft in any major way?? Unlike in the AA space where you always see a lot of survival games on steam so clearly a lot of indie game developers are inspired by the game. What I mean by notable is how Minecraft is a game where you can make anything, if you're on java you don't have any MTX or anything like that, Minecraft is built around making it your world, The game had humble beginnings and it's only like 30$. There's just so much that Minecraft has done that's pretty legendary that no one else has really adopted even though it's literally the best-selling game EVER.

I will give some credit though, out of all the greedy companies I think Ubisoft actually took some good notes from Minecraft. Ever since Minecraft, I've noticed Ubisoft add crafting mechanics and other aspects to their games which I think is pretty interesting to see. But even then how come no major company has taken a shot at making a AAA Minecraft competitor? If they really believed in the game they could pump a lot of money into it and make the game feel a lot more fleshed out and more "AAA" than Minecraft. I will admit though that I would prefer Minecraft compared to whatever shlock the AAA industry would put out but still, It would be good to see some kind of competitor.

The core of what I'm really getting at is the problem of how PRIDFUL and so far up their own, AAA games companies have become. You would expect whatever garbage they put out to be successful or be the best selling but no it's actually a simple cube game that would be popular. Is this just a very clear indication of just how corrupt and unbelievably out of touch western AAA companies have become? How are they this blissfully unaware of the popularity? I'm just really baffled as to how this happened. It doesn't even make business sense if you think about it. So much for voting with our wallet.

Also, I realized that I could make a more coherent narrative here but I just wanted to ramble about Minecraft's success and how it still didn't mean much of anything long-term.
 
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deepfreeze

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Minecraft hit its apex right when gaming started transitioning away from open world survival towards battle royale, at which point Fortnight became a smashing success by merging the two. BR has now subsumed everything and no attempt has been made to move back into the survival genre because none of the AA games you mentioned have had any staying power, necessary to farm MTX. They become early access flavor of the month and then disappear, and even that much success appears to have stopped.
 
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Orlando Smooth

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What is there to learn? It's hard to imagine a better sandbox game than Minecraft, especially because it has been updated and had features added to it for so long now. The fact that it's a sandbox also explains why it remains so fun over a decade after it was released. Compared to other games, even really good AAA games (e.g., Witcher III), it blows them out of the water in terms of replayability because of limitless nature of the game. Minecraft already sits on the top, and if another studio tried to release a competitor the general sentiment would be "why would I buy that when I can already play a better version that all my friends own too." Network effects are real, and this is a great example of that.

I think another under-appreciated component of the success is that it is, or at least can be, a very chill game. Games that are not based entirely around having the twitchiest most adderall-induced reflexes are always going to be capable of catching a larger market share.
Minecraft hit its apex right when gaming started transitioning away from open world survival towards battle royale, at which point Fortnight became a smashing success by merging the two.
Not sure I can agree with you here. I suppose you can make the claim that it was at its "apex" here, but Minecraft was made public in 2009 and got an official release it 2011. Fortnite didn't release until 2017. That's an eternity in the gaming world, and it's not as if Minecraft was unpopular prior to 2017. Shit, a friend's younger brother, who didn't even own a gaming console, created a Minecraft server on his mid-grade consumer laptop in 2012 by watching YouTube videos on how to do it. This is someone who was neither techy nor a gamer. The fact that such information was both easily available and easily consumable displays to me anyways that it was not some kind of fringe corner of the internet or a niche hobby.

I think you're generally correct though that battle royale was clearly the next phase of gaming, and Fortnite was/is the king of the genre in the way that Minecraft is the undisputed king of sandbox games.
 
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Collision

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A few days ago, I was browsing the Wikipedia article on the best-selling games of all time. What really struck me about the list is how little I saw of the seemingly "established" triple A companies. I only really saw EA and Act-blizz a handful of times. Instead, the best-selling game ever is made by Mojang (And Nintendo and Rockstar seem to make the majority of the list).
Nintendo does indeed make up the majority of the list with 27 (of 51) entries. It would seem to me that it's better to be Nintendo than it is to be Mojang (actually Microsoft anyway). Based on Wikipedia's list alone the recipe for video game success is:
  1. Work for Nintendo
  2. Work on an established title like Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, or Super Smash Bros.
In addition to that Wikipedia is referencing a document put out by Microsoft. They don't actually break down the sales by edition (although they say that Education Edition sold 60 million units) so we have no idea if Microsoft means that Minecraft has sold 238 million units as a specific title or if that's the number overall for all Minecraft games. Microsoft also claims to have sold copies of Minecraft in Antarctica in the same document. All of this makes me a little skeptical of the exactness of this 238 million units figure. Does it include copies packed in with Xbox consoles and Windows OEM PCs? We don't really have an answer.
Back on the topic, how did Minecraft become the most impactful and best-selling game and yet I haven't seen ANY of the major players take notes from Minecraft in any major way??
There's just so much that Minecraft has done that's pretty legendary that no one else has really adopted even though it's literally the best-selling game EVER.
How do we know that Minecraft is impactful or that so much that it has done is legendary? Wii Sports also moved a lot of units. Is Wii Sports impactful and legendary?
I will give some credit though, out of all the greedy companies I think Ubisoft actually took some good notes from Minecraft. Ever since Minecraft, I've noticed Ubisoft add crafting mechanics and other aspects to their games which I think is pretty interesting to see. But even then how come no major company has taken a shot at making a AAA Minecraft competitor? If they really believed in the game they could pump a lot of money into it and make the game feel a lot more fleshed out and more "AAA" than Minecraft. I will admit though that I would prefer Minecraft compared to whatever shlock the AAA industry would put out but still, It would be good to see some kind of competitor.
It feels like you've answered your own question here. How come no major company has taken a shot at making a clone of Minecraft? If they really believed they could make money doing that then they would. Apparently, the big name game studios don't believe that's the case.
The core of what I'm really getting at is the problem of how PRIDFUL and so far up their own, AAA games companies have become. You would expect whatever garbage they put out to be successful or be the best selling but no it's actually a simple cube game that would be popular. Is this just a very clear indication of just how corrupt and unbelievably out of touch western AAA companies have become? How are they this blissfully unaware of the popularity? I'm just really baffled as to how this happened. It doesn't even make business sense if you think about it. So much for voting with our wallet.

Also, I realized that I could make a more coherent narrative here but I just wanted to ramble about Minecraft's success and how it still didn't mean much of anything long-term.
Are these companies simply too proud to copy Minecraft? Where's the evidence of that? Where's the beef? It's kind of a baffling take, in my opinion, that not flooding the market with hundreds of Minecraft clones is evidence of corruption. At the very least, it seems that game companies have enough integrity to attempt to develop their own properties rather than just beat for beat copying whatever title tops the sales list. Personally, I highly doubt that the video game industry at large is unaware that Minecraft is popular. If you're creating games for profit though popularity isn't the only factor. What are the costs of copying Minecraft? What competencies will it require? If you develop those competencies will they be useful in the future? Will copying Minecraft be profitable in the near-term, the long-term, both, or neither? For whatever reason, it's apparently not worth it.
 
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shinobu

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Minecraft's success has been on my mind for a while since I started reading up on game design, and it really feels like a lot of luck was involved. Early Minecraft was not much more than a tech demo (pretty easy to implement even just using OpenGL) and the more interesting part was the world generation. When it turned into a survival game by taking that world generation, improving it a lot, adding monsters and a day-night cycle, the tech demo evolved in just the right ways. They also added crafting to make more items, blocks, and tools from the world-available items. If you read the changelog from an early version of Infdev from 2010. There already were a lot of features which formed the base of Minecraft as a whole experience.

And what an interesting experience it was. If you try listing out all the features of the game there are so many aspects to dive into: the crafting, the mob spawning behaviour, the lighting, the great world generation (unlike any other procedurally generated world, the choice of voxels to simplify the world's topology made world generation from a seed a better overall process which resulted in worlds worth exploring), the variety of blocks allowing you to build many things, the biomes, the dungeons, trading with villagers, the freedom given by the lack of objectives, etc.
Yet however good the experience was, the game was very hard to get into on its own. The crafting recipes were not available in-game, which meant you had to have another resource open on the side, and there were many mechanics which were similarly unexplained yet you could only learn about them from a wiki or by being bitten by them during gameplay (like hitting the world's build height, or mobs spawning in your house due to low lighting conditions)

I think this issue of "bad" design was solved by a lot of happy coincidences given the time in which Minecraft was released. A community quickly formed around the game, and people's creativity made the game a much greater experience than it normally was: the proliferation of tools and forums+wikis to spread useful information, the emergence of new minigames like building competitions or spleef, the creation of servers with different objectives (construction, anarchy, roleplay, survival, etc.), a great modding community (which produced an incredible amount of mods (99.9999% of them for free!) that extended the game in so many ways, from small utility additions to adding new mobs, biomes, new mechanics (like the engineering mods and the Thaumcraft mods, which were almost expansions of the base game), even new dimensions (remember the Aether mod coming from a supposedly planned Sky dimension?). Most importantly, the massive amount of let's plays from the budding era of Youtubers served as an incredible source of free, organic advertising, all of which contributed to spreading its popularity, and snowballing into a truly huge community.

I played Minecraft pretty early on and it was very different from anything I've ever played before it (and of course, any successors would be permanently cursed by having played the game, which would definitely influence their design decisions, consciously or unconsciously). It feels like copying its success is almost impossible for anyone, even indie developers.
I'd even go as far as saying that Minecraft is a game like Doom, Quake, Pacman, or Tetris: the first game which made a series of choices that define a genre properly. Forcing this phenomenon is very hard.

TLDR: Minecraft is a weird game, with obscure mechanics yet hiding a lot of greatness inside, which was uncovered by the community and I feel like its success was driven by a combination of luck, and Mojang just enjoying extending the game by adding new features, many of which were requested by that same passionate community.
 
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elia925-6

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Because most AAA devs are afraid of risking. That's why i see more carbon copy games that don't stand out every year. Bioshock is the exception not the norm because it combines science fiction with political ideologies which is rare in AAA gaming. The same can be said for indies. While there's room for experimental and games with rare themes, most of them are soulslike, uninspiring farm sims trying to copy Animal's crossing success, they don't explore fully cyberpunk aesthetic other than cliche 80s japan neon stuff(There is unique stuff like VA11-Halla and Stray), and Zelda Alttp wannabes without putting effort into the gameplay and themes as a result they look the same.
 
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deepfreeze

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Minecraft's true power comes from emergence. It has a Dwarf Fortress-like quality where it's a simulation first and a game second. This means that while it has many inscrutable mechanics (as shinobu noted), they often interact in fascinating ways and once you understand and master them you can combine them to do almost anything. Your only limit is the shallowness of your psychosis. Every game in the genre since then has been primarily, well, a game where you can only do the things the game explicitly allows you to do.
 
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RisingThumb

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Because it's an extremely rare example of something that's both a game engine and a game. The argument that it's a game engine is difficult to wrap your head around until you realise it's all the mods, community servers and plugins and custom-made maps that makes a lot of the content of Minecraft - and the just a game part is pretty obvious(in fact it's many games due to the combinatorial explosion of all the stuff people make for it).

The only 2 other examples I can think of are Terraria(at a stretch) and Roblox(and in Roblox's case the whole "game engine" part is actually somewhat inaccessible to most people as it requires learning to code).
 
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InsufferableCynic

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The Triple-A industry is way too short sighted to see any of it's own problems. All they care about is making all of the money right now. They will destroy a long-running cash cow series if it gives them an extra 10% returns right now. It's why Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo are all either dying or already dead. It's not enough for these companies to just pump out generic but competent content, they have to squeeze the noose tighter and tighter with each release, which results in large sums of money coming in all at once, followed by bankruptcy.
 

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AAA gamedevs want a formula to make a billion dollars in profit every single year, by Q4's earnings call. Minecraft is a one-off success story that can't be replicated consistently. There's other possibilities to setting up your portfolio of games, as a AAA company, but they all have the big disadvantage of the fact that they can't be justified to the board nearly as easily. A single blockbuster AAA game that's consistent and sold to millions of normies is predictable, and pretty much always works. The venture capital moonshot strategy is broken by the fact of gaming's much lower profit ceiling, and a portfolio of medium-budget games has more moving parts, less predictability, and the potential to lead to miscalculations or overspending.

This is why I repeat it over and over - the only way to get good games is to look at budget. The larger the budget, the more pressure there is to reach wide appeal & break even, the more stale, uninteresting the game will get. To torture a metaphor - when there's a thousand cooks in the kitchen, it's kind of insane to do anything more complex or experimental than a short-order burger joint. Just only play small budget games & even if you pick wrong, it'll be wrong in an interesting way.
 
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Andy Kaufman

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A few days ago, I was browsing the Wikipedia article on the best-selling games of all time. What really struck me about the list is how little I saw of the seemingly "established" triple A companies. I only really saw EA and Act-blizz a handful of times. Instead, the best-selling game ever is made by Mojang (And Nintendo and Rockstar seem to make the majority of the list).

I will admit some faults to this list like how it fails to account for free-to-play games, and some of the numbers are probably outdated. But regardless, I think the picture is still accurate. Back on the topic, how did Minecraft become the most impactful and best-selling game and yet I haven't seen ANY of the major players take notes from Minecraft in any major way?? Unlike in the AA space where you always see a lot of survival games on steam so clearly a lot of indie game developers are inspired by the game. What I mean by notable is how Minecraft is a game where you can make anything, if you're on java you don't have any MTX or anything like that, Minecraft is built around making it your world, The game had humble beginnings and it's only like 30$. There's just so much that Minecraft has done that's pretty legendary that no one else has really adopted even though it's literally the best-selling game EVER.

I will give some credit though, out of all the greedy companies I think Ubisoft actually took some good notes from Minecraft. Ever since Minecraft, I've noticed Ubisoft add crafting mechanics and other aspects to their games which I think is pretty interesting to see. But even then how come no major company has taken a shot at making a AAA Minecraft competitor? If they really believed in the game they could pump a lot of money into it and make the game feel a lot more fleshed out and more "AAA" than Minecraft. I will admit though that I would prefer Minecraft compared to whatever shlock the AAA industry would put out but still, It would be good to see some kind of competitor.

The core of what I'm really getting at is the problem of how PRIDFUL and so far up their own, AAA games companies have become. You would expect whatever garbage they put out to be successful or be the best selling but no it's actually a simple cube game that would be popular. Is this just a very clear indication of just how corrupt and unbelievably out of touch western AAA companies have become? How are they this blissfully unaware of the popularity? I'm just really baffled as to how this happened. It doesn't even make business sense if you think about it. So much for voting with our wallet.

Also, I realized that I could make a more coherent narrative here but I just wanted to ramble about Minecraft's success and how it still didn't mean much of anything long-term.
AAA Gamedev structures are deeply set into stone: Your bugdet is determined by how well the publishers can sell a cinematic trailer/marketing campaign because that rakes in preorders of retards (i.e. the average gamer). That's why modern AAA titles have a huuuuuge marketing budget that sometimes even exceeds the dev budget.
1669623063091.png

So publishers want you to play it safe and also just make big promises because the industry runs on preorder money. This environment is inherently hostile to taking risks and creativity because the suits hate risk and experiments.
The indie scene however thrives on creativity. If you'r an indie dev and just make another minecraft clone, you're gonna drown in the sea of the thousands of other minecraft clones so you gotta stand out.
So I think it's hard for the AAA industry to learn anything in particular from Minecraft's success since the dev environment is so much different from the indie scene.
 
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inuyashiware

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I see your point, If there is something that sells,the triple A companies will make a shit bandwagon for it.
Battle Royale? Like 500 fucking copies?(and it all started cause of a japanese movie that gets no cred)
So yeah,I definitely see this question standing, but I think Minecraft is just too good of a game to be copied.
 
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housepoopr

The core of what I'm really getting at is the problem of how PRIDFUL and so far up their own, AAA games companies have become. You would expect whatever garbage they put out to be successful or be the best selling but no it's actually a simple cube game that would be popular. Is this just a very clear indication of just how corrupt and unbelievably out of touch western AAA companies have become? How are they this blissfully unaware of the popularity? I'm just really baffled as to how this happened. It doesn't even make business sense if you think about it. So much for voting with our wallet.

Videogames were made by idealistic young men and artists that cared first about something being fun, well fun. Videogames went through phases, and most of the early ones were simple and fun, addictive.

Then came a lot of really crappy platforming clones which were poorly controlled or written and shipped to make a buck.
Then we entered that golden age where everyone in North America, Europe, and Japan knew how to make really good quality games, and what it took to be successful.
Japan was ahead of everyone in this regard, and still kind of is. Player came first, fun, exploration, self discovery, all themes in a good game.
Then came corporate studios whose sole thing was to push out games to keep shareholders happy. They made compromises for deadlines that were truly unrealistic, and turned many devs into small startups, which still put out great games, but ultimately, burned out a lot of good devs. They then gobbled up every freaking studio under the sun as well. Burnout was everywhere.

Then those studios got desperate and started day one DLC, Pay 2 Win, Lootboxes, and all around bullshit abusive tactics.
Finally, the last nail in the coffin of the industry came. DIE. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. AKA: Screw white people, screw men, and double screw white men. This is no longer a meritocracy.

Minecraft is a reminder that merit is the only thing that matters when devs are making games. Notch got rich on his own merit, put 1000 feminist intersectional multicultural idealogues in a room and they will make an uninspiring dog turd of a game that preaches it's ass off and on top of that implements all of the above.


Gaming is not dead. AAA Gaming is dead because of the lack of a meritocracy. If the best person on your team can't be a white male, you are going to make a heap of garbage that white males, who are the primary demographic won't want to buy, because we don't buy games to be preached to, and they can't help but do it. It's the nature of someone who have felt powerless, even if that powerlessness was manufactured by marxist ideologues, to dump out their purses and think this thing is good, people will agree with me! They won't.

Gaming isn't an art form to the intersectional 2slbgtqiap+ feminista brigade, it's a platform for their political ideas. This is why games like Minecraft kick the shit out of AAA games.

AAA games are just abusive to developers and customers, and now they have a political axe to grind thanks to blackrock and the ESG score. More and more of these titles will happen.
 

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Gaming is not dead. AAA Gaming is dead because of the lack of a meritocracy. If the best person on your team can't be a white male, you are going to make a heap of garbage that white males, who are the primary demographic won't want to buy, because we don't buy games to be preached to, and they can't help but do it. It's the nature of someone who have felt powerless, even if that powerlessness was manufactured by marxist ideologues, to dump out their purses and think this thing is good, people will agree with me! They won't.
AAA gaming isn't dead. Look at Elden Ring. Most of AAA gaming is stifled by risk-aversion, which when you have hundreds of jobs on the line is actually a fair concern economically.

The problem here is that most hardcore gamers don't want what most of AAA games offer(with the exception of comeptitive games like CSGO/Valorant/League but those are a minority and only appeal to competitive gamers not necessarily hardcore ones), but relatively new gamers don't care much for whether a game is good because of exposure
 
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housepoopr

AAA gaming isn't dead. Look at Elden Ring. Most of AAA gaming is stifled by risk-aversion, which when you have hundreds of jobs on the line is actually a fair concern economically.

The problem here is that most hardcore gamers don't want what most of AAA games offer(with the exception of comeptitive games like CSGO/Valorant/League but those are a minority and only appeal to competitive gamers not necessarily hardcore ones), but relatively new gamers don't care much for whether a game is good because of exposure
You are right, I should qualify this statement: "Relative to 1995 through about 2010ish", where so many of the games were hits, it sure **feels** that way. There are a fewer good quality games from AAA studios, but most games are basically monetization models with games attached at this point. I lived through the golden age of gaming, and it was a wild ride where almost everything was really great, but now there are very few bright spots outside of Nintendo.

Stardew Valley for instance, while not particularly a-political, was a total smash hit that many of these companies can't dream of moving those kinds of units anymore on. Same with Minecraft. I still play stardew valley to this day. Undertale, another amazing game with dogshit graphics that was more fun than i'd had in a long time and it sold more units than most of the AAA games.

I hold up the last of us part 2 as an example of why ppl don't want to play AAA games. They wrecked the franchise, clearly.
 

RisingThumb

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Stardew Valley for instance, while not particularly a-political, was a total smash hit that many of these companies can't dream of moving those kinds of units anymore on. Same with Minecraft. I still play stardew valley to this day. Undertale, another amazing game with dogshit graphics that was more fun than i'd had in a long time and it sold more units than most of the AAA games.
I question the value of looking at how many units are shipped, as it's not a good metric for talking about the quality of something. Nevertheless, in this statement, there's a bias towards picking out the few indie games that shipped with large numbers. The vast majority will be lucky to sell even 1000 units(1000 units * £10 = £10,000, which is a really stinking poor ROI if looked economically).
 
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housepoopr

I question the value of looking at how many units are shipped, as it's not a good metric for talking about the quality of something. Nevertheless, in this statement, there's a bias towards picking out the few indie games that shipped with large numbers. The vast majority will be lucky to sell even 1000 units(1000 units * £10 = £10,000, which is a really stinking poor ROI if looked economically).

Objectively speaking you can't assign a value of a game based on shipped units, but I think it's a good indicator. In an ideal world, games that had massive budgets, hundreds of professionals, and probably thousands of people who in some way contributed would be able to make a game that is more critically acclaimed by players, than a guy or two in his basement, or a guy working a 9 to 5 at a movie theater, but this isn't the case most of the time, and in fact, the reason they beat most indies in sales is due to marketing and gimmie dats from consumers who are FOMO'd. If you have 10 million bucks for marketing, and the other guy has steam greenlight, one is going to do better. Is it a better quality game on soul, ingenuity, and player consideration. Almost always no and that's because...

It's because they are making soulless cash grabs, by the least meritorious people, at the lowest possible wage, while trying to max out their ESG score for investor dollars.

Whereas indie games are made by passionate people, who have the merit to do their own thing.
 

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The gaming red pill is learning the truth that AAA games have become so irredeemably garbage that collapse is the only possible outcome.

The black pill is realising Indie games are just as bad.