How do some small indie games become massive hits? The ones developed by small teams with little funding take the world by storm. We’re discussing games like Minecraft, Rocket League, and Stardew Valley. How did they get so huge? Now, let’s dive into the stories behind some of gaming’s unlikeliest blockbusters!
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Cuphead took the gaming world by storm when it debuted in 2017. This run-and-gun action platformer, inspired by cartoons from the 1930s, was created by Canadian brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. They spent years painstakingly hand-drawing and animating the game to achieve an authentic retro style.
Undertale is a quirky role-playing game that captures players’ hearts with clever writing, meta-humour, and moral choices. Created by indie developer Toby Fox, Undertale was released in 2015 and has become a major success story.
3. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley, which draws inspiration partly from the Harvest Moon series, gives its users a soothing farming sim experience and interesting and enduring character development. The player’s responsible for restoring the crumbling farm they inherit from their grandfather.
Markus “Notch” Persson created the blocky sandbox game in 2009. Notch built the game in his spare time and made it available for purchase during the alpha stage. Word of mouth spread, and millions of copies were sold before the official release. Microsoft acquired Mojang, Notch’s company, for $2.5 billion 2014.
5. Super Meat Boy
Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes spent over two years developing the brutally difficult platformer. After being rejected by major publishers, they launched on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. Strong reviews and word of mouth turned it into an indie hit, with over 2 million copies sold across all platforms.
Jonathan Blow spent three years and $200,000 of his money developing the time-bending puzzle platformer. Released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2008, it received rave reviews for its innovative gameplay and mature storytelling. Braid’s success established Blow as an influential figure in indie games and inspired many other indie developers.
The creepy puzzle-platformer was created by Danish studio Playdead, an Xbox Live Summer of Arcade release in 2010. Its stark black-and-white visuals and unsettling atmosphere captured players’ imaginations. Limbo helped establish the “indie esthetic” and went on to sell over 3 million copies.
8. The Binding of Isaac
Initially designed during a game jam, Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl’s roguelike shooter was released on Steam in 2011. Its bizarre and disturbing premise resonated with players, gaining a cult following and selling over 3 million copies.
Hades is a video game that has won recognition from all corners for its visual style, gameplay, and phenomenal cast of characters. Its story is loosely based on classic Greek mythology. Hades’ development will undoubtedly continue because it is on track to rank among the top independent video games on the market.
Fez, which debuted in 2012, is an earlier example of a massive breakthrough indie hit, and its standing among gamers has stayed solid ever since. Fez is a puzzle platformer that plays with perspective by fusing 2D gameplay with a 3D universe.