We’re all familiar with an indie title that seemed to reach record success overnight; alongside the latest AAA releases, a game from a previously unknown developer or studio skyrockets to the top of Steam and console sales. Whether you have been following an indie game’s development from the beginning or your investment started with its download bar, seeing a small studio reach this kind of success is refreshing in an industry dominated by AAAs.
Indie developers aren’t provided with an exact formula to ensure this level of popularity; most of the time, it just happens. When a game is released, however, it is only as strong as the fans that support the hours of work that went into it. A game reaches the top of the charts when fans buy into the concept and champion the game wholeheartedly. Thousands of indie games deserve this attention, and as a fan, you can make that happen. There are many ways you can support your favorite indie games–beyond purchasing a title on launch day–that can help bring a them into mainstream conversation.
Without a large marketing budget and high-profile contacts, many indie developers and studios take to social media to celebrate their game’s progress–notably on X, TikTok, or Reddit. Whether or not a post gains traction is up to users who share, repost, and upvote. If you want to support an indie game or studio further, follow their social media accounts and share progress as they post about it. This connects you with others who are as invested in the game as you are, but it also grants free exposure to titles needing a larger following.
If you discover a game in its nascent stages of development–whether on social media or while browsing online storefronts–showing support from its inception can have preferential benefits for you and the developers. As mentioned above, showing support on social media helps generate buzz around a title’s release. Beyond that, however, supporting a game in its early development stages might offer you early access to it. If the studio or game has a Discord server, they may schedule playtests with community members to gain valuable feedback for future updates. Not only can you support the progress of the game, but you can be part of its development!
Indie games are available on various platforms; developers may publish them on Steam and console storefronts or upload them to sites like itch.io, which encourages indie game discovery. Though not a significant difference, itch.io offers developers a higher profit per game sold than Steam and other console stores. If you’d like to see more games from a studio or developer, ensuring they have financial means is a great way to support them. Additionally, a game may rely on a Kickstarter for funding; if you can donate, your contribution can go a long way.
Beyond purchasing a game, leaving a review is one of the most important ways to support a game you love. Reviews push games higher in popularity, notoriety, and reputation. Getting a title higher on a “Popular and Upcoming” list and ensuring it has stellar ratings will incentivize audiences to purchase.
Unfortunately, indie game success isn’t formulaic, nor is it as certain as the attention big-budget titles receive. Regardless of budget and notoriety, however, there are specific steps fans can take to champion their favorite titles. Looking for your new obsession? Check out a few upcoming indies to add to your wishlist!