September 21, 2007 4:04 PM | Simon Carless
GameTunnel and Reflexive's Russell Carroll has been writing about IAC's majority acquisition of Torque Engine creator GarageGames, which we covered on Gamasutra recently from a purely factual perspective. However, Carroll expands on by looking to what it means for indie games, in his view, and it's a very interesting read..
Basically, as Gama explains: "Officials from “interactive conglomerate” IAC have announced that the company has acquired a majority of independent games developer GarageGames equity. As a result the two companies now plan to launch a new Web-based video game network named InstantAction.com, intended to offer original action titles through a standard Web browser."
Now, Carroll has some reasonably strong views on the legacy of GarageGames, a company which has certainly provided some good indie flavor and a strong, low-cost engine to many developers, but, it's true, haven't really stepped up to break-out hit status in terms of critical mass, excepting perhaps their own XBLA title Marble Blast Ultra. The crux of his argument is as follows:
"What GarageGames didn't do was fully appreciate the importance of selling games to their future. They wanted to create the technology and let the developers create the market. That didn't work. 5 Years later there is no Indie marketplace, in fact there is less of a downloadable Indie market than there was when they started.
I think in retrospect the approach would have been something like:
1 - create great technology
2 - create games on that technology
3 - create a great community driven website store to sell the games
4 - release the games on casual portals, and then later steam and gametap to maximize awareness and drive customers back to the game store
5 - publish other people's games on the game store and create great add-ons for the great games that you'd already made
6 - improve the technology
7 - make new games on that technology
8 - repeat 4-7 multiple times
(my assessment is that GG got off to a great start doing 1 and 2, skipped 3, started to do 4 and then changed directions , dabbled with 5, worked on 6, didn't deliver on 7 and was ready to try a different approach by 8)."
This is, needless to say, quite strong stuff, and it draws a very interesting response from GarageGames co-founder Jeff Tunnell in the comments to the post: "Actually, this post is way off base in many respects. I take huge exception to your casual statement that the GG Game Store was an after thought. It was a part of the plan from Day One, and, in fact, a prototype was shown at the first IGC. I met you at the first IGC. For you to claim that you are somehow the reason that we tried to sell games is a huge overstatement.
We did sell a lot of games in the game store. Marble Blast has sold over 10,000 copies from our store, and many others are in the 1,000's of sales. However, it was not enough. We could not get enough good games to keep the stream alive. In retrospect, our standards may have been too high." So... who's right?