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BattleBlock Theater devs say digital releases, crowdfunding won't 'stabilize' indie scene

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The Behemoth, the studio behind Castle Crashers and recently-launched BattleBlock Theater, believe that increased digital distribution and leaning on crowdfunding won't "stabilize" the indie games market, according to GamesIndustry.biz.

In a recent interview, founders John Baez and Dan Paladin said both large studios and small indie developers will face the same hurdles as we move into the next console generation.

"As a developer you'll spend (proportionally to your size) a very large amount of money on something you can only hope people want to play," he added. "You live game-to-game, because that's where all your income is coming from. If your latest game doesn't do well that's probably the end of it for you no matter whether you're big or small. Gargantuan companies get a bit more leeway of course."

Baez also agreed that both AAA and small developers are participating in the same fight, weighing expected customers against development costs.

"In a way it is kind of a crap shoot since a big studio with a big budget and a well-reviewed game can still go bankrupt and a small four-man studio can crank out what looks like an unfinished game and make millions," he said. "It is that kind of serendipity that will keep the industry moving forward."

Releasing games digitally and giving developers more publishing freedom also has positives and negatives, said Paladin. Strict "gatekeeping" prevents some good content from reaching gamers, while more lax parameters let platforms get "clogged with junk."

"So is the filter better or is the freedom better? It really depends on where you're coming from and what your tastes are," Paladin said.

"I think as more content becomes available you are going to see individuals who are not devs and maybe not working at hardware companies becoming the 'trusted source' of what is good out there in the mass of games," Baez said, noting he thinks digital platforms will adopt curated feeds in the future. "This will differ than just ratings or being a reviewer; I think it will become more like your favorite radio DJ who you listen to because you like their taste."