There has scarcely been a better time for indie games than the present. Steam has an already expansive and growing collection of self-published titles and the Nintendo Switch is playing host to a surprising amount of indie games. One good title can spark a franchise or game series with dedicated players, merchandise and sometimes even movie deals. Here we’ve collected six indie games or indie franchises that have managed to make it big.
While not as expansive as other games on this list, Cave Story was a one-man effort that managed to stand out in the indie game scene. Releasing at first on the PC Cave Story went on to release on the PSP and more than one Nintendo system, giving it the exposure to become a recognized symbol of indie games. Cave Story manages to show what one man and one game can do to an industry.
The Binding of Isaac
An unassuming and cartoonish style quickly gives way to gore, horror and tragedy in The Binding of Isaac. Known for its grueling roguelike gameplay, unique themes and aesthetic; The Binding of Isaac managed to become a hit on Steam. With the game’s success, the developer Edmund McMillen went on to create the DLC Wrath of the Lamb, and a comprehensive release as The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. More recently, the game has been surprisingly picked up by Nintendo despite the company’s more family-friendly image.
With its humor and story, Undertale has collected a massive fanbase. A surprise hit from indie developer Toby Fox, Undertale created a niche for itself in the indie market. At some moments it’s an RPG, at other times it’s a bullet-hell shooter, but at all times its clever writing sees Undertale through and has inspired countless fan art, music and videos. Despite being a more recent title and the first from Toby Fox, Undertale is another title making its way to the Nintendo Switch.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
With one creative game, indie developer Scott Cawthon sparked an entire media franchise. Five Nights at Freddy’s is known for its original gameplay and infamous jumpscares. With eight games, three novels, tons of merchandise and a movie deal; Five Nights at Freddy’s could hardly be a bigger success story. With Ultimate Custom Night possibly being the last in the series, fans are eagerly awaiting news of the movie.
Few indie titles can claim the same level of fame as Minecraft from Mojang. First released in 2009 Minecraft has been owned by Microsoft ever since Mojang was acquired by the company in 2014 for $2.5 billion. To this day Minecraft has a thriving community of players, an active modding community, merchandise and recognition to make it one of the most successful indie games.
League of Legends
Now one of the biggest names in eSports, it’s easy to forget that League of Legends was an indie game – though it may not be considered one today. The game’s developer Riot Games was co-founded by Brandon Beck and Marc Merril, with League of Legends being the company’s first game. Inspired by a mod from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos called Defense of the Ancients, Riot recruited Steve Feak who was a designer for the original mod to help make their game. Since its initial release in 2009 League of Legends has gathered fans from all over the world and become one of the biggest names in all of gaming.