Independent game development is a complex idea. Depending on who you're talking about, it means something different. Technically, Epic Games is "independent," even if they are working on some of the biggest releases in games. They are not, however, what you would typically consider "indie." Gas Powered Games founder Chris Taylor and Epic Games CEO Mike Capps discussed the difficulties of independence during Adam Sessler's "Hot Topics" panel at DICE 2010.
"It's not so much a fine line," said Taylor," [but there is] a big line between indie development, where there's the iPhone and this and that, and then what we do -- and then there's tiers of what we do. Mike [Capps is] doing big time independence stuff...To survive right now as an independent when you're in that category is especially challenging when the guys across the team are putting dudes in their basement and saying 'we're an independent developer.'"
Despite Capps' ability to oversee an independent studio that produces huge franchises like Gears of War, he said Epic Games can't do everything. Independents need help, too.
"It's getting harder and harder to be independent at our size," he said. "We're waiting for someone to buy Valve. [laughs] We've really enjoyed being independent. For us, it's about partnerships. That partnership is so crucial to being independent because we have to know what we don't know. Someone has to buy ads on Hong Kong subways. Knowing what you know well is key to being independent."
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