RedLynx: Being indie doesn't always mean you're independent

RedLynx: Being indie doesn't always mean you're independent
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

May 4th 2012 at 12:09PM

The Trials Evolution studio's boss on the freedom of being acquired

The CEO of Trials Evolution studio RedLynx Tero Virtala has said that he believes being an 'indie' can restrict a game developer's independence.

Speaking with Develop in an interview published in our new issue, and reflecting on comments he made at GDC, Virtala stated that there can be an illusion to independence.

"I of course can’t speak on behalf of every studio that’s been acquired, but for us clearly Ubisoft has been an extremely good family to join. In many ways we are more independent now than we have ever been," said Virtala.

"There is definitely a truth to the fact that there is an illusion to the idea that being an indie – in that you are independent from a bigger organisation – gives you so much freedom and is so great.

"The fact is that most of those small indie studios are in a position where if they don’t have enough money they are constantly having to search for publishers, producers and so on, and they have to work out the likes of contract details.

"That can make them far away from being really independent where they can make their own decisions about the types of games they make and where and how they publish their games."

Virtala's comments come in the wake of Mojang Specification's Markus 'Notch' Persson criticising EA for what the Minecraft creator deemed misuse of the term 'indie'.

While Virtala recognised that many indies are truly independent, and suggested that the likes of venture capital financing can offer many indies a chance for creative freedom, he stated a belief that a lack of money can stifle the efforts of small studios to be autonomous.

"The fact is that most of those small indie studios are in a position where if they don’t have enough money they are constantly having to search for publishers, producers and so on, and they have to work out the likes of contract details," Virtala continued.

"That can make them far away from being really independent where they can make their own decisions about the types of games they make and where and how they publish their games."

The word 'indie' remains a contentious issue. Currently a hugely popular – and potentially lucrative – concept, it technically applies to studios not owned by a parent company. However, a less clearly definable 'indie spirit' remains more important to many observer's perspective on what makes a studio count as a true 'indie'.

To read the full version of our fascinating interview with Virtala, check the new May issue of Develop, currently available in print, or digitally on iPad or via browser.

You can now subscribe to our digital edition in the browser as well – click here for info.