Hinterland CEO on the Growing Popularity of Indie Games: Players Are Tired of the AAA Approach and Interested in Unconventional Genres

The year 2024 marked a slew of indie hits on Steam, including Palworld, Manor Lords, Content Warning, Balatro, Backpack Battles, and others. The success of some of these titles came as a surprise. Raphael van Lierop, the founder and CEO of Hinterland, the studio behind The Long Dark, outlined potential reasons for the indie boom on LinkedIn.

Content Warning

He highlighted three main reasons for this:

  1. the general audience fatigue with the AAA approach and the lack of "value" in high-priced games;
  2. the social aspect of Steam. Unlike other gaming platforms, Steam is not only a digital storefront but also a communication platform, which aids in the virality of games;
  3. the players' interest in genres that are unpopular among large publishers or not fully explored by them, such as city-builders, RTS, and survival games.


Raphael van Lierop
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