The Types of Indie Games That Get Attention and Sell Well…

This just pisses me off. Sure, my indie game “James – Journey of Existence” is doing poorly on Kickstarter (http://kck.st/19wTNSh), and that’s largely because of how poor it looks this early in development. But it’s trying something new, and is trying to be meaningful. Then I look randomly online and find this game:

“Catlateral Damage”

(note: The following rage is based on believing this game will cost money as opposed to being entirely free-to-play upon completion. If this isn’t the case, please ignore this post.)

What is it? It’s a game (very obviously made in Unity3D) that lets you play as a cat in your owner’s bedroom. The gameplay consists of you trying to knock over as many things as possible in the room in two minutes. Get a high score.

What do I think about it? It’s a cute idea. But the gameplay is simplistic, the models are simple and crude, the cat’s animations are laughable. Basically, I (and I’m sure most other people) could make this game from scratch within a week. It’s a online free minigame at best.

And why am I annoyed? After only a couple weeks on Steam’s Greenlight page, it got fully green-lit for release on Steam. That Steam page has over 900 comments from excited gamers. A youtube video has over 200,000 views, and that’s not including the many other indie gamers who played it on their channel for fun. It got press from several websites, and a unofficial endorsement on Twitter by Cliff Bleszinski.

This is what is wrong with the gaming industry, and gamers as a whole. Never mind games that try to be art, or try to be serious, or try to be life-changing. Let’s make a mini-game about being a cat and sell it to people. The Internet loves cats and silly “watch-me-play” videos, so of course this idea will get the one developer making it plenty of money and press. Most reviewers or commenters basically say the same thing: “it’s stupid, but that’s why we love it.”

This is yet another lesson in the games industry: silly, fun things sell really, really well. Sometimes, people don’t want serious, thoughtful games. Video games are called games for a reason: they are supposed to be fun. Sometimes, quick and stupid fun that makes you forget the troubles and stresses of the world. That’s what many mobile and indie games are based on. That’s just how it is. In the age of the Internet, this type of thing will always find a large, eager audience. If you’re into that, go ahead a join that genre of developer, and if you aren’t, ignore it and focus on your own idea. You can’t compare the success that other games get to yours: that’s just not how it works. And as much as I want to tear my hair out, I’m probably just jealous that this one example of a game is doing so much better than mine. And there are dozens of games like this every month that find similar success.


“… You can’t compare the success that other games get to yours: that’s just not how it works…”


But for goodness sakes, do SOMETHING that makes it more than a two-minute mini-game and try to sell it!

Currently, the developer plans more levels and objects, and a couple new gameplay modes, but there still isn’t much promising here. And did it really take over six months for this one guy to make the game in its current alpha state (like I said, I could very easily clone this in under a week)!?!? Is he proud to tell people this is how he’s spending his life? At least games like “The Stanley Parable” and “Portal” tried to use simple gameplay mechanics and expand them, and used humor in a more engaging way. I hope the final version of “Catlateral Damage” has a story mode that does this, and makes you question your role as a destructive cat, or perhaps purposely drive your owner to suicide by setting traps. Then it might be worth talking about.

My apologies to Chris Chung, the developer behind this game. I admire that he’s found success. But that success feels so, so cheap, and I know there are hundreds of other games (not mine) that deserve more attention and praise. In the meantime, look out for my next indie game, “Super Meatball Sandwich Simulator: Spicy Edition,” coming soon for Steam and PewDiePie’s youtube channel.

… and yes, I did later play this game for two hours straight. Don’t judge me.