Indie Mobile Game Developers Vs. Big Studios: Who Determines the Future of the Industry

Indie Mobile Game Developers Vs. Big Studios: Who Determines the Future of the Industry

It is estimated that the video game industry will generate approximately $337 billion annually by 2027, with more than 3 billion active gamers around the world. With nearly half of the world indulging in some form of video gaming, it is no wonder that the gaming industry is attracting more designers and developers than ever. Today, mobile gaming is becoming increasingly popular as the majority of the population gains access to some form of a smartphone.

Unfortunately, some of the large AAA game development companies often overshadow the production of smaller and more personalized indie games. Understanding the difference between indie mobile game developers and AAA, or triple-A development studios can help you to grasp the direction and future trajectory of the industries altogether.

Indie Mobile Game Development Vs. AAA Projects

In order to truly immerse yourself in the gaming industry, familiarizing yourself with both AAA developers and indie development companies is a must.

AAA Mobile Games: Games that are developed by triple-A companies, or large gaming development companies. Rockstar (Grand Theft Auto 4/Red Dead Redemption 2) along with Ubisoft (Tom Clancy franchise/Assasin’s Creed franchise). Typically, AAA developers have access to a large budget for both production as well as marketing, providing them with numerous advantages in terms of resources, project scope, timeline, and graphics.

Indie Mobile Games: Indie mobile games may be developed by smaller development companies that work in-house as well as by independent developers and programmers themselves. With many indie mobile games, budgets are significantly smaller than AAA mobile games, which may result in less visibility and potential reach. Indie mobile games can be developed on their own platforms and by individuals without extensive budgets. While some indie games are on par with today’s graphics, many indie mobile games are simplified in terms of playability, storyline, features, and graphics.

Both indie developers and large AAA development companies serve a purpose in the video games development industry today. While AAA companies create some of the most awe-inspiring graphics, indie companies and developers focus on enhancing gameplay with rich storylines and immersive interactions. Both AAA and indie development companies have played major roles in the advancement of the gaming industry and what it has become. Together, AAA development companies and indie developers can work together to create a future that looks optimistic for all gamers, regardless of the type of games and playing styles they prefer.

Why Indie Game Companies Can Still Beat Big Studios in Mobile Game Development

Although it may not seem possible for indie game developers to compete with the budget afforded to AAA development companies, many indie games still see success and thrive for years after their initial releases. Indie game companies are often managed in-house with a smaller team of developers, designers, and marketers. This allows the team to work together and collaborate in smaller spaces, rather than waiting weeks for meetings to implement new and improved updates into their latest gaming project.

Some of the most notable benefits of indie game development companies over triple-A companies that focus on mobile game development include:

  • Increased creative freedom: For developers and game designers who prefer flexibility and creative freedom, there is more of both when working for an indie mobile game development company. Creative freedom is the name of the game with independent games.
  • Shorter production terms: Because most indie mobile games are smaller and more compact than traditional AAA games, indie developers often have shorter production terms, allowing them more time to focus on new and exciting projects.
  • Purpose: With an indie developer or franchise, the goal is likely to be less about generating revenue and monetization, and more about gameplay and providing an enjoyable experience.
  • Unique ideas: Steer clear of formulaic plots and games based on algorithms with an indie mobile game development company, which is more likely to approach uniquely creatively fresh ideas.

How Top Game Dev Companies Conquer the Mobile Game Market

While in the past, console and desktop gaming ruled, the rise of mobile gaming has become increasingly present, regardless of where you are in the world. The rise of mobile gaming has attracted many AAA development companies, resulting in the abandonment of many AAA development projects for those playing on desktops and with various consoles (such as PS4/PS5, Xbox Series X, etc.).

Because the focus of gaming has shifted towards mobile gaming, many of the AAA development companies have chosen to turn their budgets to marketing mobile games of their own. This has resulted in the infiltration and domination of the mobile market by some of today’s leading game developers. A few of the leading AAA mobile games available to all include PUBG, The Elder Scrolls: Blades: Bethesda, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Asphalt 9: Legends. Although many of these games are still available via desktop or console, they are becoming increasingly popular among all mobile gamers using Android and iOS smartphones.

Indie and AAA Mobile Games Comparison

While AAA mobile games might include household names such as Call of Duty and PUBG, there are many indie games that have also become increasingly popular in recent years, such as Terraria, World of Goo, and, of course, Minecraft.

Pros of Indie Mobile Games Cons of Indie Mobile Games
Creative freedom is encouraged Lack of flow in some cases can result in lower-quality mobile games
Flexibility is available when working in smaller teams Less structure in some instances
Welcoming of new and fresh ideas Lack of budget to promote and market game
Work together in a small and collaborative environment Not as many resources as AAA developers available


Pros of AAA Mobile Games Cons of AAA Mobile Games
Big-picture productions with massive reach, both online and off Strict deadlines, timelines, and creative direction
Large budgets with access to modern marketing tools and resources Lack of creativity among developers and designers who are working on the mobile game
Impressive modern graphics May create games that are overpowering to casual players and gamers
Potential for great success May lack in rich storyline and/or character development in exchange for increased revenue

Blurring the Line Between Independent and AAA Mobile Game Development

Ultimately, both AAA development companies and independent developers both work together in a cooperative manner, often playing off of one another in the current marketplace. While a smaller indie company might benefit from the investment of a AAA developer, the AAA development company may also feel obligated to maintain their current projects based on the current competition from independent developers. The synergistic relationship between AAA companies and indie game developers is a lot more obvious than most may think. Whenever you choose to hire game development studio, it is important to know how to distinguish the difference between the two types of developers.

Understanding how both AAA game developers and independent indie developers work together and what they have to bring to the table is essential for any gamer or developer today. The more familiar you are with both indie development companies and AAA developers, the easier it is to navigate the gaming industry as both player and developer alike.