Regarding video games, blockbuster franchises like Grand Theft of Auto, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario dominate the front pages. Unsurprisingly, entries such as Mario Kart and GTA 5 rank among the best-selling titles ever. Apart from industry giants like Nintendo and Rockstar Games, many independent studios have also had their time to shine.
Although this definition may seem broad, an indie game is the work of a small publisher with fewer budgetary means than its AAA counterparts or even a single developer in some instances. That said, less money allocated to production and marketing doesn’t necessarily stop a game from taking over the world. This article will examine some best-selling indie games that have entered the mainstream with a bang.
Even non-gamers have heard about Minecraft, as this sandbox title has become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon. The game has been referenced in several mediums, from animated series to manga and movies. Besides, the astonishingly detailed reproductions of iconic fictional locations like King’s Landing, Hogwarts, or Minas Tirith have consistently kept Minecraft relevant in the mainstream.
With a whopping 238 million copies sold as of April 2021 and probably a few million more in between, Minecraft is nothing less than the second-best-selling game of all time. Granted, this cult classic has been ported on virtually every gaming device in the book. Casual mobile users can even mine resources alongside friends to build their dream structure in multiplayer mode. And with DLCs and updates enhancing the experience regularly, the Minecraft hype isn’t showing any sign of abating.
Created by the independent game developer Re-Logic, Terraria still sells like hotcakes twelve years after its initial launch. First released on PC, this action-adventure sandbox title has been ported since to home consoles such as the Xbox One and the PS4. And with over 44 million units sold worldwide, Terraria comfortably sits among the best-selling indie video games ever.
Factoring in that this indie gem had sold 30 million copies in early 2020, it has seemingly increased its total sales by a staggering 50% in recent years. Mixing craft, survival, combat, and exploration in single-player or multiplayer mode, Terraria fits the mobile niche particularly well. Nine million Terrarians have bought the game on Google Play or the App Store.
Rocket League has had such a profound impact on the esports sphere that it’s easy to forget this high-octane soccer game with a kick was developed by an independent publisher. Eleven months into its release, Rocket League’s sales numbers already peaked at 5 million. Fast-forward to 2023, and this bombastic multiplayer title about rocket-powered cars shooting up gigantic balls has hit the 40 million sales threshold.
The game’s deceptively addictive concept doesn’t only appeal to soccer fans. Halfway between the craziness of a car derby and the tactical edge of indoor soccer, this arcade-inspired title packs too much fun for gamers of all playing styles not to take the wheel. While beginners can casually ram into rivaling vehicles to play defense, seasoned gamers can dive straight into competitive play to score gravity-defying goals.
Perhaps the best-known farming sim in history, Stardew Valley has sold over 20 million copies globally. Considering a single developer crafted this laid-back rural life simulator, these hefty figures seem all the more impressive. Eric Barone – aka ConcernedApe – took the genre to the next level with a game teeming with content. In Stardew Valley, players can harvest crops to cook savory dishes, breed animals to expand their farm, and even socialize with the townsfolk.
Fun seasonal events and minigames await, from the saloon’s vintage arcades to slot machines unlocked at the desert casino. Gambling enthusiasts may find these pokies a tad lackluster, however. If so, real money slots are right at their fingertips. Top online casinos offer hundreds of progressive jackpot slots for players looking to hit it big. Special features like expanding wilds and multipliers might improve the odds of landing handsome cash winnings. A range of welcome bonuses and loyalty rewards also help fund a bankroll.
Independent games often have difficulty catching the public eye in an industry saturated with high-production content backed by robust marketing. Countless underrated indie gems fade into oblivion, no matter their sheer gameplay quality. Still, many indie games manage to profit while delighting gamers with fresh ideas and concepts.