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Top 10 Indie Games That Made it BIG!

VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Script Written by Nathan Sharp

These are those low budget, super pixelated, quirky art style, simple premise, hipster loving indie games that struck gold and became enormous successes! From retro platformers to Minecraft clones, mobile games to couch Co-op madness, join http://WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Indie Games that Made it BIG!

Special thanks to our user “Babbaj” for suggesting this topic using our interactive suggestion tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest
Transcript
We're living in a time when indie games are becoming just as popular as high budget, triple A games, and these creations prove it. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the top ten indie games that made it big.

For this list, we're looking at those independently produced video games that became immensely popular in the mainstream. We're basing our decision both on the games’ critical acclaim, and most importantly, its popularity in the mainstream market. We won't be counting indie games that were distributed by mainstream companies, such as “No Man's Sky” and “Journey.” In order to be eligible, the game must have been developed and distributed completely independently.

#10: “FTL: Faster Than Light” (2012)

What's amazing about “FTL” is that it was developed by only two people: Matthew Davis and Justin Ma, both ex-employees of 2K Games who became disillusioned with mainstream gaming and sought out the independent market. What resulted from their curiosity was one of the finest indie games of the year, complete with a punishing difficultly, imaginative situations, and gorgeous music, even winning major industry awards for the latter. “FTL” is also notable for being one of the first games released with the help of Kickstarter, raising over $200,000 and proving that this method could be beneficial to both gamers and indie developers alike.

#9: “Fez” (2012)

“Fez” is perhaps best known for its dramatic production, led by its outspoken lead designer, Phil Fish, and covered in the film “Indie Game: The Movie.” After quitting his job and dedicating his time fully to “Fez,” Fish became known as a temperamental perfectionist, and even discussed killing himself should he be unable to finish the game. However, after countless irritating delays, finish it he did, and “Fez” was released to positive reviews, mostly due to its charming retro style, and has since sold over one million copies. This game capitalized on the public’s newfound interest in indie games, and is one of the most successful because of it.

#8: “Undertale” (2015)

Led by one man and one man only, “Undertale” was not only one of the best indie games of 2015, but is quite possibly one of the best indie games ever released. “Undertale” was developed, written, and scored solely by Toby Fox, who was barely even experienced in developing video games, aside from a few small RPGs he made with his brothers on RPG Maker 2000. However, he proved to be a natural, and through the game’s terrific writing, relatable and well-rounded characters, and unique combat system, “Undertale” quickly caught on with mainstream audiences and has since sold over one million copies on Steam, and creating one of the most dedicated gaming fanbases we’ve seen in recent years.

#7: “Rocket League” (2015)

Developer Psyonix released a game in 2008 for the PS3, annoyingly titled “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars,” and although it sold relatively well, it wasn't considered a success. By changing its name to the far more simple “Rocket League” and tweaking the gameplay, including adding the now signature neon art style, Psyonix had a masterpiece in multiplayer gaming on their hands. Praised for its fast pace, simple gameplay, and addictive nature, “Rocket League” became a runaway success, selling over six million copies in one year, earning more than $100 million in revenue, and becoming an officially sponsored eSport by joining ESL. Sometimes even the simplest games are the most fun.

#6: “Shovel Knight” (2014)

Serving as the first video game released by Yacht Club Games, “Shovel Knight” is a loving, nostalgia-ridden ode to the NES era, coming equipped with beautiful, old school graphics, gameplay, and music. Announced alongside a Kickstarter campaign (as many indie games are), “Shovel Knight” eventually raised over $300,000, and even when that amount ran dry, they were still able to continue development out of dedication. Players and critics alike greatly enjoyed the nostalgia trip, and the game has sold over 1.2 million copies, with PS4 and Xbox One versions getting Kratos and the Battletoads to appear as cameos, and the Wii U version getting it’s own Amiibo.

#5: “Braid” (2008)

Arguably the game that started it all, “Braid” brought indie gaming to the mainstream and provided players with one of the most unique gaming experiences of the late 2000s. Developed by Jonathan Blow with the help of David Hellman providing the game’s beautiful artwork, “Braid” was renowned for its mature story, transcendent music, and challenging, but ultimately rewarding, puzzles. Blow wanted to deconstruct video game trends with “Braid,” but in the process, he may have started a trend himself. “Braid” caught everyone's attention and is now rightfully considered to be the game that kickstarted the mainstream indie movement.

#4: “Terraria” (2011)

Designed by the three men who form Re-Logic, “Terraria” is a two dimensional survival/adventure game with a heavy emphasis on exploration, crafting, and combat. Complete with retrospective, SNES-era graphics and exploration-based gameplay, “Terraria” harkens back to the golden age of Nintendo, bringing to mind oldies but goodies like “Super Metroid.” This blend of adventure and nostalgia seemed to please gamers, as “Terraria” was a massive success, and has sold over 18 million copies and counting. Those numbers would be staggering for a AAA title, let alone an independently-produced one, proving, paradoxically, that indie games are now the mainstream.

#3: “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (2014)

After his previous game was deemed unintentionally terrifying, developer Scott Cawthon went with the more intentional approach, and by God he succeeded in scaring the pants off everyone. Like we see in film, horror is usually done right when taken in the most basic, primitive direction. The cheap approach to this game, such as having minimal music, ends up helping it in the long run, as the game relies on ever-increasing tension to generate scares rather than a more high-budgeted, in-your-face-approach like we see in AAA horror. The game was a wild success, become a major hit with Youtube Lets Players, four sequels, and a lifelong fear of Chuck E. Cheese’s.

#2: “Angry Birds” (2009)

It's not often that mobile games spawn pop culture phenomenons, but “Angry Birds” pulled it off, becoming one of the most profitable and popular video games of the 21st century. The game holds the record for most days atop the Apple Paid Apps Chart at 275, and had been downloaded fifty million times within its first year of release. Like a popular movie, the success of the video game led to merchandising, like toys and cookbooks, and other forms of media, including a movie and a television series. Suffice to say, this indie game made more than a few waves in the pop culture scene of the 2010s.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Killing Floor” (2009)

“Hotline Miami” (2012)
“Stardew Valley” (2016)

#1: “Minecraft” (2011)

Upon first glance, “Minecraft” may seem like an unfinished version of a better game, especially due to its “blocky,” primitive graphics. However, this didn't deter players from experiencing the most popular indie game of all time. Originally designed by one man and released without advertising, “Minecraft” spread through simple word-of-mouth and became a phenomenon. Over 106 million copies of “Minecraft” have been sold, making it the best-selling PC game and second best-selling video game of all time, second only to “Tetris.” It's amazing what simple word-of-mouth will do, but when you have a game this much fun, it's easy to understand the success that it's accumulated.
Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most successful indie game? For more start-up top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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