Indie Games, Wizards, and Gleemax

There’s an interesting post by Randy Buehler, the new VP of Digital Gaming at Wizards, on his blog at Gleemax. Halfway down he describes their upcoming Indie Strategy Game Portal.

Being recently introduced to Gleemax, which is still in its infancy as a gaming community site, I’m undecided about its prospects as a game portal. On one hand, there is the question of objectivity. Will Wizards be able to promote games made by others alongside their own offerings, without bias? On the other hand, as the makers of Magic and D&D (among others) they have an enormous following and recognition, which may provide a built-in fanbase. Especially as they seek to support their newest iteration of D&D (and magazines Dragon and Dungeon) with moves into the online sphere and bring more of their gaming to the web.

It is the latter point which gives me hope for Gleemax and its impact on indie games. Wizards has proven their ability to go digital with Magic Online. In the offline space, they have developed or acquired many of the top games and brands in gaming. They have elevated Magic to the level of professional worldwide competition. Millions of people play their games. With their clout they can introduce the best of indie games to members of the community that might never have seen them otherwise.

When it comes to indie game developers, specifically those who are self-publishing, marketing their games is typically one of the biggest challenges. Wizards, stepping into the role of producing a gaming community site and indie games portal, can potentially ease that challenge quite a bit. If I were an indie game developer (someday), I might consider seriously trading a cut of sales for the targeted exposure they could offer.

As long as Wizards sticks to their promise of recommending the best games, not just those which appear to offer lucrative commissions, gamers everywhere stand to benefit as well.