I have this theory that consumers are more willing to try unknown and experimental products because they’ve spent the last fifteen years being inundated with email links encouraging them to check out funny videos, shocking pictures, political or religious rants, or whatever. We’ve been receiving these links for so long that they’re no longer novel or nuisance — they’re part of the very fabric of things.
Since each of these links comes with an implicit recommendation from a friend to take a look — you got it via email, after all (or Facebook and Twitter these days) – it reduces security fears and compels you to proceed. But you really have no idea what you’re about to encounter. I believe the sheer volume and variety has broken down resistance to trying new things and set a low bar for results. You expect it’s probably bad, but you’re willing to try it anyway because it’s new and fresh.
That’s huge for indie games. Let’s face it: most of them are crap. But in a world where folks are at least willing to take a quick look anyway, these games are given a small chance to reach their potential. Hidden gems are no longer completely buried for lack of attention, and even if the game is bad, consumers are not being turned off to the whole notion of indie games.
Of course, the causal link could be weak and there may be some other underlying factor (e.g. the internet has reduced the friction to communicate with others substantially, and the quantity of content itself has boomed thanks to new tools and technology; either of those may be a sufficient explanation by themselves). But it’s worth considering that, as much as the internet has balkanized different groups around specific subjects or opinions, people seem remarkably open to trying new things.