Is Garry Newman an indie?

Alex Calvin
Is Garry Newman an indie?

Garry Newman is arguably one of the most iconic indie devs working in the industry right now.

He was behind popular sandbox title Garry’s Mod, which at the start of the year had made over $30m and according to Newman should hit 5m copies sold since it launched in 2006. 

His studio Facepunch has since gone on to work on Rust, one of the big Early Access success stories, which – along with DayZ – brought a lot of attention to Valve’s new service. 

But in spite of the indie cred he has garnered, Newman finds it hard to wear that label. 

“Independent developer is kind of a funny label. Am I indie? Why? Because we’re not doing contract work, because we don’t have a publisher barking orders at us? It seems like that’s the majority of studios right now. Are Valve, id, Rockstar indie? At what point do we stop being indie?” he asks MCV.

“Independent developer is kind of a funny label.
Am I indie? Why? Because we’re not doing
contract work, because we don’t have a publisher
barking orders at us? It seems like that’s the
majority of studios right now. Are Valve, id, Rockstar
indie? At what point do we stop being indie?”


“We have a lot of creative freedoms. We can do whatever we want. Our only loyalties are to the people that play our games. We can get a bunch of talented people give them financial security to do what they love doing every day, and eventually they strike gold and we make more money.”

Whether he sees himself as indie or not, Newman has been very successful recently with his latest project, survival title Rust.

“We released Rust on Early Access assuming no-one would buy it and we’d have time to work on it. But that didn’t happen. It exploded and has sold 1.6m copies in six months. We’re working hard now to get it finished. Every week that goes by without an update is a slap in the face to the millions of people that bought it.”

Newman respects Valve for formalising the process of selling alpha builds of games. 

“Early Access is great. It’s great that Valve sees that there’s a lot of value in having people play your game while it’s still in development,” he explains. “But it’s not a new invention. It’s formalising and giving a name to what we’d all be doing anyway. You can’t release a game without people playing it. We sold Rust on our website for six months before Early Access came about.”

And while Rust is doing very well, Newman does not consider it to be his crowning achievement. 

“We released Rust on Early Access assuming no-one
would buy it and we’d have time to work on it. But that
didn’t happen. It exploded and has sold 1.6m copies in
six months. 
We’re working hard now to get it finished.
Every week that goes by without an update is a slap in
the face to the millions of people that bought it.”


“Garry’s Mod is without a doubt my biggest success – it should hit five million copies in a few weeks,” he says. “The thing I did right with Garry’s Mod was making it extremely moddable, so the community can feed itself. We’re hoping to replicate that in Rust” 

Newman concludes: “People need to want to mod a game. It has to leave people with a sense that they haven’t explored all the possibilities and they want more.

“If your game does that then you don’t even need to add modding support, because someone somewhere is already ripping it apart, finding out how it works and putting it back together in a different order.”

“Modding isn’t essential. You see a lot of companies that add ‘modding support’ to their games which is just a block-based level editor. You can’t just shoe-horn modding support into a game that it doesn’t belong in and have your game be successful because of that.

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Tags: independent , indie , rust , Garry Newman , Garry's Mod

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