Opinion: There’s a huge opportunity for indie games merchandise

There seems to be a small mountain of merchandise for most triple-A releases at the moment, but Insert Coin’s Dan Long believes there is also a real appetite for indie game merchandise.

When it comes to merchandising for video games, people often only stop to think about the big hitters – the blockbuster titles that dominate the landscape of the industry.

However, it isn’t just the largest games that can make an impact – indie titles can easily defy expectations and carve out more than a fair share for themselves.

While the overall scope of many indie games can be small to start off with, their cultural impact can be huge. Being more affordable, more character- or experience-driven, and more experimental can engender a stronger bond with the players – and encourage even fiercer brand loyalty than some of their bigger triple-A cousins.

Indeed, fans are perhaps even more driven to represent the ‘underdog’, or the underground title that most of their friends haven’t heard of yet – let alone played.

From our own experience, the love for merchandise from indie titles can be on par with – if not exceed – the expectations of the biggest mainstream titles. We’ve had the honour of working with a wide variety of video game IPs – from some of the biggest to some of the smallest. The one thing we continue to observe is that the passion to ‘represent’ doesn’t diminish in scale with the size of the game itself. Big or small, new or old, mainstream or ‘indie’ – games of all shapes and sizes have the potential to make the leap into the world of merchandise.

Our Hotline Miami Jacket, inspired by the character of the same name, is a great example. We’ve completed four production runs so far. Each one has started to sell out in days at the preorder stage, before they could even go on general sale. For the right game – and the right product to represent it – the appetite is huge.

"From our own experience, the love for
merchandise from indie titles can be on
par with – if not exceed – the expectations
of the biggest mainstream titles."

Dan Long, Insert Coin

The size and scale of the indie business also benefits our particular style – focusing on ideas from within a game’s own lore, rather than resorting to sticking to pre-prepared style guides or box cover art.

The developers behind indie games are naturally hands-on with all aspects of their business, intensely passionate about the worlds and characters they create, and have an encyclopaedic knowledge at their fingertips. All of these traits help us to steer the development of products and provides us with a uniquely personal insight into the game’s creative process too.

In turn, this more intimate, immediate kind of approach works well with games that have developed a strong community – a passionate audience who want to take their affinity with the game to the next level.

When it comes to merchandise, there is a definite desire to show the world that you are part of a ‘club’ – something passionate, innovative and unique.

Whether it’s big or small, if a game has those key attributes in its arsenal, it definitely has the potential to make the jump from the virtual world and into real life.

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