Indie gaming is a popular pastime. Often, indie games are developed without a company’s assistance – in many cases by independent game designers. Unlike the case with the larger development firms, there’s little to no betting scene around indie gaming, although that could be about to change.
Looking down the current list of esports betting sites on www.bettingsites.info, it becomes clear that there are some names that dominate the esports sector to a far greater extent than others. Valve Corporation, which publishes CS:GO, is one. And California-based Blizzard Entertainment, which publishes Overwatch, is another. Is it likely, or even possible, that the same could happen to the far more grassroots indie scene? This article will explore the question.
Yes: it’s likely
Right now, there is no indie gaming betting scene to speak of. The closest thing to a gaming betting scene is the rise of esports as a category for many bookmakers. In the esports betting world, gamblers place wagers based on the likelihood of particular outcomes in video game competitions. As mentioned above, there is little in the way of betting options for indie gamers – and there are very few options for odds on games such as Enter the Gungeon or Cuphead.
However, the existence of the esports betting scene does offer some hope to those waiting to see an indie gaming betting scene emerge. Because it’s such a new market, it makes sense that the current betting scene is anchored around the biggest games, such as League of legends, which won Best Esports Game at the 2019 Game Awards. Bookmakers are, after all, deeply attuned to risk. They are unlikely to take a risk on offering odds on a decentralized market, which is what the indie gaming sector is, until they know for certain that it will pay off.
As the esports sector beds in and bookmakers begin to become more comfortable with it as a concept based around low-risk, big names like Pokémon, though, the sentiment could well trickle down. Passion is a key driver of many indie game consumers, and that means it can be translated into a profitable betting scene over time. Given that an indie gamer spends hours of time every week playing, it’s not too much of a leap to assume that monetizing that passion from time to time might be fun.
No: it’s unlikely
However, it certainly would not be prudent for fans of indie gaming to make the assumption that a fully-fledged betting scene will spring up around it any time soon. It’s worth noting that the indie gaming scene is quite decentralized, which could reduce the chances of a so-called scene emerging around it. In the wider gambling industry, the trend is increasingly stretching towards partnerships between the sport in question and the betting providers who can provide the odds.
This sort of mutually beneficial partnership is already being seen in the NFL, for example. Earlier this month, it was revealed that the Denver Broncos signed a gambling partnership deal, and there are similar examples across organized, big league sports. To some, it’s difficult to see an equivalent ever really taking hold in indie gaming, given that the corporate weight required for such a partnership is simply not there.
And there’s also the question of demand. Many indie gamers choose to avoid games created by corporations, for values-based reasons. These might be anchored around an objection to advertising, for example, or there may be a concern about the commercialized nature of betting. These values are often related to an overarching objection or unwillingness to participate in unnecessary financial transactions. If this behavior persists over time, it may be difficult for betting and odds providers to break into the market.
Ultimately, the jury is still out on whether the indie gaming sector is likely to have a related gambling scene develop around it in the coming months or years. Some fans of indie gaming would really love to be able to bet on the outcomes of indie gaming tournaments – and many players would no doubt appreciate the opportunity to do so. But it’s also worth noting that some other indie gamers have made a conscious decision to opt out of the slightly more commercialized world of mainstream gaming, and as a result might resist such developments. Time is likely to be the only way to tell whether wagering on indie games will become common any time soon.