Don’t really see zines around much anymore, huh? You might see the odd zine being sold at conventions here and there, usually on a niche topic. If you came across it on the show floor, would you stop and pick up a zine that also gets you codes for a bunch of cool indie games?
Indiepocalypse is a hybrid gaming zine and itch.io bundle started by Andrew a.k.a PizzaPranks. Each issue curates codes for 10+ indie games each month. The game bundle is coupled with a PDF zine that showcases each game, includes comics and other content alongside them. The indie developers included in the zine are also paid upfront and recieve royalties for their contribution, which is an incredibly cool initiative considering many indie devs on itch don’t see a dime for their work.
The zine started in 2020 when Andrew was developing games himself. “I would constantly run across this point where I was working on something, but then I don’t want to keep working on what I needed to do to make this into a saleable video game that the market will accept,” Andrew says. “I don’t want to make this thing six to eight hours minimum or whatever. But also you can’t put out an hour-long game and make money, and it’d be nice to make money for your craft. You know?”
Indiepocalypse, and everything that grew out of it, came from Andrew asking himself a simple question: ‘What if I just did it?’ He decided that if anybody was going to curate a bundle of small indie games to ‘get people used to shorter games and paying for them’, it was going to be him. Thus, Indiepocalypse was born.
In embracing the zine format, Andrew explains that the idea initially came from his love for indie comics. “I like comics quite a bit, like independent comics. You can go to indie comic shows where people will sell these books that are 20-24 pages for $10-$15, and they would sell out,” he explains. “I got fatigued on comic anthologies. Clearly, the format works, and it’s a good template to go on.” He continues to explain that anthologies like this are an untouched market in the games industry. “Fiction anthologies exist, and sometimes record companies will put out samplers and that kind of thing, but in games, it doesn’t quite exist.”
I asked Andrew if he’s had any favourite games in the zine thus far, which of course is very cruel. You should never ask a parent who their favourite child is unless you know it’s you. “This was a lot easier when there were only six issues,” he says. “I would say one of my 100% go-to’s is from Issue #3. It’s called Conurbation. It’s this visually and audibly intense game about urbanisation, and it’s just very cool.” Conurbation is made by Brazilian game developer Caique Assis, which led Andrew to expand on the global diversity seen in Indiepocalypse’s content. To date, the zine has featured games from over 20 different countries. “You’ve got people all over the world that have submitted games and been included, with all sorts of styles and backgrounds.”
Andrew also mentions Colestia, an Australian game developer that I spoke to recently about his leftist approach to game development. “He [Colestia] did a commission game for Indiepocalypse #17. It was a game called Our Jubilee, and he opted not to release it on his own page yet, so it’s still only available through that.” This prompts me to ask about exclusivity in Indiepocalypse, to which Andrew replied, “The commission games are exclusive for at least a month. Generally speaking, if you want to get that game early on, or if the developer opts to not release it on their own page, yeah, it’s fully exclusive there.”
As mentioned earlier, something that really stuck out to me about Indiepocalypse is how featured developers are paid upfront and receive royalties. I asked Andrew why this is an important aspect for him in the delivery of the zine. “First of all, I think people need money,” he replies simply.
He elaborated on this point. “I saw too many cases of the same people at local events with the same game, year after year. And then, when you pop up on the Steam charts after releases, you see it peaked at five concurrent users. There’s got to be a better way than spending five years of your life on this real all-or-nothing gamble. Not everyone wants to do that sort of thing.” Andrew explains that on his Indiepocalypse radio show, where he’ll have contributors to the zine come on to talk about their games and Indiepocalypse, developers have expressed what the zine has done for them. “Enough of these developers have told me, ‘Oh wow, there’s Indiepocalypse, the most money I’ve ever made off of games’.”
Towards the end of the interview, Andrew says something that really says with me.
“There needs to be a world for those kinds of developers to not be like, ‘Well, here’s my game for free, because this is the only way I can publish anything,’ And that’s it.”
While not every game is created for the sole purpose of making money, we do live in an era where we pay artists for commissions. Why not game developers? For $15, you can get a bunch of indie games that a myriad of creators have put hard work and dedication into. It’s pretty fuckin’ sweet if you ask me.
If you’d like to check out the zine for yourself, you can head to the Pizza Pranks website, where all issues are available with a rundown of what games are included in the zine. If you’re an indie developer that would like to be a part of the zine, you can head to the Indiepocalyse submission page.