GTA 6, The Game Awards and the great indie debate | This week's gaming news

Let's dive in!

Amazon/The Game Awards/Rockstar Games

After a slow month in the world of video game marketing, things are starting to pick up. The past week has given us a first look at the new Fallout TV show, a few release dates and a trailer for a little game called Grand Theft Auto VI — and the Game Awards are still to come. What good timing for us to launch a weekly video game show to dig into the news.

The Game Awards logo
The Game Awards

The Game Awards will go live on Thursday, December 7, at 7:30PM ET. Expect a few hours of game announcements, new trailers, awkward interviews and musical performances, including one by the fictional band from Alan Wake 2.

Fallout TV show
Amazon MGM Studios

Amazon dropped the first trailer for its live-action Fallout series — and, man, it sure does look like Fallout. The show is set in Los Angeles 200 years after the nuclear apocalypse, and it stars Yellowjackets actor Ella Purnell, plus Walton Goggins, Aaron Moten and Kyle MacLachlan. It’s heading to Prime Video on April 12, 2024.

The biggest news item this week, pre-The Game Awards, was the first official trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI. As of writing it's already reached 105 million views on YouTube — a pace usually reserved for only the finest K-Pop videos. GTA VI is set in Vice City, it’s coming out in 2025 and I'm sure we’ll hear a lot more about it before then.

Dave the Diver

The meat of this week’s episode focuses on the longstanding debate about what “indie” actually means. One of the titles nominated for Best Independent Game at the Game Awards, Dave the Diver, was commissioned and bankrolled by Nexon, one of the largest video game studios in South Korea. It’s not indie, and its inclusion in this category highlights how little consensus there still is around the definition.

This is kinda my area of expertise — it’s my 13th year as a video game journalist and indie games have always been a core feature of my reporting. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I mean when I say “indie,” so I sat down and formalized this thought process. There are three questions that can help define a game in an indie gray area: Is the team on the mainstream system’s payroll? Is the game or team owned by a platform holder? Do the artists have creative control? I dug into these questions this week, and discuss how having a publisher isn’t related to the indie label at all.

But when all else fails in the indie debate, there’s one ultimate question to ask: Can this team exist without my support? This is why the distinction matters: The indie label helps to identify the artists that would not exist without game sales, crowdfunding or word-of-mouth support from players. It exists to determine the teams that are truly living and dying on game sales, and it helps players decide where to spend their money. If Dave the Diver didn’t sell well, its team would likely have the chance to try again. If, say, Pizza Tower didn’t sell well, its studio could have folded.

I think this is an important conversation, so give that story a read and let us know in the comments if you think my questions help or just make things more confusing. It’s probably a little bit of both.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood on Steam Deck — it’s the latest game from Deconstructeam, the indie studio that made The Red Strings Club and Gods Will Be Watching. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is a game about building tarot decks, manipulating elections, betraying a coven of witches and seducing everyone; it’s sexy and well-written, and I highly recommend it. Another game I’m looking forward to is A Highland Song from indie studio Inkle; it just came out this week and I’m excited to dive in.

Let us know in the comments what you’re playing! Also, we still don’t know what to call this weekly video game news show, so leave us some name suggestions, too. Thanks!