The competition isn't always about being the biggest. Storied franchises like “Grand Theft Auto” and blockbuster newcomers like “Destiny” earn billions even with a 'B' review, but despite ballooning budgets not every game is a hit. 

Under the hood

Part of the shift is thanks to a surfeit of computing power tucked inside everything we use. Video games have taken advantage of our always-connected world, employing not just our computers and game consoles but our phones, our tablets, even our watches. 

This explosion has helped create entirely new opportunities for game developers outside of the traditional AAA console model, and it has helped create an amazing range of experiences unlike anything the industry has ever seen.

 

DIY dollars

Indie developers have rewritten the rules on game development, challenged our assumptions of what video games can be and introduced fresh new voices into the medium at a time when it needed them most. 

 "Video games have taken advantage of our always-connected world, employing not just our computers and game consoles but our phones, our tablets, even our watches."

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have allowed talented teams to circumvent traditional publishers and take risks with our money directly. 

Beyond graphics

This explosion of computing power has also led to new innovations in hardware beyond simply better graphics. 

 Virtual reality startup Oculus was purchased by Facebook last year for $2 billion, and has yet to ship a retail product. Sony is designing a similar virtual reality headset for its PlayStation 4 console, codenamed Project Morpheus, that it expects to make available in the first half of next year. Microsoft has been earning accolades for its HoloLens augmented reality headset, which blends the virtual with the actual. All three will appear at this year's E3 and are likely to be the talk of the show.

Implications for the indies

While it's frustrating that indie games don't have a larger presence at the industry's biggest event, the fact that E3 can no longer represent all "video games" and is instead about the biggest video games is a victory. Video games are bigger than any one event, and they're only getting bigger.