The Best Up and Coming Indie Game Developers of 2023

cup head game

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Indie games offer the possibility for small innovations to become global sensations, and two of the top-selling video games of all time – Tetris and Minecraft – both started out as independent projects.

ConcernedApe made waves with his Harvest Moon-inspired dating sim Stardew Valley and is looking to build upon that success with an eye-catching shooter called Hellscreen that features distinctive styling and engaging gameplay.

Studio MDHR

Studio MDHR is best known for creating Cuphead, an adorable run-and-gun shooter based on classic cartoons that is available both for Xbox One and PC platforms. Players take on the roles of Cuphead or his brother Mugman as they battle bosses and collect coins.

The team behind this popular indie title had no formal training and began working on it from their homes in Ontario. Reworking ideas until they found something they felt could be published was their mantra.

Cuphead developer StudioMDHR recently released two DLC packs for Cuphead, but announced this would be its final expansion. Delicious Last Course brings with it playable character Miss Chalice; however, no sequel plans exist at this time.

Mobius Digital

Mobius Digital, creators of Outer Wilds, have been widely acclaimed for their groundbreaking approach to game design and stunning visuals. Additionally, Journey by Mobius Digital was widely celebrated as an emotional experience through gaming.

After an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign on Fig, Outer Wilds development seemed poised for rapid advancement. When Annapurna Interactive entered the picture and became involved, however, things took an abrupt turn for the worse – creative director and lead game designer Alex Beachum explained to Motherboard, they “are pushing for increased quality while shortening development cycles.

Due to this change, some features no longer supported by Mobius Digital will no longer be offered for customer purchase. Mobius Digital will communicate with customers as the deprecated features are phased out at appropriate milestones.

Coffee Stain Studios

Coffee Stain Studios takes great pride in crafting their games to ensure every pixel, brushstroke and musical note are carefully considered when creating them. Their innovative approach to game development and storytelling has propelled them forward as industry pioneers.

They recently released the Early Access hit Satisfactory, and are currently working on Update 6 which will include a comprehensive overhaul of combat mechanics, the addition of new creatures, and enhanced visuals. Furthermore, this developer is working on two more titles such as side-scrolling Huntdown and an unannounced third title.

Coffee Stain Studio comprises two Studios – Coffee Stain North and Lavapotion as well as Coffee Stain Publishing – along with small stakes in Ghost Ship Games and Easy Trigger Games; many players find this structure disorienting as CSS is only one among many other studios.

Team Cherry

Team Cherry Studios have become one of the go-to indie development teams after the success of Hollow Knight in 2016, which made an instant impactful statement about themselves to gamers worldwide. Now with Silksong in development, fans eagerly anticipate its release.

Studio began in Adelaide, South Australia where they employed several dozen people ranging from technical directors to environment designers to develop its games. Pellen and Gibson first gained exposure in the games industry by participating in game jams where Hollow Knight was first created.

At the close of 2019, Team Cherry published a blog post detailing their plans to take a break, marking their last update on their studio’s website before going silent for several months.

Night School Studio

Night School Studio’s Oxenfree II: Lost Signals will soon be arriving for release, making clear their impressive track record as game developers. Although a smaller team, their reputation is well established within the gaming community.

Developer Oculus Games may not be one of the biggest studios, but their four releases speak volumes: 2016’s critically acclaimed Oxenfree; Mr. Robot tie-in 1.51exfiltrati0n; pub crawl through hell adventure Afterparty and space adventure Next Stop Nowhere are just a few highlights.

Netflix’s acquisition of Night School signals its entry into video game development. Though Netflix may not provide developers with budgets of $200 million as it did with New Mexico production facility ABQ Studios and Millarworld series 1, creators may work on projects they feel passionately about.

Toby Fox

Developer Toby Fox is hard at work developing Deltarune, his sequel to Undertale. The initial chapter was released back in October 2018 and recently, Toby shared an update regarding its progress.

Fox boasts of having completed over half of Chapter 1, including some innovative gameplay elements and is now working on finishing off the overworld area.

Fox created Undertale on his own, though he received assistance with sprites and Japanese translations from various contributors. The credits of Undertale list the names of both these artists as well as Kickstarter backers who helped fund it. Furthermore, in his most recent update he announced that he is looking for developers to join his team.