Low-Cost Games to Inspire Your Next Development Project

Sometimes, when you embark on a game development process, you know the general direction that you want to go in and the style or key features that you want to incorporate, but you struggle to land on those finishing touches. On the other hand, you may not know your end concept, needing to have a look around to get a sense of the themes and mechanics that are working well for others right now.

To help with this while looking beyond the headline-catching realms of triple-A gaming, we’re examining a few of the latest games, most popular genres, and inventive creations that are currently doing well. All of these games also tick the box for low cost, showing the bar for what can still be successful even without a $70 price tag.

Topical and satirical stories

Games with good fundamental mechanics and fun gameplay can always be built out further through the incorporation of a story running through the levels. A tried-and-trusted way of integrating an engaging story is to make it topical and even satirical. The gameplay itself doesn’t necessarily have to lean heavily into these topical themes, as cut scenes can fill in the gaps to add levity between the challenge of the game.

This is the angle that Terror of Hemasaurus has taken. Created by indie dev Loren Lemcke, it’s an arcade-style, retro destruction game in which you play as a kaiju to destroy cities and humanity. Why is this? The story tells you that you’ve been defrosted due to global warming and have come as a way to show humanity that there are real, visible consequences to climate change. With a few twists and turns along the way, it’s a very fun, straightforward game empowered by the satirical story.

Simple gameplay with the draw being the community

If you’re looking to create a fairly simplistic or even a totally randomized game, it’s always good to include some kind of community aspect. Leaderboards, usernames that can be seen live in the game, and chat features all help to keep people engaged, get them competing, and ultimately playing for longer. This method of creating a community around play continues to bolster even the most classic of games.

The most obvious example of this is how bingo has become so popular online. In each room, with new ones starting up at least every minute, you’ll see winners, usernames, and chat features. Most rooms are very low cost with much larger – in terms of scale – prizes to be won, which helps to keep encouraging people to play more bingo and keep chatting with their fellow players. It adds this extra tier of interaction for people around the core game.

Arcade gaming is back and booming

By arcade gaming, we’re not necessarily talking about the Apple Arcade or the mini-games termed “arcade games” on services like Xbox, but rather, digital versions of games found in arcade halls. We’re talking big-unit pinball, retro arcade game units, first-person racing games, and even claw-grab boxes. All of them are simple, direct, and casual. It was found that arcade games were the fastest-growing genre in mobile gaming last year.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this trend was Clawee. Boasting a 4.7 out of 5.0 review score on the App Store from 630,300 reviews, Clawee is literally a claw machine game on mobile. Better still, it’s real. You play on real claw machines through a live stream to grab prizes and get them delivered to you. Beyond Clawee, there’s arcade action in Space Shooter, Snake Run Race, Super Pac-Man, and Sonic CD Classic.

If you’re looking for some low-cost games to inspire an element of your next development project, the ones mentioned above are a good starting. point.

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