Recent examples have shown that it is possible to make a lot of money in the casual games business re-skinning existing game designs. I look at this as an affirmation of some of the culture values that have been around this forum community since it's inception. "Pick a niche you can be successful in and target it", "Have direct sales, own your customer, and leverage portals for additional profit", "Commit to your indie business (go full time?)". All of these goals / directives are achievable by targeting the casual game niche. Despite the general perception of casual games being the be-all and end-all of downloadable games (and independent games for that matter). I maintain that they are every bit as much a niche as RTS and Adventure games are. Granted these niche's have grown into their own genera's but they are still an sub segment of the market with particular tastes and needs that are readily identifiable. Casual games have proven to be a niche that is very exploitable with proven formulas for success. Hence it's attraction to the larger players, it's still a high margin market and the formula for success is repeatable and profitable. Take a hit game and re-skin it or derive from it or add to it and then release it. Granted you aren't guaranteed success but your chances are much higher then if you did something entirely different and new. "So what does this have to do Imagination?" you ask. I don't know how many of you sketch for personal enjoyment but those of you who do I expect will instantly relate to this. When you make a sketch in your sketchbook, what is it's purpose? I would wager that there is something cool in your imagination that you want to capture on paper. In the end, the person who gets the greatest value from your sketch is you. To see your idea realized is satisfaction in itself, being able to share that with others is just an added benefit. So let me ask you this, when you sketch do you think about who you are trying to impress with your sketch? Do you think, "would people be willing to pay for this?" or do you think "How can i make this sketch so that my mom and sister will enjoy it". Now if you sketch for a living, or your are sketching for your mom or sister you may. But for the most part if you have the freedom to sketch whatever you want, you are going to sketch something that's cool to you. The thing is when you open up your sketchbook with an idea, you are exercising your artistic freedom to do whatever the hell you want, limited only by your own skills and the tools you have at your disposal. Those who have gotten this far will have guessed the direction of my analogy already. I think we as a community have over emphasized making games for a living, for profit, and for markets. I think we have lost sight of the fundamental thing that makes us independents. The ability to exercise our artistic freedom and make something that captures our imagination. Generally we do not emphasize this aspect of indie game development here because every beginning game developer has this attribute in spades. They have the next best MMORTSRPG in their minds and they are trying to recruit a team of artists and programmers to make it for them. I think we downplay this enthusiasm, imagination, and passion because it is commonly associated with pie in the sky beginners. In doing so however, we diminish one of the most fundamental attributes of being independent, the freedom to follow our imaginations. We limit ourselves to the same things that limit businesses built around game development. We consider too strongly profitability, distribution, and marketability and we sacrifice creative expression, imagination and artistic freedom. I don't want this to be yet another line in the sand to determine who is a "REAL" indie and who isn't. At best that is a counter productive activity. What I would like to do is encourage independent developers to do what interests them. As indies we have the freedom to put Passion before Profitability and we may be the only group of game developers with that freedom. I feel that we are remiss in not exercising it and recognizing it as as community, if not us then who?