Before Limited Run Games set small-press console gaming alight, Indie Box was offering a similar service for PC games. Each month would focus on a specific indie title, giving it the big-box treatment and stuffing the package full of exclusive goodies. Axiom Verge, for example, came with a mini-statue of the cyber-head of Elsanova, while Galak-Z had a both mech and ship figures included. The packaging was always top-notch, there were stickers and soundtracks included, and a lot of care went into the design of the box and its goodies. Even the USB stick that each DRM-free version of the game came on was themed properly, although if you didn’t want to open the box and play with the goodies inside the shipping container had a Steam key inside it. IndieBox did great work for physical gaming, but that’s over now.
On a post on the front page of their site, IndieBox has announced it has to suspend its subscription service. The games it produced were sold as a monthly subscription for each title, and I’ll admit to being caught a couple of times receiving a box I didn’t plan on when forgetting to cancel. It wasn’t super-convenient but it’s how the games were sold, and canceling after getting the game you wanted wasn’t that hard. The system worked for over 3,000 people, but with the expenses of each month’s release that simply wasn’t enough. While IndieBox isn’t completely dying, instead switching over to an online storefront, there will be no more of their fantastic physical editions once Invisible Inc. and Torchlight II are fully delivered.
It’s sad to see IndieBox go, especially seeing as nobody else is doing the work they did in that kind of volume. My copies of Hollow Knight, Axiom Verge, and Nuclear Throne wouldn’t have been a fraction as entertaining in standard retail editions, and the subscription prices were more than reasonable for what was in the box. (The Hollow Knight t-shirt exclusive to purchase by subscribers was an incredible design, and if they can’t do games any more then hopefully they’ve can at least do a few more shirts.) It’s easy to finger-point and say “Maybe they’d have survived if…” but it misses the point that the people behind IndieBox were making the product and taking the risks on what worked and what didn’t, and if those choices came out a certain way it’s because they either had to or it looked like the best possible option. The final tally of deluxe releases stands at a nice, round 40, and despite a wish there could have been more it’s a good legacy to leave behind.