IndieBox gambles on a resurgence of interest in boxed videogames

Andy Chalk

I like videogames that come in boxes. I liked shopping for them, too, running to the nearest EB Games store and riffling through the preowned section (when it had a preowned section for PC) to see what bits of overlooked gaming goodness I could dig up. The thrill of the hunt more than made up for the relative lack of convenience, and that's a feeling the IndieBox team is hoping to take advantage of with its new and very unusual boxed-game subscription service.

The basic concept is simple: IndieBox licenses indie games, builds well-loaded physical editions around them and sells them online. The service actually launched last month with Teslagrad , which included a poster, a soundtrack CD, a Teslamancer papercraft, 24-page manual and a "game cartridge" that's actually a USB stick with a protective case. The twist is that it's a monthly subscription service, and you have no idea what each month's game is going to be until you get it.

It's a strange way of doing things, but the idea is to duplicate, as much as possible, the excitement of discovering something cool that you weren't previously aware of. To offset the unavoidable fact that not everyone is going to care for every game, they're not very expensive: Subscriptions run from $15 to $17 per month plus shipping, depending on the length of the signup, while leftover copies will sell for $20 each, although it'll be awhile before surplus stock is actually available. And the games are entirely DRM-free, so there's no need to maintain the subscription to keep them working.

That, as they say, was the straw that broke the camel's back, so after an appropriate bit of waffling, I signed up for a month. What am I getting? I have no idea, and that's what makes it so great, although I hope the game will be cool, too. But the real question is whether there's enough interest in physical copies of PC games, and enough willingness to gamble on getting a winner every month, to maintain and grow the business. The Teslagrad sellout is a good sign, but can it last? I think the IndieBox is a fantastic idea, but I'm also, as noted earlier, kind of a weirdo about these things, too.

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