Indie gaming has become more viable recently with lower development and distribution costs available. Promotion through Steam and the use of game engines like Unreal, Unity and CryEngine have helped make this possible.
That’s the rosy view. However, game engine developers have been looking at their users and figured out that while some go on to create a viable product that they can take royalties from, most of them never do. How can revenue be made from this majority? Answer: Set a subscription only model. Now this means revenue is still gained from the few viable ones but also from everyone else, regardless of an end product or not.
While the relative low cost of this subscription shouldn’t stop indie game developers, it does take away from the single or small group users who may be put off by a year or two of subscription who don’t have any real commercial outlook for their end product.
In the early 80s/8-bit days anyone could build a game who had the know-how and time but not necessarily the money. Yet now people with no financial backing but who are talented enough to try game development are at a disadvantage.
I was hoping to see a comeback of this “anyone can make a game” days, and it did seem to be going in that direction. But with game engines looking like they’re becoming averse to the “free to use model” it may be a creeping back to just companies, small and large, left to creating these. Also the subscription model builds in a time imperative variable, as you still pay if using or not.
There are still free options out there, of course, but we could start to see those options dwindle if the subscription model becomes a better money spinner.
It sort of reminds me of TV subscription parallels, if a show gets popular it now tends to be bought up and scooped off to subscription channels which then means paying more for the same thing and most likely gets beaten to death with ads till it’s killed off. For example: Formula 1 coverage from BBC to Sky tv and going from a no-ads free show, to a subscription with ads. Not a direct comparison but has parallels of taking a good idea and trying to milk it till it becomes less than it was.
Anyway, let’s hope that there will always be a viable free option for the future so the next ‘Tetris’ creator is still out there with originality, rather than a ‘Candy Crush’ variation of an original concept.