What impact will game streaming have on indie developers and publishers?

I wrote an article for GamesRadar+ on how streaming is going to affect developers and publishers, check it out:

“The next few years are going to be tricky” – Streaming services like Google Stadia could change the way games are played and made forever

I was a bit disappointed with the title they chose in the end – the original was ‘What impact will game streaming have on indie developers and publishers?’, as the article exclusively focuses on indies and how they will compete with AAA games, and the altered title doesn’t mention indies at all. Still, I think the article turned out well otherwise, and it was interesting to hear the range of reactions from the people I contacted. Probably the most insightful takeaway is that if a subscription-type model takes off, we’ll probably see many more sandbox-type and RTS games rather than short narrative adventures, as devs will want to maximise the time that people play their games if they’re being paid per minute played.

I actually submitted this article a couple of months ago, but GamesRadar+ decided to hold it back until streaming became a hot topic again with Google’s announcement of Stadia’s pricing and games this week. But that kind of backfired in the end – the article is mostly focused on how a subscription model would affect indies, but Google surprised everyone by saying that users would buy games individually on Stadia. Oh, and they’d ALSO have to pay a subscription for the ‘Pro’ service with access to 4K gaming.

To be honest, that pricing sounds like commercial suicide. I can see the appeal of a subscription streaming service that lets you dive into any game you like for a set fee. But why would you want to pay to ‘own’ a game on a streaming service? Surely that’s just a worse proposition than what’s currently available – at least if you buy physical or download a game, you know you’ll be able to play it whenever, and it won’t be subject to the vagaries of your internet connection. And of course, you don’t have to worry that at some point Google will shut the Stadia servers down and cut off access to ‘your’ game completely.


Anyway, the news will no doubt reassure some of the indie devs who worry about the streaming future in the article. Sounds like the much vaunted ‘Netflix for games’ is still some way off.