Indie developer David Szymanski, best known for his work on games like DUSK and Gloomwood, has shared some thoughts on Game Pass. He believes that the dominance of one subscription service could hurt the indie games market.
Earlier this week, Szymanski commented on the news that Sergiy Galyonkin, director of publishing strategy and one of the key people behind EGS, was leaving Epic Games amid recent layoffs at the company.
The developer mentioned one specific phrase in Galyonkin’s statement: “Epic games is on its way to transforming from a game developer, engine creator, and publisher into a platform — Epic 5.0.” He advised fellow developers to “runnnnnnnnnnn,” implying that this transformation from a developer/creator into a platform is not a good sign.
Some people, however, noted that Szymanski loves Valve for doing the same, to which he replied, “I don’t love Valve, I tolerate them.” Another user wrote in the comments that Epic Games is the only company that isn’t Microsoft that is trying to compete with Steam, adding that “it’s pretty insane to paint Epic as the villain in the market.”
Szymanski replied to this take in a recent post on X (former Twitter), saying he is terrified of Game Pass: “If it or any similar subscription service overtook the current store model, I’m pretty sure that would be the end of the indie market as we know it.”
No no, don’t mistake me here, I am terrified of Gamepass.
If it or any similar subscription service overtook the current store model, I’m pretty sure that would be the end of the indie market as we know it. pic.twitter.com/1rgtsOk6DT
— David Szymanski (@DUSKdev) October 2, 2023
The developer elaborated on this in the comments. He believes that if the video game subscription model worked like it does in the film and music industries, “devs would be paid almost nothing for each person who plays their game (like, cents or half of cents) and it’s unlikely licensing payouts would make up for that in the long run.”
Right now, Microsoft is offering developers contracts that could cover their development costs, but Szymanski thinks the situation could change for the worse in the future. In this case, the Game Pass-like model could become similar to film and music streaming services, “both of which are hellscapes for indies.”
Now, sure. This isn’t about now though, it’s about it that model took over like it has for film and music, both of which are hellscapes for indies.
— David Szymanski (@DUSKdev) October 3, 2023
David Szymanski is an experienced developer, whose portfolio includes retro-style FPS (or “boomer shooter”) DUSK, horror game Iron Lung, and immersive sim Gloomwood (made in collaboration with Dillon Rogers). He recently launched horror hunting title Squirrel Stapler, while also preparing to release the free HD version of DUSK.