Finji, publishers of Chicory: A Colorful Tale and Tunic, has expressed concerns over the rise in popularity of gaming subscription services like PlayStation Plus and Game Pass. The publisher is concerned about what it could mean for the future of the gaming industry as the “libraries are so big and the companies are so prolific with huge user bases” that they may not need independent developers in the future.

Bekah Saltsman, CEO of Finji, is worried about independent developers being left out of subscription services in the future. Whilst she believes that Finji will be fine due to its reputation and library of games she also believes that the ever-increasing cost of developing games could prevent indie devs from “making cool stuff” as they would be dependent on subscription fees and buyouts. Saltsman also warns that the “huge companies run by lots of people looking at spreadsheets” and that nobody can predict what they will do.

Whilst this may sound crazy at the moment it begins to make some sense when you consider the track the industry seems to be moving on. Microsoft has been on an acquisition spree for years and the likes of Tencent, NetEase and The Embracer Group have been snapping up independent developers almost every month. Sony Interactive Entertainment has also increased investment significantly over recent years with the acquisition of Bungie, Insomniac and more.

Finji currently has a game in each of the major subscription services; Chicory: A Colorful Tale is on PlayStation Plus, Tunic is on Game Pass and Overland on Apple Arcade.

Here’s what Saltsman had to say:

There are boom cycles where there’s lots of money out and about, then it contracts again, and then it’s going to boom out again. And it’s been doing this forever, because it goes on hardware cycles and everything else.

Because of the constriction and consolidation of the industry over the past two years and how a lot of companies are just owned by the subscription services, my concern is that because the libraries are so big and the companies are so prolific with huge user bases, that they won’t need us.

Will the budgets be enough with the higher cost of making games to be able to allow indies to keep making cool stuff? Because if we turn a buying population into a subscription population, that means we have to rely on subscription fees and buyouts. And in general, subscription buyouts don’t pay for that many years of a team’s development, unless your team is very small.

Subscriptions are both awesome and terrifying at the same time, and it could go either way. And I worry most for the smaller indie teams who maybe don’t have an early foothold as creators, that they may not have the space and the money to make more than one game.

If your service has the majority of people just play one game on it and subscriptions do better with live services, would they be able to justify a reasonable budget for this other project that would have a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of players compared to something doing a huge portion of numbers on the service?

That’s a legit math question because you don’t know how it’s going to fall. At that point, you’re almost deciding who’s going to be on the service and who’s going to be allowed to keep making games based on value or artistic creative direction or something, rather than the monetary value of that project.

We can’t ignore the fact that these are huge companies run by lots of people looking at spreadsheets. And I’m always concerned about what people do many levels up staring at spreadsheets, and what it means for teams my size or even smaller than me, because we don’t do the numbers that the big teams do. We just don’t. Even Tunic, which has done crazy numbers worldwide. We don’t do numbers that compete.

All I want is a way for people to play more weird, cool games, because if game designs constrict too much and you only appeal to the majority, you’re missing out on so much in our art form. My only wish is please just keep paying for the work that the teams do in a way that doesn’t hurt them. Pay them a decent salary built into these buyouts.

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