Spotify For Indie Games… Subscription Model? (Part 3)

Earlier I looked Kongregate for new indie games. Also forums announcements. And nowadays occasionally check out Steam’s “indie games” list. There are some places where to get indie games – like indie xmas calendar that got tens of games right away.

I’ve now heard these both things about subscription: “subscription model won’t work” and “it would work”. I have bit mixed feelings about this, but whenever in doubt I start thinking of World of Warcraft. That game is running on subscription model (sure, it’s old as hell) and there’s other providers (like tv channels) that uses the same model pretty successfully.

So, why it wouldn’t work for indie games?

I can spot a few reasons.

Indie games are small fish
Big fishes are all about casual gaming, or facebook gaming. Saying “indie game” brings me the image of zombie shooter.


Well, you get the point. Casual games are different beast and indie games are often some sort of shooters (zombies, aliens…) or something bit different. And this means there’s less players.

I’m wondering that does it make sense to have this “indie portal” or indie games service?

Last Christmas, there sure was tons of developers (as those 70+ comments prove) who wanted to promote their stuff. So my gut feeling is that there would be developers interested in this.

But would there be gamers interested too?

Would I pay $10 per mo to get play any indie game I’d want? That’s a bit biased question since I don’t play much games… but I would guess that even for research purposes that could be useful. It might be fun to check new games, play them a bit and then switch to new indie games.


This is the third and last post about this spotify indie games portal thing for at least a few days. Tomorrow and next week will feature something else.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Ronin: What you’re basically describing is OnLive or Gaikei (I think that’s how you spell it), but I don’t think it will work for indie devs. Most indie games are either focused on single-player or offer a multi-player experience that is lackluster compared to some AAA games, mostly because there won’t be enough people playing them at the same time, unlike Halo 3 and Gears of War 2 who are still very active in XBOX Live, a year and 2 years, after their release.

    The subscription model you’re suggesting will work for games that manage to keep a lot of players playing for a long period of time, meaning mostly multi-player games or games with a lot of content and a lot of updates. But I don’t think the model will work for indie games since most of them are single player, and once a player completes the game, most will stop playing it, meaning no more revenue from that game.

    Also, the devs literally have to fight for the player’s time. Lets assume that everyone that is going to use the service is a paying subscriber. They all pay the same amount of money to access all the games on the service and the money is divided between the service (since it’s for indies, lets say between 10%-30%) and the rest is divided between the devs according to the time their games were played. The devs will fight for the player’s time and attention in order to increase their revenue and recoup the development costs and hopefully make enough money to continue making games.

    do you see my problem with this kind of service for indie games (I don’t think I was clear enough)?

  2. Desura and Steam are both download-based solutions.
    What I am thinking of when I think spotify-for-games is that you will have an application (like spotify/steam) that streams the games without the need for download.
    So you install the app, pay a subscription, and play away!

    A free version could stream demos or even full games with the possibility to buy DLC for the games(if the devs provide it ofc) for a set fee.

    Monthly subscribers would get access to all games, DLC would still cost extra, but all subscribers get an accumulative allowance each month to use for such things.
    Kinda like Turbine’s credits system for their free MMOs.

    As for paying the devs, each month the revenue gained is divided by how long all games have been played and distributed to the devs by how many minutes each game is played. Size/length of game matters not.

    Just some thoughts ;)

  3. Juuso: how will you decide how to share the revenue from the subscription between the devs? I assume that spotify has some formula based on the amount of subscribers and the amount a certain song was listened to, but most songs are similar in file size (2-7mb) and length (2-6min). How will you split the revenue between devs when games can vastly vary in size (~50mb to over 8 gigs) and in length (a couple of minutes to days)?

  4. Saul: sort of like Desura… but probably not like Desura :) I was thinking subscription based portal (for $10 per mo you get to play all games during that month)

    lumooja: nice comment :)

  5. If I understand you correctly, what your basically looking for is “Steam Gone Indie”. I think Desura, from the creators of ModDB and now IndieDB, maybe be similar to that. Although still in closed bets, I believe it can have a serious impact, especially if it will be released on all 3 major OSs: Win, Mac OS and Linux.

    Official site (requires to be part of the beta): http://www.desura.com/

    A little more about it:

  6. Indie games are small fishes, but by growing many small fishes in your pool with healthy nutrition, you get the best tasting big fishes. And they are guaranteed all yours, and you don’t have to travel and spend a lot of time to catch some good big fishes by luck, and who knows what they have eaten.

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