I'm not a developer, or even in a tech field. I'm someone with a master's degree, who watched friends in my field with no degree, or just a bachelor's degree, as we progressed through our careers. I also screened resumes, and hired people for the organizations I worked for. Here's what I learned:
While people may have natural skills and abilities in their field, getting a college degree, or multiple degrees, can often help them bypass things that those without them can't. For example, I never did an unpaid internship. My first job out of my master's program was at a world-renowned company, which I landed because the person doing the hiring knew one of the teachers.
I went straight from grad school to supervising people with bachelor's degrees. Those with no degrees? They did unpaid internships for at least a year, and if they did manage to secure a paid position after that, it wasn't one with any possibility of advancement.
In terms of hiring, when I had 200 or more resumes for the five or six jobs we had open, the easiest way to sort and prioritize them was by education level. Master's degree plus experience? Top of the pile. No college, and no experience? Bottom of the pile, and generally never even considered.
And if you ever want to launch your own business, things like college degrees make banks take you more seriously.
One thing I will say about tech fields: they do offer someone with skills and ambition to bypass all the education and job market BS, and just develop a product, or an app, or whatever, that makes them someone people want to hire, or back financially, or work with.