Fuck steam.Posted: September 5, 2012
The people at steam who decide policy and how to present it are clearly great geniuses. They have figured out how to totally shaft the indie market and most indie developers are happy about it and will defend them to death.
Now I know from experience that I need to justify this view to most people, because most people are living in a fantasy world when it comes to thinking about steam so let’s get clear about some stuff;
Steam are a BUSINESS, they only care about your game if it is likely to MAKE THEM MONEY. And I think our general desperation to get games on the service is damaging the market as a whole.
Greenlight is steam’s new way of finding indie games to put on their service. You can submit your game and the steam community votes on it and the stuff that filters to the very top gets the privilege of being on steam. It’s a brilliant idea, from steam’s perspective; they don’t have to do any work, and the community rejects the 99.9% of indie games they wouldn’t pay for leaving only profitable games left.
But it’s more brilliant (from steam’s perspective) than just that; greenlight has no content filtering AT ALL. If people find a game’s greenlight page it’s because the *developer* pointed them there. It’s impossible for people to just *browse* greenlight and find something they are interested in. This way only games that have a committed and large fan-base already will make it to the top. The games that would be guaranteed hits without steam, will be on steam!
The vast majority of developers will never see that ‘green light’ and get the chance to see how their games would sell on steam. The system is only good to the lucky 0.1% of indie developers who actually make it onto the service. Everyone else who tried just wasted their time .
All of this so far is totally fine, it’s a business after all! Steam aren’t there to do anyone anyone any favours but themselves, and that’s just super-cool, I applaud you for finding how to do less work and make more money steam. You guys are super smart!
… Well, it *would* be totally fine, if it wasn’t the case that steam has a massive fucking monopoly on PC gamers. “I won’t get it if it’s not on steam” is such a common attitude I could spit and it’d hit someone who thinks that. It’s not a mystery why either, steam offer an EXCELLENT service to their customers for sure. But their customers make up the majority of paying gamers and it leaves little room for the rest of us to make a living.
I would argue then, that steam *should* be as good to indies as people *think* that they are. If steam are the only way *most* people get their games, then it’s nothing less than steam’s RESPONSIBILITY to give all indie developers a decent chance.
But they won’t. It’s a business, a very successful one at that and we aren’t going to change their mind. They will give a handful of indies a decent break, and the rest of us will hear about that and be hopeful that sometime we’ll get our break and be on steam. And that is bullshit thinking right there.
So steam are only interested in a handful of indie games and are a detriment to everyone else? well I say FUCK STEAM.
There are a bunch of other decent ways to get games and we need to do more to convince gamers that they are cool. Crawling before steam and begging for permission on greenlight does nothing but show how desperate we are for steam’s audience. Let’s not get their audience like that, for one thing it’s not very indie, for another it won’t work for most of us, and finally it’s simply disgraceful.
Sure the IndieVanias, Desuras and IndieCitys of the world don’t offer quite as good a service as steam does. And direct sales can be tricky for gamers to keep track of but fuck it! we make awesome games and gamers are missing out because of their steam-goggles. There is a whole world of games outside of steam and gamers need to know about them, and be OK with buying them.
Steam aren’t going to do us ANY favours that don’t benefit themselves first. So let’s maybe stop depending on them so much, collect our dignity and work on how we can make an environment where anyone can sell their work on PC and have a chance at success.
Certainly not an easy task, people are loyal to steam and convincing them to get games elsewhere won’t be easy. But the difficulty in doing so isn’t an argument in favour of steam, if anything it’s an argument that we should have started sooner.