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Opinion: On Gabe Newell’s Hypocrisy Re: 'Closed Platforms'
by Richard Hill-Whittall on 10/13/11 09:52:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

I was more than a little bemused to read about Gabe Newell’s recent attack on ‘closed platforms’ from Apple, Sony, etc.

Speaking as a developer who also self-publishes, I have yet to experience a more ‘closed’ marketplace than Steam (except perhaps XBLA).

Steam is operated slightly like a strange mystical organisation – I have spoken to lots of developers many of whom have the similar stories to tell; Steam never responds to them, they don’t open discussions with developers, Steam will find you if they want your product, and so on.

Incredibly I’ve even heard comments from developers that they try to enter the IGF with the main aim to try and help their chances of getting onto Steam!

If you are lucky enough to get a response (many don’t) the evaluation process is completely closed, and if they reject your title you get an email which basically states “Unfortunately, we don't comment on our decision making process”. No further clarification of any sort will be given, and even if you ask if you could make changes or add additional features you will still get no useful response. This is the ultimate example of a closed distribution platform; we don’t want your game on Steam and no, we won’t tell you why or discuss future developments.

Some of Gabe’s choice quotes include:

"On the platform side, it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms... They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things."

Well Gabe – Steam is a really nice shiny PC distribution channel; and you control the access far more than platform holders control their platforms.

Every PC developer I have spoken to about Steam says the same thing – Steam sales are many times more than those of even the next biggest portal. If you don’t get onto Steam your PC sales potential will be significantly reduced.

"I consider Apple to be very closed. Let's say you have a book business and you are charging 5 to 7 per cent gross margins. You can't exist in an Apple world because they want 30 per cent and they don't care that you only have 7 per cent to play with."

But Gabe – if I am lucky enough to get onto Steam then you want 30-40% of all my revenue!

He then went on to say that if Valve were to build a hardware platform it would be open to other distributors, in the interests of healthy competition.

Are you sure Gabe? Really? I’m sorry to say but I don’t really believe that based on how you run Steam!

Apparently Gabe is calling on the industry to open its closed games platforms, adding that the current insular approach is hurting business and stifling creativity.

Well that is exactly what Steam is doing – its doors are closed to many PC developers, and it hurts those developer’s businesses and absolutely stifles creativity by restricting access to a huge section of PC games buyers.

So I would respectfully like to ask Gabe to look at getting his own house in order before weighing in and trying to tackle other inequalities in the industry. Lead by example!


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Comments


Eric Schwarz
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I've heard stories about Steam's "mysterious" nature, but more than anything, what seems most important in getting your game on it is if Valve thinks a) your game is worth playing and b) your game will sell at its proposed price point. My guess is that Valve operate in this way either because they simply don't have the resources to respond personally to every developer out there (not sure how many work on it these days, but a year or so ago it was less than 30 if I recall correctly), and furthermore, they likely want to keep that air of mystique, and perpetuate the idea that Steam is an exclusive and "special" platform.



Unfortunately, for indie developers, this means that you might have a hell of a time getting your games on Steam. It's quite a shame too, because there are plenty of great indie games not on Steam, and plenty more which are either, shall we say, not very good, and some which actually don't even work properly on modern systems, but are still on sale regardless. Meanwhile, on the mainstream side, even the worst-reviewed titles get front page spreads on Steam so long as the publisher can pay the bill. While I certainly don't dislike Valve, that idea that they're always out for the gamer, that they can do no wrong, etc. is a pretty flawed one and I've always encouraged people to seek out competition and alternative swhere they can.

Rey Samonte
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I don't have much experience with Steam...but it is very surprising to read about these types of experiences when about a week ago, I believe I read an article here, that states how good Steam is to indie developers.



Some people have tried to encourage me to develop for Steam, but as a small indie with very limited resources, I highly doubt my chances of getting into Steam if these are the kind of things that's going on with developer relations.



But I agree, seeking out competing platforms is always a good idea.

Lars Doucet
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First, I agree that Gabe might want to inspect the plank in his own eye before offering to help the house that Jobs built extract their splinters.



That being said, some other interesting issues as I see it here play off of these properties:

1) Control-freakness

2) Curated-ness vs. Open-ness



Most developers I've talked to who have gotten onto Steam have nothing but kind words for the platform, as the Steam team is very honest with them, forthright, and seems to have their best interests at heart (or at least, understands that their own interests align with the developers). Unlike XBLA and Apple, they've also demonstrated a strong willingness to provide marketing support and not screw over devs who they let into the system - this of course, drives up the demand to get onto Steam. And of course, you can't just submit something to Steam and get it on there - they have to approve it, making it a heavily curated system.



The Apple store will let anybody on, more or less, but they love to enforce arbitrary rules, randomly censor things, and are constantly exploiting developers through manufactured "Cinderalla Stories" where they hand-pick winners and losers for their platforms, and repeatedly refuse to fix the game discovery process.



The main reason I like Steam more than Apple is that Steam seems honest and fair in their dealings, whereas Apple wields their control like a weapon. People often say "they make the park, if you don't like the rules, go play somewhere else." In some cases this is valid - I would say it is a valid defense of Steam but not Apple. Steam's rules are clear and consistently enforced. Apple's on the other hand are vague and designed so that there's almost no way not to break them, just so they can have a "valid" reason to yank anyone they don't like at any time.



So, one of them treats you right, but only if you're part of the in club, whereas the other one lets everyone in the tent, and then lavishes indifference and disrespect equally :)



I love open platforms, but it's probably going to be a while before any company produces the sort of thing you're looking for, because most "We will let anybody in!" platforms, like Greg Costikyan's well-intentioned Manifesto Games, ultimately start to look like "Self Publishing" vanity press author mills for indie game developers, and the whole thing just sinks. No disrespect to Greg there - I'm sure that wasn't his intention at all, but that's what it ultimately became in the end. A worthy experiment all the same.



So - the closest thing you'll probably get to an open platform that treats everyone fairly and lets anybody in without any gate-keeping is the Internet! Put your game up for sale on your own storefront page and start workin' that blogosphere.



Bottom line: leverage every opportunity available, and never expect a company to look out for your best interests.



And just so I'm clear, I agree with your fundamental critique of Gabe here. I really like Steam, but it's not without fault and deserves to be held accountable.

Maurício Gomes
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"Steam's rules are clear and consistently enforced."



Point them to me, please?

Luke Mildenhall-Ward
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I'm with Maurício — point us to Steam's approval rules? Unlike Apple's I'm pretty sure they're not publicly available — even to devs — no?



On the other hand, you've made a few comments on Apple's App Store that are either exaggerated or you don't understand Apple's approval process. Apple give reasons for any and every rejection, and they also point to exactly what needs to be changed to make it into the store. Reasons Apple give for rejections are very reasonable almost all of the time (occasionally they make mistakes, and historically they've been swift to amend them.) And this is considering that 1% of apps are rejected, and most of those are simply amended and re-submitted to the store. And of those that are rejected, it's *never* games unless you've done something unusually inappropriate.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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If you think that's bad, try being a Source modder!

Florian Garcia
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At the same time, modders complain if Valve doesn't produce modding tools. And free of charge. I'd call it a fair deal.

(btw, I use to mod when I was a student back in the quake 2/halflife era).

Jesse Tucker
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If it wasn't for modding (UT2004 for me) I wouldn't be designing levels for a living today. If you decide to start modding, you understand full well that you won't be seeing a dime. Also, polishing in-house tools for public consumption is a non-trivial task.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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lol good for you. I'm going to continue to be a loser and not make money :D

Florian Garcia
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As we are in an opinion article, let me formulate my own.

I think there has been a lot of confusion made in the heads of developers since the iTunes app store opened its doors. It might have even started with the wii but anyways. Nowadays, we see a lot of very small application sold under the category "games" for mobile devices and it is assumed by the professionals of the mobile market that those ARE games.

Personally, I think most of those aren't really computer games as we traditionally considered them outside the mobile market. To me, they are bits of games, little interactive experiences, mini-games and so on. Careful there, I'm not saying that ALL of the mobile games are small tiny bits of games but a big chunk of it, yes.

I'm not saying that I know what Gabe or Valve thinks about it but I would argue that in their shoes, I wouldn't want to see a tsunami of thrown birdies, running animals, thousand pool variation, monkey king chess majong, solitaire and farms as we can see on the Apple platform.

No.

Seriously, I'm happy each time I open steam and look at the indie category. There, I can find fully accomplished games that won't just be one single half backed gameplay loop with cute animal faces that prompts me to purchase crap if I want to get a decent experience.

So yes, I understand the frustration when it gets blurry for a dev who truly believes he has a great product but can't get it published. That being said, take it as a challenge and improve your game until you make it. It will only make you game better and hopefully bring back revenues to your studio :-)

Lars Doucet
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That's a good point, Rog.



No PC developer, indie or pro, should count on Steam agreeing to publish their game. For pros, this makes just plain sense.



As for Indies though - there's no reason you NEED to get on Steam to be successful. Getting on Steam basically means your train has come to the station, and is about as big a coup as getting chosen for the next Humble Indie Bundle.



It's hard to be successful without making it big by getting noticed by players like these, but it is possible, and it can be done. It just means the onus is on you to make it work. That sucks, but that's the situation, and it is possible.

Richard Hill-Whittall
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Rog - exactly; the developer takes a huge risk. Steam is a backwards service still stuck in the old concept approval style models of old; they just dress it up differently. Well - worse really as there is no feedback given so you can't adapt.



We don't want the game, we won't tell you why or whether we would ever reconsider, and no - we won't discuss any future plans on what we may find a more acceptable title.

james sadler
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@Rog: Actually a lot of the film industry is like this to indie film makers. Its wrong to talk about indie game development and compare it to big budget films. I've worked on and known a lot of indie film makers who pour thousands into an indie film in the hopes of getting it picked up by a larger studio which will distribute it. They will generally have to complete a project before anyone will touch it. Once that film maker picks up some momentum and gathers a name about themselves channels open up a lot easier. I'm sure Square-Enix doesn't have to go through a submission process like we all do, just as I'm sure James Cameron doesn't have to make an entire movie before Fox or someone decides to pick it up.



The indie scene sucks and its scary to not have a certainty about one's hard work not getting out there for people to buy and recoup the costs of development, but that comes down to some personal assessments not being pissed at a distribution channel's submission process. Sure we'd all like to hear about why our games didn't make it on this platform or another, but we can't really expect them to respond to every single submission with full details of why things failed. I would imagine that games they thought were close to their standards get some better responses but unless someone tells us about them how would we know?

Rich Boss
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Marketplace = Steam, Origin, any online store, XBLM, PlayStation Store, Apple App Store

Platform = PC, PS3, XBOX360, IPhone



Some of these platforms are locked to their companies complementary marketplace. Some of these platforms can support multiple independent marketplaces. Gabe wants any marketplace to be able to work on any platform.



All of the marketplaces are curated to some degree. If Gabe is being hypocritical by curating his marketplace, all of the people running marketplaces are being hypocritical. Then what about the companies that are curating a marketplace and a platform?

Lars Doucet
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When I hear it put like that, I have to say I'm with Rich on this one. Apple is "locked" as in, they want to control the whole stack from the top to the bottom - hardware, software, tools, everything.



Steam doesn't let just anybody on to their system, but they DON'T:



1) Tell you what tools you have to use

2) Only let you sell games on their proprietary operating system

3) Only let you sell games on their proprietary hardware



They support Mac and Windows and I'm hearing rumors of them adding Linux support too. They let you use nearly any programming language.



So, that's a pretty big difference in my book.

Richard Hill-Whittall
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From a self-publishing developer perspective platform is largely irrelevant; it is all about the marketplace. Aside from the near impossible challenge of self-publishing on XBLA, Steam is the hardest marketplace to get onto, and the one that is perhaps the most frustrating to deal with given the complete lack of any meaningful dialogue when rejected. A developer can self-publish anything on Nintendo, Sony PSP Minis, Apple iOS - there are no content restrictions; they are far more open than Steam ever is.



Right now in many ways Steam IS PC; without a Steam release, PC sales can be far too low to cover costs.



I don't doubt that once you are on Steam the experiecne is very positive, but for Gabe to make comments like this IS hypoctritical, and yes - if for example Microsoft were saying similar things about Steam that would of course be incredibly hypocritical.

Lars Doucet
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I see what you're saying there, Rich H, and I still agree the comments aren't without hypocrisy.



That being said, though we can call Gabe out for being a hypocrite, aside from that I don't think Steam's doing anything wrong, and I vastly prefer them to Apple, both as a consumer and a developer.



And I'm still interested in what you think of Rich B's reply - I take it that you (Rich H) are taking the position that "closed" == curated?

Richard Hill-Whittall
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It is hard to balance openness with quality - but I think Steam's biggest offence is the dismissive way they deal with developers and product they don't want; I've chatted to good developers with good games that don't even get a reply.



And I don't think more marketplaces on a platform is a good thing at all; all it does it dilute sales potential for the developer and provide added complexities and can often lead to less favourable commercial terms.



So, for example - I have a PS3 download title to sell, and what if there is now Steam and Sony marketplaces on PS3? And my game isn't on Steam? I lose out sales.



Gabe wants Steam everywhere so in effect he can extend the reach of Steam, which will be at the expense of all non-Steam developers. He is trying to build a monopoly that transcends the usual platform boundaries. That is brilliant business for Valve, but bad for everyone else.

Lars Doucet
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I'm with you all the way up to this thought:



"And I don't think more marketplaces on a platform is a good thing at all;"



So - not trying to be snarky, just trying to understand - you're arguing that we should have more openness, but also LESS choice? How does that work?



I understand the argument about dilution - but in my reading of history, less choice usually leads to less openness.

Richard Hill-Whittall
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I would certainly rather have more openness and a better, fairer dialogue than more choice, yes.



Steam are like a brick wall to many, and if I had to rely on a platform where Steam is a major player, I'd be out of business. I can self-publish on PSP Minis, Wii, 3DS, DSi, iOS without any restrictions or requirement to pass some secretive approvals panel. That to me is open, and much fairer for developers.

Lars Doucet
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I get that, Rich H, but it's simply not realistic.



If someone else is going to gather all your customers in one place, then they've got all the power and that naturally results in the problems you cite with Steam. If you need Steam more than they need you, they aren't going to be as fair and open as you'd like.



If they need you more than you need them, they'll court you and fall all over themselves for your business. This seems like a fundamental trade-off to me.



A super-open, super-fair, one market-place-to-rule-them-all sounds great to me, and I don't blame you for demanding one, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting, either.



At any rate, thanks for the lively discussion!

Rich Boss
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@ Rich H



When considering the amount of material a company like Valve must sift through on a daily basis, is it really surprising that they don't provide constructive criticism on every game that doesn't fit the bill?



How could it possibly be their responsibility to fix every shitty game that floats their way?

Howard Tsao
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Definitely agree with your assessment. But just want to go off tangent a bit about the benefits of a curated process like Steam's. I think Lars is right in that Steam is more curated for sure, so the entry barrier into the platform is higher. It is not open to everyone, but there is also a perceived quality that is high in the minds of developers as well as players. But once a dev gets in, Steam does do a great job featuring the smaller or more unknown games, giving them fair and a lot of times equal opportunities to be featured against big titles. I think in some ways, Terraria is an example of this. I guess I do have a different experience with Steam (and I am by no means trying suggest that others' experiences are not valid or anything) in that we as a small team took a chance and emailed Steam cold, and they did get back to us, and they are actually really nice (being truthful here). Also, once we released the game on Steam, they did proactively recommend sales or indie pack events to us, and gave feedback on pricing and discount % etc. Potential to make money aside, I think the high demand to get on Steam from indie devs is also because Steam actually has a good reputation for treating the indie games and devs that it releases well, and there is more of a sense of relationship.

Michael Joseph
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agreed with Florian and Lars.



Gabe's being a bit of a hypocrite. But, Steam is like walking onto the used car lot of a respected Toyota dealership across town. Every trade in that comes along gets put through a 160 point inspection

http://www.toyotacertified.com/inspection.html

before they'll accept it for resale on their own used car lot. The ones that get rejected wind up on that shadey looking lot in the bad part of town with the poorly dressed sales people who smell of cigarettes and liquor.

james sadler
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Probably a better analogy is the music industry. A label looks at a band and says "can we actually sell their product? Will they be able to handle what we need from them? Does this fit our other products?" Yes the music industry does have some very negaitve aspects to it that aren't like the game industry but a lot of the same things apply. A developer goes to the distribution channel or publisher and says "Please release my game." The DC or publisher then looks to see if it can actually sell, what needs to be done in order to make it publishable, whether or not the developer can even handle those needs or changes, and if it fits into their company interests. If not, why would they trouble themselves or the developer. Its a no win situation for everyone.

james sadler
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I think a lot of people are misunderstanding what Gabe was saying. With iOS like platforms you have to go through the app store (unless you jailbreak the device) to get at content. With a PC, and Steam, developers and their audience have the choice of using Steam or some other avenue. To yell at him for being restrictive of the content on Steam is besides the point here.



I haven't had any experience with the Steam people yet other than as a buyer of games through them. But even so my team is developing a game that we're hoping to get on their service. I know the barrier is high and there is a likelihood that we wont be accepted, but that's part of the business. We'll still release our game through our website and maybe another distribution channel, but it will be out there for our audience and we'll continue to try and get into the Steam channel.



If Steam is such an evil channel then why are people breaking their necks trying to get onto the service? Its because it is a great distribution channel that uses its high entry barrier as a filter for those games that don't meet their desires, however vague they are. Just knowing one's game is accepted will mean a pretty large sales spike and respect compared to other channels. We don't see anything like that on a platform like iOS which has opened the floodgates so large that only a few games/apps are able to make any real money or get exposure.



I hate to be the one that advocates society needing filters, but when it comes to creative material like games, art, and music, those filters often do more good for the audience then bad.

Lars Doucet
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Who's Dave? Did you mean Gabe?

Lars Doucet
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(accidental double post deleted)

james sadler
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Yeah, been a long day, lol. I meant Gabe.

Bruno Patatas
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The entire subject it's much deeper than it may seem at first sight. It's about the core of business development in the games industry.

I love Steam (and GOG btw :)), but I fail to understand this "attack" from Gabe on Apple. Steam is a platform as closed the AppStore, and I agree with the question regarding the evaluation process. According to their website (http://steampowered.com/steamworks/FAQ.php), "...we look for unique and interesting gameplay and art". That by itself is very subjective, and for me, there is a lot of games on Steam that are not unique and/or interesting at all.



But for me the most worrying thing about Steam is:

"2. How far along should my game be before I send it to you for review?



Your game should be far enough along to show us what the final art and gameplay will feel like. We're happy to take a look at games once they reach the beta stage. Having a few bugs here and there won't impact our decision, but your game should be close to final."



This is KILLER! Let's face it, (almost) every indie developer wants to have their PC game available on Steam. It's the de facto digital distribution platform on PC. The fact that Steam requires the submission of a game to be in a complete or almost complete stage is extremely risky for a developer. I would very much prefer to take a bet on iOS devices than on Steam.



And this is the core of the problem! I have been at several Game Connections way back since 2006. For everyone that doesn't know, Game Connection is a sort of speed dating between developers and publishers, where a developer has 30 minutes to showcase their game to a publisher. During this years, the demanding from the publishers regarding what they expect to see and evaluate has escalated enormously. Long are the days where you could show your game in a prototype stage, even featuring programmers block art. Now they want to see a vertical slice. They want to see a piece of the final game. I don't agree with the vertical slice model (and i'm not the only one: http://grumpygamer.com/6843121). I agree with prototyping in pre-production to achieve the best core mechanics possible. At a Game Connection in 2010 I was invited to the booth of a company where they showed me a vertical slice of an RPG for Xbox360 they have developed. They spent 7 months and 700K USD (!!!) on that vertical slice. I played it and it was great. Great graphics, cool gameplay. But, they failed to secure a publishing deal (and that almost killed the company). When I asked them why they invested so much money on a vs, their answer was "that's what the publisher is expecting to see, that type of polish". And that's true.



If you worked on TV and you wanted to do a tv series, first they give you greenlight for the development of a pilot. They don't expect you to deliver a full series and then wait to see if it works or not. Same thing with movies. A concept is created and then it's greenlight, thereby allowing the project to move forward from the development phase to pre-production and principal photography. Why can't the same process be applied in the games industry?



I can totally understand why so many veterans of our industry are making the shift to mobile and social platforms like Facebook...

Bruno Patatas
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@Johnny Exactly! The cost factor together with the high stress of creating a product that will generate the million sales needed to breakeven, makes the mobile and facebook platforms very attractive. As I read somewhere, iPhone is the Spectrum of this generation. And I have to agree. You have a lot of shovelware (just like on Spectrum), but at the same time you have games delivering innovative gameplay mechanics that put to shame a lot of the AAA games in the market.

Adam Bishop
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I find it interesting that so many people seem to describe themselves or people they know as "developing for Steam" rather than "developing for PC" or "developing for Windows", which is what you're really doing. Yes, getting on Steam has tremendous benefits, and they're probably the largest retailer of PC games, but if your entire business model amounts to "get on Steam", I'm sorry, but your business model kind of sucks. It's not Valve's job to sell your game for you.



Not only is it a good idea to have a strong business model that doesn't rely on Valve so that you have a better chance of making your money back, but it's also a good idea because showing Valve that your product is able to make money without them getting involved is going to make them much more likely to want to have your game in their store.



As for complaints that Steam doesn't give much feedback, I don't really see how they even could, even if they theoretically "should". How many submissions do you think they get from people who want to be on the channel? It's already, I would imagine, incredibly time consuming just to go through all of the submissions and see what's worthwhile. That has a large cost associated with it, but in the end it's likely worth it for them because they get great products out of it. So now, in addition to that expense, people expect them to go through their game and give specific feedback on what they didn't like about it? Firstly, Valve would have significant labour costs associated with that, and secondly, what good does it do anyone when an awful lot of their feedback for many games would probably amount to some variation on "Your game is boring and your production values aren't any good"?

Lars Doucet
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I'm with you, Adam. Yeah, there's lots of reasons to develop for Steam (some of which Johnny points out), but any developer who bets everything on one distribution partner is really asking for trouble.

Robert Boyd
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I agree that it seems a little odd to hear the person in charge of Steam complaining about closed platforms, however, of all the closed platforms, Steam is the best as far as I'm concerned. They're very supportive of developers they work with and have just the right balance between quantity & quality in their library.



As for people complaining about having to have a finished or near-finished game to submit to Steam, how else do you propose they do things? There are so many people making indie games and most never finish anything. Of the ones who do finish something, there's no guarantee that the finished product will be any good. I'm sure if you're an established studio with a history of releasing hit games, Steam has no problems with accepting your future games on faith, but for everyone else, it makes sense to wait until you have something impressive and tangible to evaluate.

Bart Stewart
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On the question of not providing feedback for rejected submissions, I wonder whether Valve does this to avoid interfering with the creative process.



If Valve told a submitter, "We wanted more RPG elements," some people would certainly publish that information to the Web. The next thing you know, people would be adding RPG elements to their games whether the games benefited from that content or not, just to improve their chances of being accepted onto Steam.



Does anyone think it would be good for the industry for Valve or any other distributor to wield that kind of distorting power over the design of games?



That's not to minimize the frustration of not being able to find out why a game you think is good gets rejected. But I wonder if it's at least possible that Valve is doing the industry (and, since Valve prospers if the industry prospers, itself) a real favor by steadfastly refusing to pick winners and losers among forms of content.

Jane Castle
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A significant portion of the indie games Steam accepts are of dubious quality. Valve hasn't raised the quality bar high enough on Steam for the submission of indie games.



As for those indies that complain; well get on another platform or service. If your business model is Steam or bust then that is YOUR problem NOT Steam's. Steam also doesn't owe you an explanation on why they rejected your game and neither does a publisher. I find this sense of self entitlement particularly offensive. It's as if some indies think: "Look at me I made a game, now Steam HAS to accept it....."



If you can't get your game on the consoles or other service then your game probably wasn't good enough to begin with. I see indies complaining about Steam's policies and why their "great masterpiece" game was rejected with no explanation. Instead you should be looking at yourselves objectively and realizing your game isn't all that and perhaps taking steps to improve the quality.

james sadler
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Yes, all the risk IS shouldered by the developer. If a developer doesn't have the experience or game line-up to prove that they can finish a game why should anyone offer to distribute it? Its like trying to get a job with your programming degree when you're still in high school with nothing to prove you can do the work. Prove that you can make a stellar game and people will flock to you.



I completely agree with Jane here. If someone's game is rejected, even without any reason given, its time to look at the game they created. Is the game really up to par with what that publisher is releasing? how enjoyable is the game to others outside of the developers community?



Even winning a competition isn't grounds for publishing. Yes some people that win IGF make great games, but that doesn't automatically make them commercially viable. If this is really a problem then the developer should be looking more for channels that support their games style. Why should a publishing channel have to alter its standards, however vague, to fit something they don't like.



Stagnation comes when people continue to release duplicates of the same game (how many angry birds clones are out there now?) not by a publisher's standards. People are taking those risks, but there still has to be some viable income expectation for someone else to release it. Otherwise what point is there? The publisher has to front all the costs of distribution (advertising on their spce, storage, bandwidth, etc.). If that doesn't fit a developers desires they have other options, not just Steam, and THAT is what Gabe was talking about; options.



And again with the film reference. This is without base. Producers and distributors only invest in projects that they believe will bring back money, and even then they only invest in unknown people's projects that are complete or from people who have shown something they like. How many film grads get out of college with no finished work and go right into making blockbuster movies? There are times when a studio might invest in an artsy project, but those are very few and far between those bigger projects, and we see the same in gaming.

J Spartan
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GOG.com should do Indies, they have a much better business match than Steam for Inides.



GIG.com(Good Indie Games) as a linked sister site on their main page? Have that for free GOG :)

Jakub Janovsky
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I played quite a few games that were refused from Steam. My opinion is that 80+% of them were crap, 15% was at least good for killing some time and less than 5% were good.



IMO many games (both indie and AAA) arent even close to being as good as their creators think they are.

Charles Rawlinson
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Steam was the first distributor we contacted over 3 months ago. Our game was days away from release on Desura and had already had some great reviews. Since initial release we have been published by 3 other vendors and even had our game translated into Japanese for us. No vendor has ever made us wait beyond 48 hours for a response.



Since our first attempt we have tried to get in contact with Steam 4 more times. Still to this day we have not received even a curious template reply to say no. In my opinion, this "mysterious" nature is unprofessional and rather rude. It takes time to fill out their submission template, the least they could do is reply.


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