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Developer claims it was rejected from Steam - for having a Greenlight page
May 31, 2013 | By Mike Rose

May 31, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing, Video

An indie studio has claimed that its game was rejected from Steam because it had an old Greenlight page for the title, and Valve "didn't want to send the message that indies can seek out publishers to bypass Steam Greenlight."

Mike Maulbeck at Code Avarice says that his team attempted to get its game Paranautical Activity published on Steam through a deal with Adult Swim.

However, when it came time to contact Valve about putting the game on Steam, Maulbeck was told that Paranautical Activity could not be directly published through Adult Swim, and that the team would have to go through Steam Greenlight first.

That's because Maulbeck had built a Greenlight page for the game many months before, but had then abandoned it once Adult Swim expressed their interest in publishing the game.

Normally, a developer would be able to bypass the Greenlight process if they have a publisher, such as Adult Swim, to bring their game directly to Steam.

Yet Valve apparently told Maulbeck that because his game already had a Greenlight page, it would send the message to other indie developers that they simply need to find a publisher to bypass the Greenlight process. For this reason, Maulbeck was told his team must go through the Greenlight process.

You can hear more in the video above. This story is developing, and Gamasutra has contacted Valve regarding these claims.

Update: Valve's Doug Lombardi has told Gamasutra, "We review Greenlight votes, reviews, and a variety of factors in the Greenlight process. However our message to indies regarding publishers is do it for your own reasons, but do not split your royalties with a publisher expecting an automatic 'Yes' on Greenlight."

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Mike Murray
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Very disappointing move from Valve. The game looks really good too.

Joe E
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Pretty bizarre. Just a misunderstanding maybe?

"it would send the message to other indie developers that they simply need to find a publisher to bypass the Greenlight process."

Yeah were would they get *that* idea :/

Duong Nguyen
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Wow horrible, one of the worse 3rd party terms i've ever seen. Heck whose business is it Steam to force a developer to use an abandoned GreenLight project ( lol so they have to go through the "Greenlight process" haha like it magically makes a would be publish game better? ) This needs to be made more public so other indes don't fall into the Steam Trap.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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"[....]it would send the message to other indie developers that they simply need to find a publisher to bypass the Greenlight process."

If you do not have a publisher, you are an Indie.
If you do have a publisher, you are not an Indie.

If you have no publisher, you go to Greenlight.
If you have a publisher, you publish directly to Steam.

What is hard about this?

Morgan Ramsay
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Yeah, what is so hard about this!?

• Machinarium. Published by Daedalic Entertainment in Europe.

• Braid. Published by Microsoft (XBLA).

• Limbo. Published by Microsoft (XBLA)

• Minecraft. Published by Microsoft (XBLA, 360).

• Castle Crashers. Published by Microsoft (XBLA) and SCE (PSN).

• Fez. Published by Microsoft (XBLA).

• Magicka. Published by Paradox Interactive.

• Terraria. Published by 505 Games (XBLA, PSN).

• Monaco. Published by Majesco Entertainment (XBLA).

• World of Goo. Published by Nintendo (WiiWare).


John Common
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This reminds me of the Talisman game that was on Greenlight and had valve reject the game when they went through a publisher. I'm guessing this was the reason. Also if Primordia had a greenlight page it would explain it getting rejected when it was submitted through Wadjet Eye Games.

Kenneth Blaney
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Primordia was rejected through regular submission and then they were told to go through Greenlight. I think all of this is an attempt to drive traffic and thus legitimacy to a fundamentally flawed Greenlight process.

Sergio Rosa
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Yet again Valve sets a system and decide to bend the rules at will, so what's the point of that system to begin with? The more Greenlight evolves the more it looks like a lottery blackbox, you never actually know how it is supposed to work.
And all those players saying "this game looks so cool, I would totally buy it if it was on Steam" doesn't really help at all.

Justin Keverne
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At least one game, Expeditions: Conquistador by Logic Artists has gone through this exact process. It originally had a Greenlight page, since removed, and is now available on Steam, published by bitComposer Entertainment.

Jane Castle
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I also notice that certain indies don't EVER go through the GreenLight process and their games wind up on Steam. So even the rule of having a publisher is not hard and fast....

Come to think of it they should have a Steam GreenLight for publisher titles also....That way the debacle that is Alien's Colonial Marines would never get a chance to get on the service.....

Anton Pustovoyt
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The Alien's colonial Marines questionable quality only became apparent after release, due to all the NDAs journalists had to sign, so I am not sure how having it on greenlight would have prevented it. Gamers would have upvoted it anyways.

Lewis Wakeford
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I'm hoping this will be one of those situations where the decision was made by a single employee acting alone and everything gets resolved when someone with a bit more authority gets wind of what has occurred.

Nick Allen
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So Adult Swim promised them something they coulden't actually provide, and this is Valve's fault?

Tyler King
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So this sucks that this happened,bad form on Valve for doing this. I'm sure when this gets more press and attention then Valve will for the sake of their image let them on to Steam. It looks like a fun game and there is definitely tons of crap of steam, however after listening to the video interview I can't help but feel that video isn't going to do them any favors. Sure it brings to light the fact that they got screwed, and they did(Although Valve never promised them anything it was Adult Swim). But at the end of the video listening to them rant made me feel like they were self entitled indie developers who feel like their game is the greatest thing ever and the only reason why they are not millionaires from this is that Valve pulled the rug out from underneath them. Again I understand Valve denied them entrance for a stupid reason and this is their business and they depend on it, but it just left me with a bad taste in my mouth in the end.

Listening to their rant reminded me very much of listening to ios developers a couple years ago right after the boom. There was a lot of "I don't know why Apple isn't featuring my game its the most amazing thing ever, I pay $100 dollars a year to them and that entitles me to being featured by them." I've gotten the same gist from a lot of indies pushing to get on steam. If even 10% of games who submitted their games to greenlight got accepted by Valve there would be the same problem, too many games to feature. Green is a failed experiment especially since Gabe says he wants the platform to be open, it definitely isn't right now. However it will never be Valve's responsibility to promote a game, or even feature it for a day. There are too many games for that now. It will always be the responsibility of the developers to promote the game and if they can get one a publisher.

So for them to be ranting about how awful Valve is they, to me, are just coming across in a negative light. When they could have gracefully brought this to our attention in the same interview and been calm about it and just said "Hey here is this issue." And at least for me it would have been much easier to sympathize with them. Again I understand it absolutely is not fair what happened to them and it sucks. I went and voted for them on greenlight and wish them luck, however I just don't think publicly taking a dump on Valve is going to make Valve want to do you any favors.

Nick Vasilikiotis
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I don't get the hate against Valve. It was the safest PR move.
If they did indeed accept the game, they would have put themselves in a grey zone.
Somebody would eventually find out about this "sticky" situation and boom. The whole internet would blame them for "something evil i read on Kotaku".

Anton Pustovoyt
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That's hardly a sticky situation. As a developer, you have multiple options for release, I don't see the logic in forcing the devs to stick to one of them and ignore others, if the first didn't work out.

Jane Castle
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On another note, perhaps someone can answer me this question? Why does Steam have such dominance in the marketplace? I have purchased games from Gog and Desura and I found that not to be a problem.

What separates Valve from everyone else? Is it branding? For me I just buy games digitally to play on my PC. So I don't really care what platform I get them from.

I am just trying to understand why Valve enjoys such dominance.....

Kyle Redd
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They rose to dominance largely through being the first out of the gate by a wide margin. Steam was set up and stable for years before any other digital distro even got off the ground.

That, and Valve has traditionally had more consumer-friendly terms than other companies in regards to DRM, pricing, and community involvement (though I would argue that they have recently abandoned all of those principles and are no longer deserving of such distinction).

Jane Castle
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Thanks Kyle for explaining this. It is the "first mover" advantage that got them to that position.

Well on another note that doesn't mean that the dominance can last. A few false steps in the tech industry and one realizes just how fragile market dominance can be.....

Jamison Lockard
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I really don't understand. Fez is indie, right? I don't see its Greenlight page. How did it get on Steam?

You would think Valve would be welcoming indie games left and right, but instead they have been a huge roadblock to small developers. They were the guys that originally rejected Braid, for crying out loud (and then, when it became a hit on the XBox, they turned around and said, "maybe this is a good fit for distribution on Steam after all"). Only the top ~7% of games on Greenlight actually get the green light, and if you take away already established franchises like Leisure Suit Larry, Postal and Agarest, it's actually less than that. Then you tack on the $100 entrance fee.

Meanwhile they will take any crappy game from a big-name publisher, like Colonial Marines, without complaint.

Other digital distributors need to take note of this and snatch up indie games, maybe offer exclusive contracts for good-looking games that fail Greenlight.

K Gadd
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IGF winners (and I think nominees?) get Steam slots from Valve, at least unofficially (if not officially).

Kujel s
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This is just another example of valve not being as noble as the cult of gabe claims. I refuse to support steam and wont buy games through it nor will I sell any of my games through it. Accepting anyone with lots of money but turning away small guys even when they have an awesome game is typical of valve >:( They care about one thing only and that is gabe's wallet size, everything else doesn't matter to them.

Jane Castle
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While I agree somewhat with your sentiments they are not entirely accurate.

Zack Zero from Crocodile Entertainment (An INDIE developer with NO publisher) got onto the system without having to go through Green Light. So they don't exactly turn away the small guy.

Also with Steam Green Light this game would not have a prayer of getting onto Steam. My pet peeve is that the rules are not applied equitably amongst all the developers. It's like Valve says you go through Green Light, you don't need to.....

I am getting visions of Tron here: Games, Rectify, Games, Rectify.......

Essentially this is the same mysterious approval system they had before but with an additional layer to complicate matters.

You almost have to design a game to appeal to Steam GreenLight voters.... But wait, that also isn't a guarantee, because even if you have the votes you still may not get into Steam as they look at a "variety of factors when making a decision...."

[User Banned]
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Glenn Sturgeon
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i guess adult swim should have had a clue before they told the guys "we will get you on steam."

Tyler Shogren
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Greenlight is free, community-based marketing for indie devs, not publishers. That's what Valve is trying to say.

Nuttachai Tipprasert
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Last time I checked, you need to pay $100 just for submitting your games for review. I don't think this can be classified as "Free Marketing" for indie devs.

Tyler Shogren
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You're right, it's not technically free. It's just low cost enough to be practically free in most real contexts.

Bruno Xavier
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Here goes me deleting my greenlight page right now...

Nuttachai Tipprasert
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Sorry this might sound dump but I don't get what is the issue here? The game was submitted to Green Light, yes, and that when it didn't have publisher yet. But now the game has publisher, could it not be possible to just take down its Green Light page and publish through publisher's channel instead? If it's not, why's that? Does it mean that, once you submit your game to Green Light, you must wait until it green lit no matter what? How does this this form of dictatorship benefit indie developers? Anyone care to explain?

It seems like Valve just makes this issue unnecessary complicate or I'm just dump. But I don't really understand what their problems are.

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Seems like they where pretty mad about how things when down, and they have a lot of opinions about how things are and should be run even if they are not completely accurate, but they do have other options and really shouldn't limit themselves. They really need to learn not to let emotion get ahead of them when it comes to interviews regarding their dilemma. Emotion makes you sound entitled and unprofessional sometimes when not used in the right contxt. Computer games are a commercial business, not an art project based on individual self expression.