For anyone out there who thinks Valve are the almighty untouchable company thanks to their efforts with Steam, I urge you to take a step back and think things over for a minute. I for one would be thinking about Greenlight, Develop recently reported on a meeting between Greenlight developers and Valve where the lack of visibility of the service was brought up. That isn’t the only trouble though as today some more unsavoury news came to light.
Update – Valve’s Doug Lombardi has commented to PCGamesN about the Paranautical Activity issue with the following:
“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.”
Thanks to Twitterer Andy Durdin I came across two reports of indie devs either pulling their game from Greenlight or being rejected from Steam because of having a publisher in place after starting their Greenlight campaign. They are both in fact linked.
First up we have Paranautical Activity which has the publisher issue. In short, developers Code Avarice had put their title onto Greenlight back in September. In the meantime, publisher Adult Swim approached them with the goal of getting the game straight onto Steam. Adult Swim already have games like Super House of Dead Ninjas and Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe so you would have thought they would get Paranautical Activity on it without any problem. However Valve rejected this for the following reason as quoted on the Code Avarice blog:
Valve decided they “didn’t want to send the message that indies can seek out publishers to bypass steam greenlight” and pulled the rug out from under our feet.
As the team had put all their efforts being the deal with Adult Swim, they are now left in limbo having to rely on Greenlight to get onto Steam. I personally fail to see why a developer should be blocked from getting onto Steam because they were lucky enough to get a publisher after they started Greenlight.
Following that, Rob from Bagfull of Wrong decided to pull Death Ray Manta from Greenlight. It is important to note that Rob hasn’t pulled it because of what happened with Code Avarice, more that their issue was the catalyst for him to pull it down after previously airing his issues with the service. His final thoughts on his blog post were:
…that’s the main reason I pulled DRM from Greenlight because getting on a storefront, no matter how slim the chances of getting on it may be, shouldn’t be a horrid time consuming life sapping miserable chore. Yet that’s what Greenlight is to me, so goodbye Greenlight. Maybe I’ll see you again when you’re a bit less rubbish?
Is Greenlight working then? On the evidence of these two cases and the aforementioned previous grumblings from developers, it is looking a little bit frayed around the edge. I’m sure Valve can do something to make the service better for all involved, at the end of the day though it shouldn’t be this difficult for promising indie games to get onto PC gaming’s biggest form of DRM. I mean store-front.