Addendum on Classism

[Looking back at this, I fully understand why I found this behaviour so enraging, but Joel was right - personal accusations of classism don't really help. I do think it was wise to block some especially toxic people, but eventually I had to extend that blocking to people who were "on the same side" as myself in this issue, as it turned out that it was all personal to them, and that's not politics, that's kindergarten.]

So. It’s been almost precisely a month since the Steam Greenlight $100 controversy. Now Bentosmile (creator of Air Pressure) needs help to pay for unexpected medical bills and Amon26 (creator of All Of Our Friends Are Dead, Au Sable, Gyossait) just got an eviction notice. I guess that means they’re not real game developers. Not real indies, because real indies have money. That’s what makes you indie, right? Having money, being part of the system, going with the flow. That’s why we became indies. Because we believe quality is judged by budget. Just the like the mainstream games industry. In fact, the mainstream games industry is even more indie than we are.

Yeah, that’s it.

In the comments to his Electron Dance double feature on The One Hundred Dollar Question/The Infinite Ocean, A Weaponized Machine, the lovely and fine-smelling Joel Goodwin talked about how the accusation of classism is a bridge-burner:

Once the word classist has been invoked against someone, there’s obviously no way back for that discussion. I’m not saying it was inaccurate but it’s a bridge burner.

[...]

So someone like Adam Atomic who enabled many hobbyists with Flixel thinks the $100 thing is overblown. That sounds like someone you can have a conversation about – but I doubt Twitter is the place for it. Once classist is lobbed in, well, it’s game over with the pyrrhic victory achievement.

I burn bridges easily. I dislike wasting my time with people I feel cannot be convinced when there is real work to do, real problems to solve. So the comment about Adam Atomic got me thinking. There’s no denying the amazing contribution Flixel has been to indie game development. And I can’t pretend the people who took the other side in this debate like to murder puppies or enjoy Torchwood.

However.

The people who made a big deal about how $100 couldn’t possibly be a big deal to anyone weren’t just expressing a personal perference. They weren’t talking about their own situation and how it was OK for them. No. They were reacting to someone else saying “This is difficult for me. I am struggling.” by saying “No, you’re not. You’re lazy. You don’t deserve to do better.” There is absolutely no reason for an emotionally sane person to do this. Why just dismiss someone else’s suffering? Why dismiss the very possibility that someone is in trouble despite working hard – doubly so in today’s economic climate?

No-one – absolutely no-one – suggested that being able to afford $100 was a crime. No-one tried to exclude the developers who have more money. And no-one suggested that every game should get onto Steam. That “entitlement” right-wing developers are so very fond of talking about is absolutely fictional. Everyone agreed that content needed to be filtered, and pretty much everyone suggested a variety of methods that would not exclude people on the basis of money.

These comments weren’t about an opinion being expressed. They were an attack. They were about spitting in the faces of those who dared to suggest that all is not right with the world.

And you know what? I find that fucking enraging. When people are losing their homes, struggling to survive, how dare you dismiss their problems? Even if these weren’t people who have helped shape the indie scene that you now plan to make a profit from, even if they were complete unknowns who never achieved anything, how dare you attack another person for not keeping quiet about their problems? No-one is stopping you from submitting your game. No-one is accusing you of being a bad person or not a real developer for being able to afford something. What’s so hard about saying “$100 is not too much for me, but clearly not everyone is in the same situation as I am”?

In other words, why go out of your way to harm others when you don’t even benefit from it? Why make up complete horseshit about entitled indies just to ensure someone else’s problems aren’t taken seriously?

Actually, you know what, I don’t really care why. I have my theories, but the fact is that if you chose to make these arguments, if you can’t understand that people might have legit reasons for what they say, if you chose to link to that wonderful Aztez post with the photo of a whining child and inspirational quotes like “Go make a great game, and then everything will line up for you, assuming you’ve got half a brain.” – even if you didn’t read the post closely enough to realize those words were in there – then fuck you. Seriously, fuck you. I can take a lot from people, I follow the writings of people whose political opinions are miles away from mine, but if you can take someone else’s pain and mock and dismiss it like that then I want nothing to do with you. If you think it’s even remotely OK to equate people trying to make a point about financial inequality with pouting children then I think you’re disgusting and I’ll gladly burn the bridges to keep the mental plague away.

In theory, I get what Joel was talking about. I know why he feels this way, just like I know why people were telling me to give this person or that person another chance, repeat my arguments to them yet again in the hopes that maybe they’d attempt to parse at least a single sentence. But when someone has already responded to someone else’s easy-to-understand, utterly-common-in-this-world problems by linking to a vile rant about entitled babies, then I don’t think it’s worth the effort. That’s not even classism, that’s class hatred. And fuck that.

Now go support some indies. It won’t change the fundamental problems of the system, but it might help some people survive. As for myself, I’ve had a good month. After having to pay for doctors, insurances, food, website costs, phone bills and rent, I might actually be left with $100.

Probably not, though.

Leave a comment

32 Comments

  1. Nahil

     /  October 5, 2012

    It’s actually ignorance, not hatred, and I don’t feel like your rage is justified. I do agree with your point of view on the issue, though. Money needs to stay as far away as possible from expression and creativity. Not everyone can afford to throw away $100 and things don’t just magically work out because someone makes a great game.

  2. Zaphos

     /  October 5, 2012

    Re: “They were reacting to someone else saying “This is difficult for me. I am struggling.” by saying “No, you’re not. You’re lazy. You don’t deserve to do better.””

    I’m not sure I agree with this characterization exactly. Or at least, some of the dismissive comments I saw were not quite so mean. For example, Jonathan Blow was among those making dismissive comments about the Greenlight fee, but he followed up with: “If Anna Anthropy ran a kickstarter for $150 (to cover payment/Kickstarter fees and no-pays) it would pass almost instantly.” So I don’t think he meant that very talented developers with many fans like Anna and Amon and Bento are “lazy” or not deserving. Rather, he seemed to think that they’re in a better position than they think, because they have fans who are better off financially and will pay their IGF/Greenlight/etc fee if they ask. Along the same lines, I saw a number of offers to pay the Greenlight fee of struggling developers, from people who were being otherwise somewhat dismissive or uncomprehending of why a developer wouldn’t be able to sort it out themselves.

    That said, I don’t like the dismissive attitudes either, and that Aztez blog post was bad.

  3. As I said, I don’t think these people murder puppies. But in the face of the very real problems people are facing, I find the fact that they choose to go out of their way to dismiss them with such language and imagery to be extremely offensive.

  4. @Zaphos

    While a lot of people were well-meaning in saying things like ‘just use Kickstarter/Indiegogo’, this is not a viable and long term solution to the problem of the Greenlight/IGF fee. It will also further the idea of indie devs as grasping lazy bums who want everyone to pay them just for existing while is a attitude quite widespread in a lot of corners of the internet. Also I don’t think websites like Kickstarter would be happy having their catalogs full of pledge drives for devs looking for $100 for Greenlight/IGF fees. It would damage the image of their business as well. The issue of fees for things like IGF/Indiecade/Greenlight is tricky and a short term solution like borrow money/get it off fans is problematic and doesn’t solve the base issue behind the complaints and issues.

  5. @Nahil: You don’t go out of your way to shut someone up out of ignorance.

  6. matt w

     /  October 5, 2012

    @Pat Ashe: Agreed. And one of the factors that that Jonathan Blow post seems to miss is that if Anna or Bento or Amon were to run a Kickstarter for a game, they would probably need the money from the Kickstarter to keep themselves housed and fed. Even if they have resources to draw on in the form of fans that will support them, it’s still a burden if they have to pay $100 of those resources to get on Greenlight.

    (Not to mention that Greenlight seems so ill-thought out that it’s probably not worth paying $100 to get on if that’s a significant amount of money to you, but that’s another issue.)

  7. I just followed a years-old link in my Braid todo file, and ended up on this blog, so I figure it is synchronicity of some kind and I should reply.

    I agree that the “classist” rhetoric is not conducive to having a conversation. The reason is it’s not about the issue, but rather about the person: it’s an insult. In order for a reasonable conversation to happen, each party needs to be willing to genuinely understand the others’ positions and possibly allow one’s own position to be swayed. When the conversation begins with ad hominem attacks, it is a signal that this is kind of open conversation is unlikely.

    I am among those who think the Greenlight fee is not a big deal. I don’t think I have been insulting about it; at best I have made a tweet or two that were mildly dismissive. Here I will attempt to explain what I think about the $100 thing so that you see where my perspective, and see why I do not think I am “classist” and whatever else.

    Firstly, I see the reaction to the Greenlight fee among certain indie developers as an example of the well-known psychological phenomenon of loss aversion. Greenlight was free briefly, and now it costs money, and that is known to have a much bigger psychological sting than if it just cost money to begin with. That’s how the human brain reacts, but it doesn’t have much to do with the overall justifiability of the fee. This is a significant factor in how I perceive the complaints about the fee.

    The next thing I have to say is difficult to speak about without appearing to put words into Valve’s mouth. So I want to make it clear that I am not trying to speak for Valve, and I don’t pretend to know what they think. I absolutely don’t know, but here is how I perceive the situation:

    Steam is a store. It is not completely open, and is not even moderately open like the iOS App Store, but its barrier to entry is pretty low compared to something like XBLA or PSN. Despite that the barrier is pretty low, they have a business model where they want games on Steam to sell a certain number of copies. If a lot of games sell less than that, they have maybe lost money on those games, and have probably diluted the perceived quality of Steam as a service. (I don’t really know that this latter is actually what happens, but maybe it is, and it is probably part of the thinking).

    Steam doesn’t magically sell your game. They have a pretty big audience that can be very nice, but it’s an amplifier. If you can’t already sell your game in a reasonable volume on the Web, it is unlikely to expect that it will sell very well on Steam (rare exceptions aside). If it is unlikely to sell very well on Steam, then it is probably a game that Steam doesn’t want to greenlight. If you reverse this chain of logic, you see the implication that a game that Steam wants to sell is probably already generating more than a $100 surplus for the developer.

    Again, this is not Valve’s position, it is my guess at their position, which is inevitably going to be somewhat wrong. My guess is that Valve probably thinks it’s nice if they can help out very poor indie developers sometimes, but that is not their business model; it can’t be, because there is an unending supply of poor indie developers (and kids in high school and wannabes and etc) the vast majority of whom have games that Steam doesn’t want to publish.

    If you are a software publisher and you are looking for effective business partners, it is reasonable to expect that those partners have a $100 surplus (if not then they are not doing well at business!)

    This isn’t classist, because it has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of any developer’s game, or any moral judgement of their situation. It is just the simple observation that if you are doing well at business you probably have $100 extra, and if you don’t have $100 extra then that is a red flag in terms of the game’s expected sales on any publishing system (though certainly not a guarantee; there can always be surprises).

    If you just think from the direction “I am pretty poor, and being on Steam would get me extra money, so I should be on Steam,” then it’s hard to see this; but if you put yourself in Steam’s shoes and look the other way, the situation looks different. It’s not any publisher’s job to get you a little bit of extra money! Some of the rhetoric from anti-fee developers seems to imply that it is, which is where I think accusations of “entitlement attitude” come from (though I don’t think that these accusations are helpful in discussion).

    Here’s an exercise for anyone who is barely scraping to make ends meet: estimate what the sales of your game would be on Steam, based on what they are on the Web. The result of this estimate is probably an amount of money that would probably be helpful for the developer to have, but that is also well below the sales figure of the bottom quartile on Steam. Should it be Valve’s job to publish games with very low sales numbers? If so, why? If they could do it, how would they do it without getting drowned or losing more money than they are making you? This would be a reasonable discussion to have, but I don’t see that discussion happening.

    (I have seen a lot of people suggesting “they should just hire people to sort through the submissions!) but *this costs a lot of money*, so this suggestion is effectively saying that Valve should pay a lot to make a small number of indie developers a little bit of money. It doesn’t make much sense.

    I was pretty poor at times in college, sometimes having a few dollars to eat for a few days, so I know how that feels (though in my case it was mostly due to my own poor money management). But I also believe that anyone who can program a game is, relative to most people in the world, a skilled worker with the means to make money if that is desired. I have done a fair bit of remote programming work for various companies over the past 20 years, sometimes to fund my own game projects when I ran out of money.

    I don’t know… I probably have a lot more to say about this, but I am pretty tired right now and I am not sure how coherently this is coming out. If you guys want to worry about something, I would worry about Microsoft’s intended transition of Windows 8 from an open software ecosystem to a closed app system (which will cost you more to get on than Greenlight!) since, extrapolated over years, this can take away the sizeable open market that we already have.

    (But again I am not surprised people aren’t freaking out about this, because it is a boiling-the-frog kind of situation and not a loss-aversion kind of situation).

    Anyway, just know that I respect your situation; I just disagree that the fee is a big deal.

  8. Hi Jonathan,

    This is a bit difficult for me to answer without becoming emotional, because I’ve gone over these arguments both on Twitter and in the original article that I wrote about this matter, and to a large degree you’ve just repeated them. I understand that you don’t mean to be disrespectful; the accusation of classism isn’t necessarily an insult (though it is clearly negative), or at least not necessarily an insinuation of intentional moral misbehaviour.

    If you just think from the direction “I am pretty poor, and being on Steam would get me extra money, so I should be on Steam,”

    This is a pretty good example of a completely fictitious argument. Who ever argued that? I can’t think of a single developer of those who spoke up who argued from such a position; in fact, I’d say that it’s a completely obvious straw man. “I need the money so I should be allowed on the biggest, most prestigious market available” – really? You may choose to believe that this is what we are secretly motivated by, but you certainly couldn’t come to that conclusion from the arguments we made. (Please also note that these arguments aren’t solely coming from people who are themselves poor. That someone like Terry Cavanagh expressed his agreement with our position is not in and of itself an argument, but surely you can’t claim that he’s saying this because VVVVVV was such a failure and he has no money.)

    Some actual arguments we made:
    – the fee does not serve to exclude terrible games made by deluded people, only joke submissions
    – there is a variety of other possibilities for excluding bad submissions (we made suggestions)
    – in today’s fragmented and overflooded market, a game’s lack of financial success does not equal a lack of quality
    – particularly when so much attention is focused on Steam and being on Steam “legitimizes” a game in the eyes of many
    – in today’s economic situation, even moderate success outside Steam does not necessarily translate to people actually having money left over
    – given the lack of a functional safety net in most countries, there’s a variety of ways one can get into a situation where one has no money
    – for a moving example of the above, see Rob Fearon’s post
    – indie game development is an international phenomenon, and conditions vary from country to country: just “getting a job to pay the bills” isn’t that easy

    But I also believe that anyone who can program a game is, relative to most people in the world, a skilled worker with the means to make money if that is desired.

    You forget a whole variety of problems with this perspective:
    – Not everyone making indie games today is a hugely accomplished programmer. That’s what’s been so remarkable about the last few years: the fact that people from different backgrounds have become able to make complete and proper games, bringing their own unique abilities to the table. That’s what Anna Anthropy’s book is about, and whether you like her or not, it represents a large chunk of the innovation and originality so widely praised about indie games. But the ability to make an awesome game in, say, AGS, does not necessarily translate to being able to do database programming. There’s still a great deal of derision coming from “proper programmers” about this, but I don’t think that’s much of an argument.
    – You assume people can easily work side jobs to make a bit of cash, but is that true for everyone? Apart from people facing discrimination because of their background or appearance (because they are working-class, or gay, or immigrants, or whatever is currently considered evil), there’s the quite simple fact that a lot of us are *already* working such jobs just to survive. I think you’re failing to imagine just how hard life can be when you don’t have the sort of background you have. Now I’m sure your life hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, and I’m sure that from your perspective you suffered for your art, but millions of people are experiencing difficulties magnitudes greater than “I had some hard times in college.” And they’re still making games, because they believe in the medium, because it’s where their talent lies, because they have a vision.
    – Consider just how many talented, well-educated people are living in the streets today, or barely making a living in shitty jobs. We don’t live in a meritocracy. There are nuclear physicists working in burger joints. Unemployment is through the roof in most countries.
    – With the massive supply of low-cost labour due to unemployment, it’s easy for companies to go to the lowest bidder. That’s why people in many countries are working multiple jobs at the same time and *still* not scraping by.
    – Let’s also not forget that the Flash game market, which was so helpful to so many indies, has pretty much gone down the drain.

    All in all, I feel you’re basically making the argument “it’s easy for me, so it must be easy for everyone else.” But that’s just not the world we live in. If your argument then continues to “then don’t make games”, as it does for a lot of people, then we’re going back to classism and to turning the indie scene into just a bunch of middle-class white dudes from the US and Britain (a condition we are just managing to escape).

    (I have seen a lot of people suggesting “they should just hire people to sort through the submissions!) but *this costs a lot of money*, so this suggestion is effectively saying that Valve should pay a lot to make a small number of indie developers a little bit of money. It doesn’t make much sense.

    – Would it really cost that much money? More than your average forum moderator weeding out the trolls?
    – Is the purpose of putting indie games on Steam to do indie developers a favour? You seem to be contradicting your own point about Valve being a business here. If Valve is doing this for business reasons, then it’s reasonable to assume they intend to make money from indie games, and if they intend to make money from indie games, it’s only reasonable to expect them to put some effort into supervising the submissions system. I’m sorry but you can’t just build a submissions system without proper oversight – that’s why in the world of writing there are editors and slush pile readers and the like. (I should also mention Yog’s Law at this point as another reason many of us with a background in writing find this system to be deplorable.)

    But by focusing on Greenlight, you’re missing the point of the debate. Most of us aren’t really upset about Greenlight, but about the reaction of certain parts of the indie scene towards those who said that they can’t afford $100.

    I don’t think I have been insulting about it; at best I have made a tweet or two that were mildly dismissive.

    “Let them eat cake” is also mildly dismissive; it’s also not meant to insult. I know it’s fictional, of course, but it’s still an excellent example of the kind of phrase that illustrates privilege and the ignorance that comes with it. When someone like Amon26, who’s made some absolutely lovely games, is facing eviction and homelessness, do you think your dismissiveness comes across as mild and harmless? In a world that is continuously tumbling into economic catastrophe, do you think even mild dismissiveness is an appropriate response to people saying that a certain measure will completely exclude them? Even your talk of loss aversion, reducing people’s arguments down to a neat psychological package that can be easily dismissed, is not only quite offensive, but also clearly comes from someone who *can* afford things; to you it seems logical that the only reason people would complain about having to pay more is psychological. Whereas the obvious reason that if the price is higher, they simply cannot afford it isn’t even considered. But that’s the reality the majority of people have to live with.

    Basically – try to imagine for a second that other people might have legitimate reasons for saying what they say. That while things went well for you, that may have to do with more than just talent. (That’s not to deny your talent, but to say that environmental factors may play a bigger part than you imagine.) Try to imagine what it might be like to be someone else, who doesn’t have even the resources that you consider normal and don’t even think about. Try imagining you’re someone who believes in making games, who’s made games that thousands of people loved, but because of your background and the difficulty of finding work in today’s economy you’re losing your apartment and you have no money and someone comes and says what amounts to “either you’re just whining or you just suck at what you do”. Is that OK? Is that the basis on which we should build our community?

    We’re talking about classism because the real issue *is* the people.

  9. Jonathan:
    The accusations of classism aren’t directed at Steam – you’re absolutely right that it’s perfectly reasonable for them as a business to exclude certain games from their store, I don’t think anybody is disagreeing with this (although, as someone who’s currently able to continue making games only because I got a game on Steam that would not have gotten through Greenlight, it makes me sad that the opportunity I had won’t be there for others). They’re directed at developers who, on hearing other developers say that this is a cost they can’t afford, responded with disbelief and mockery. So it’s a third-order response; a response to a response to a response; but it’s understandable that you’d miss this if you weren’t following the discussion closely.

  10. Mark

     /  October 9, 2012

    I think Jonathan presented a very rational and well thought out response why he personally doesn’t think the Greenlight fee is a big deal. Even if you don’t agree with him I think his post should be enough for anyone thinking rationally to see where he’s coming from and why he holds that position.

    As this argument continues to be dragged out in what seems to be a fairly unfocused and unproductive manner I find myself losing most of the respect I had for you Jonas.

    You open by accusing Jonathan of presenting a fictitious argument. (Which is funny because Michael’s comment afterwards about Steam paying for his living almost confirms the argument you’re shooting down.) However you then spend much of your reply making up your own fictitious arguments about what Jonathan is really saying. Replying to assumption rather than directly what he has to say.

    Also like many of the discussions on this topic you keep derailing it by saying “Most of us aren’t really upset about Greenlight, but about the reaction of certain parts of the indie scene towards those who said that they can’t afford $100.” as if the two thing are completely unrelated. In his reply Jonathan explained really clearly why he felt people who wanted to be on Steam should be able to raise that kind of money with their game or they’re probably not going to do well on Steam. That’s the heart of the issue, that’s why people reacted in a way you found so unpleasant. If you’re only willing to discuss people’s knee jerk reactions and not get into the root of what led them to that then you’re not really having any kind of discussion.

    What makes me sad about this is I agree with a lot of what you have to say. I think the extremists who said a proper developer would have $100 are very closed minded and ignorant people. However I despise that you’ve used the comments of a handful of extremists to misrepresent a lot of very intelligent and talented people who’ve tried to engage in reasonable discussion on the issue. You’ve repeatedly acted like anyone who disagrees with you is putting their flag in that camp. When in reality there’s a lot of subtlety and nuance to the different views people have on this subject.

    Mostly in these arguments you’ve just come across as someone spouting the same angry rhetoric at anyone who dares disagree rather than a rational intelligent person trying to understand someone else’s point of view and then discuss it. It all seems so close minded and counter productive.

    I’m also uncomfortable with the other developers you’ve brought into this argument. You use very miserable times in Rob Fearon, Amon26 and Bento Smile’s life to score points in an argument. It feels like you show them little respect in the hard time they find themselves in and instead see it as a chance to say “SEE I AM RIGHT!”. If your blog post had been about getting people to contribute to Amon26 and BentoSmile that would have been admirable, but instead you used it to show off how righteous you were. Actually makes my stomach churn how exploitive I find that.

    Mostly this is just a sad comment I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write this. Before this argument I had a lot of respect for you. I also fundamentally agree with you on the position that $100 is exclusionary and that indie game development shouldn’t be like that. However I’ve just found the manner in which you’ve attacked those who disagree with you lacking in the humanity you plead from them.

  11. (Which is funny because Michael’s comment afterwards about Steam paying for his living almost confirms the argument you’re shooting down.)

    So you believe that Michael thinks the main reason his game deserves to be on Steam is because he needs the money, not because it’s a good game that deserves to be played?

    Also like many of the discussions on this topic you keep derailing it by saying “Most of us aren’t really upset about Greenlight, but about the reaction of certain parts of the indie scene towards those who said that they can’t afford $100.” as if the two thing are completely unrelated.

    Why is focusing on the aspect that I think is the actual root cause of the problem derailing the discussion?

    That’s the heart of the issue, that’s why people reacted in a way you found so unpleasant. If you’re only willing to discuss people’s knee jerk reactions and not get into the root of what led them to that then you’re not really having any kind of discussion.

    Why is it the heart of the issue? Was WWI all about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand? The reaction to the Greenlight debate sheds light on the fundamental assumptions that underlie people’s behaviour towards each other in the indie scene. As such it was what started the debate but not its root cause.

    You might also have noticed that I went into a fair amount of detail in responding to Jonathan about Greenlight, so I don’t really think that constitutes derailing.

    I’m also uncomfortable with the other developers you’ve brought into this argument. You use very miserable times in Rob Fearon, Amon26 and Bento Smile’s life to score points in an argument. It feels like you show them little respect in the hard time they find themselves in and instead see it as a chance to say “SEE I AM RIGHT!”. If your blog post had been about getting people to contribute to Amon26 and BentoSmile that would have been admirable, but instead you used it to show off how righteous you were. Actually makes my stomach churn how exploitive I find that.

    Wow. So using actual examples of people who are actually suffering and have spoken openly about their problems, because I care about these people, is selfish?

    However I’ve just found the manner in which you’ve attacked those who disagree with you lacking in the humanity you plead from them.

    Ah, that old argument. I have to be extra nice to everyone even when they fail to even attempt to engage. Thanks, I’ve heard this before, I still don’t buy it. Besides, I believe I was rather friendly to Jonathan in my post above even though I find his arguments to be quite offensive.

    I wonder why you had so much respect for me before, because I have trouble imagining you’ve played any of my games or read the stuff I’ve written before if you are shocked and appalled that I wouldn’t argue the way you’d like me to argue.

  12. I would like to think that Jonathan Blow and others will read Jonas’ careful response in the comments here. I think on occasion he’s been a little fast to jump to conclusions about people (or at least appear, in his frustration, as if he is jumping to conclusions about them), but the response to Jonathan Blow’s reply is nothing if not measured, very clear in pointing out where the logic falls down, and leaves no gaps in pointing out where certain types of argument seem disingenuous or offensive.

    I don’t know how anyone could read that response and not, at the very least, think: Well, this has given me something to think about.

  13. Mark

     /  October 9, 2012

    I meant Michael’s comment indicated he wanted his game to be on Steam so he wasn’t poor. Neither my comment not the one of of Jonathan’s I was referencing made any qualitive assumptions about his game. You just added that in.

    I guess maybe we disagree about the root cause here then. Because to me the root cause is that people looked at the greenlight thing, decided they didn’t think it was a big deal and expressed surprise others did. While perhaps you see the root cause being that the people who expressed surprise have no sympathy for poor people and should be ashamed of themselves.

    This by the way is me trying to understand where the difference of opinion comes from. This is something you seem to refuse to do in every discussion you have.

    It feels like you’re on a witch hunt for evil capitalists looking down on the poor. When actually the people involved are trying to understand why you’re demonising them for their reactions to greenlight. They’re explaining the cause of their reactions and you keep telling them “that’s not the point”.

    My problem with your examples as I already said was that Amon26 and BentoSmile are both in a bind right now. A really humane and caring thing to do would have been to blogged about their plight and try to encourage your fans to help them out as best they could. Instead you took their misery and used it to help try and win an argument. This is really selfish and you definitely should be ashamed of yourself for this. I’m sure they might not feel exploited personally, because I imagine they’re good people and will show some sympathy. However make no mistake, your actions ARE exploitive. Though I admit I doubt you did so intentionally.

    I’m also not trying to say you should play nice in all arguments. I just think you are very close minded in your interactions with other people and it means that come across like a bully in these debates. People who disagree with you are trying to have a rational discussion but you are not even willing to entertain their point of views to try and find some understanding of why you disagree. You seem to want to shout everyone down. Mostly it just makes all the discussion fruitless.

    Finally I have played just about all of your games. Though not all to completion. I used to admire your work. Though at this point I have grave doubts about you as the compassionate human being you claim to be.

  14. Okay, I’ll go through this list of point and say what my view is on each of them:

    - the fee does not serve to exclude terrible games made by deluded people, only joke submissions

    Nobody disagrees with this. The purpose of the fee, I believe, is to improve the signal-to-noise ratio on the public-facing part of Greenlight so that it can actually function as intended, so that the community will be looking at actual games that exist or have a reasonable chance of existing. It appears to achieve that goal, so I am not sure why anyone would think this is a reasonable objection.

    - there is a variety of other possibilities for excluding bad submissions (we made suggestions)

    I haven’t seen any that made sense to me. Of course I probably haven’t read all of the suggestions, so if you’d like to make a couple that seem best then I can reply to those specifically.

    The idea of hiring slushpile readers does not make sense to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is expensive. Probably it costs more than $150,000 per year, maybe much more, though admittedly I don’t know for sure (for this scenario I am assuming a couple of kids who are working for relatively cheaply, plus a more-experienced senior Valve person overseeing them and ensuring quality control, plus all the accompanying overheads). It is difficult to justify this expense; how many games do you have to get from people who otherwise would not have had $100 in order to cover this?

    Having been a short-fiction writer for a brief period earlier in life, I will say this: If you want to know what’s classist, slushpiles are classist. It is *hard* to get through a slushpile, even with a good story, because people just aren’t paying serious attention to most of the stories, because there is too much stuff. The easiest way to get through a slushpile is to already be famous or successful. In that sense the $100 fee is actually more egalitarian because once you are past that barrier it is an even playing field, and it is just about how much attention you can garner for your game (which admittedly is about *becoming* slightly more famous and successful, but this is better than the requirement of already being so).

    But the other reason this doesn’t make sense is that it is not how Valve runs their company. They don’t hire low-wage high-school interns. Their model is to hire senior, talented people, and give those people full freedom over what they choose to do. Nobody actually wants to pick through a slushpile for very long. To keep within their company model, Valve would have to outsource to someone else, which is another way to drive up price and/or reduce quality.

    Also, the philosophical purpose of Greenlight is that the *community* picks the games, and this purpose would seem to be interfered with heavily if there is a slushpile reader pre-censoring the games.

    About this related point, from later in the message:

    If Valve is doing this for business reasons, then it’s reasonable to assume they intend to make money from indie games, and if they intend to make money from indie games, it’s only reasonable to expect them to put some effort into supervising the submissions system.

    I know some people who agree with this, who think that it’s kind of irresponsible or at least weird to run a big online publishing system and not have people whose explicit job it is to dig through submissions.

    I don’t necessarily agree. What Valve is doing works, and I don’t think it’s my role to tell them how to structure their company.

    But the thing is, your quote above is missing a few words that would make the situation clearer. It’s not that Valve intends to make money from indie games, it’s that they intend to make money from *a certain small subset* of indie games.

    Yes, they could be attempting to find this subset in a way that does not cost developers $100, but again, they are doing things in a way that fits the kind of company they are trying to run and the vision of what kind of service they are trying to run (the community picking the Greenlight games, not their internal guys). They aren’t doing it in a way you like, but on the other hand, it could be much worse: they didn’t have to have an open submission or community feedback process at all! (XBLA doesn’t have one, for example.)

    - in today’s fragmented and overflooded market, a game’s lack of financial success does not equal a lack of quality

    Agreed, in the large. But I don’t think that “$100 surplus” is equal to “financial success”. “$100 surplus” is a relatively low bar, capitalistically speaking. If someone’s game is not meeting that bar, but is still notable or special, there are other methods (getting the money from friends or family, the aforementioned Kickstarter option — which would be kind of funny at a small amount like $200). I agree that having to borrow money sucks, but usually if it is for a very specific purpose like “I have this beautiful thing that people might buy and I need the money for this very specific reason,” that sucks a lot less (and people are a lot more likely to help out) than “I am just poor right now and need money, can you give me some?”

    People like helping to bring interesting things into the world. I wouldn’t underestimate that.

    – particularly when so much attention is focused on Steam and being on Steam “legitimizes” a game in the eyes of many

    I don’t think this is true. I am well familiar with this kind of legitimization effect since my game Braid definitely benefitted from it; because it was released on a console first, it was probably taken more seriously than if it had launched only on the PC. (btw, Steam rejected Braid and only accepted it later, after it was a hit on XBLA).

    I don’t see Steam as having an equivalent legitimization effect; it probably does have some effect, but it’s small. There just isn’t that much of a perceived difference between downloading a game from the Web and downloading one from Steam.

    – in today’s economic situation, even moderate success outside Steam does not necessarily translate to people actually having money left over

    I see this as essentially similar to the “fragmented and overflooded market” point above. They are different phrasings of the same point.

    - given the lack of a functional safety net in most countries, there’s a variety of ways one can get into a situation where one has no money

    – for a moving example of the above, see Rob Fearon’s post

    Agreed, but why is the onus on Valve to solve this?

    Or if we are talking about other indie developers’ reactions, and not just the Greenlight fee, then I think some perspective is in order.

    We are basically in the first time in history when people can sell intangible things to other people all around the world, with no barrier to entry, and make money from that. Because of the Internet, we have more opportunity in this sense than anyone else ever in the history of mankind.

    I think if some indie developers are reacting with derision (“whining baby” type of comments), it has implicitly to do with this perspective. It’s like, “oh, the Internet is not good enough for you already, you have to be in one particular place on the Internet?” I don’t think it’s productive to argue this in an insulting way, but the point is valid.

    Certainly when I started developing indie games in 1996, the barriers were **tremendously** higher than they are now. Because I have seen this change, and I know how much easier it is now, it is hard for me to accept an argument that barriers right now are too high.

    If there is a way to make barriers lower, while maintaining quality and making efficient use of everyone’s time and effort, I am all for that! I just don’t have a better idea at this time than the submission fee.

    - indie game development is an international phenomenon, and conditions vary from country to country: just “getting a job to pay the bills” isn’t that easy

    I agree with this too. “Job on the side” isn’t a catch-all for everyone, and in fact I encourage any indie developer *not* to work another job if they are able (because I think it impacts the quality of the work). But it is an option for many. And if they can’t afford the Greenlight fee, and can’t borrow it from anyone or Kickstart it either, again, it is not the end of the world, as they are still on the Internet in general and can sell their game there.

    As I said last post, the real danger is that this last option goes away. I have a friend who is going to post an article about this later today; I will crosspost here when it is ready because I think it is a very important issue.

  15. Jonathan: I have an idea that’s already better than $100… $50. It’s still high enough to weed out the majority of joke submissions (and reporting abuse would hoover up the rest). Maybe even $20 would be but let’s say $50, just because it’s neat.

    $50 is twice as easy for poor people to find than $100. Actually, it’s more than twice as easy, because I don’t think affordability works on a linear scale. But it’s at LEAST twice as easy, which makes me wonder why they thought $100 was a good number in the first place.

    I still think the fee is a blunt instrument for a subtle problem, and I still think that there has to be a solution to the submission problem that works better for everyone. I think some of the suggestions have been reasonable (they are in Jonas’ main post). But anyway, that’s Valve’s job to figure out and the reason I find the fee a surprise is that Valve typically take a cleverer approach than simply ‘slap a fee on it’, especially when dealing with problems that would appear to demand some subtelty.

  16. I meant Michael’s comment indicated he wanted his game to be on Steam so he wasn’t poor. Neither my comment not the one of of Jonathan’s I was referencing made any qualitive assumptions about his game. You just added that in.

    Nope. Jonathan described people coming from a type of logic he characterized as:

    “I am pretty poor, and being on Steam would get me extra money, so I should be on Steam,” [emphasis mine]

    That people want to be on Steam in order to make money is obvious, it’s a market. But the idea that they justify their desire to be on there with their financial needs is fallacious, and Michael’s post in no way supports such an argument.

    It feels like you’re on a witch hunt for evil capitalists looking down on the poor. When actually the people involved are trying to understand why you’re demonising them for their reactions to greenlight.

    I find it telling that you say I’m demonising people for their reactions to Greenlight, when every comment I’ve made has been about their reaction to other people’s reactions. I’ve never once said that there’s something wrong with the people who can afford to pay for Greenlight (the capitalist witch hunt you’re imagining), I’ve only expressed my problem with those who refuse to entertain the possibility that others are being honest when they say that they can’t afford it. That’s been consistent since my first post on Twitter and the first article I wrote. You keep saying I’m attacking people, but all I’ve done is defend.

    My problem with your examples as I already said was that Amon26 and BentoSmile are both in a bind right now. A really humane and caring thing to do would have been to blogged about their plight and try to encourage your fans to help them out as best they could. Instead you took their misery and used it to help try and win an argument. This is really selfish and you definitely should be ashamed of yourself for this. I’m sure they might not feel exploited personally, because I imagine they’re good people and will show some sympathy. However make no mistake, your actions ARE exploitive. Though I admit I doubt you did so intentionally.

    That’s actually one of the most disgusting and offensive things anyone has ever written on this blog, and it is taking me a great deal of effort to remain calm.

    I find it extremely absurd of you to claim that I’ve posted about the issues these people are having out of some kind of selfish motivation. Beyond the claim that I haven’t tried to get people to support them – which I did both in this very post and extensively on Twitter – I find it insane of you to argue that I shouldn’t mention the plights of actual people when that is what we’re talking about. I’m sure you would find it all very convenient if all we argued about was abstract concepts, but that this involves real people is the essence of the entire argument. People, real people, are suffering right now, and that matters. Hell, it should be completely obvious that this post was written out of anger at how these specific people that I care about are treated, about just how awful these accusations of whining sound when contrasted with the reality of real people suffering.

    And no, I’m not just going to keep trying to help this indie or that without talking about the deeper problems at hand; that was one of my objections to the various suggestions of how you could raise or borrow $100 in the first place. All of which is expressed in what I wrote:

    Now go support some indies. It won’t change the fundamental problems of the system, but it might help some people survive.

    But you’re taking the fact that I care about these people and trying to twist it into some kind of ideological abuse of their suffering. And if anyone should be ashamed here, it’s you.

    I just think you are very close minded in your interactions with other people and it means that come across like a bully in these debates. People who disagree with you are trying to have a rational discussion but you are not even willing to entertain their point of views to try and find some understanding of why you disagree. You seem to want to shout everyone down. Mostly it just makes all the discussion fruitless.

    Oh, this argument again. Whenever someone sticks to their logic and explains themselves, they are suddenly bullies, even if all they did was *defend* others against accusations of being whiny entitled non-developers. And still I’m writing pages upon pages of responses, restating my arguments, explaining the details. But it doesn’t count if I don’t say what you want me to say. And for not being compassionate and understanding of people’s refusal to take seriously the problems of others, I’m just shouting everyone down.

  17. Mark

     /  October 9, 2012

    I like how you skipped responding to the bit where I tried to find some understanding of where the disagreement comes from. Demonstrates clearly what I’m talking about.

    You characterise your comments in this discussion as defensive. I guess I just don’t see that in your words. I see constant attack, I see relentless misrepresentation of other people’s opinons and positions. If I had the time I would go back through all your posts and comments and find examples but I’m already tiring of this discussion. You don’t seem willing to discuss anything, so I’m just wasting my time.

    If you don’t want to resolve a debate by at least understanding the people who disagree with you than I guess that’s your choice. You can sit on your moral high horse and imagine yourself to be defender of the poor and weak.

    “But you’re taking the fact that I care about these people and trying to twist it into some kind of ideological abuse of their suffering. And if anyone should be ashamed here, it’s you.”

    In the blog post you made after this one you included tweets about Amon26’s difficulties in paying rent. You then posted a screenshot of someone trying to rationalise why they didn’t think greenlight was a big deal. Your comment implies that blog post was an inappropriate reaction to Amon’s suffering. You totally misrepresented someone else trying to engage in discussion about Greenlight and you used someone else’s misery as ammunition. That’s sick and twisted. Apart from your vague comment of “Now go support some indies.” you’re posts focus mainly on how right you were all along.

    There are a lot of people out there struggling to get by, some are game developers and I totally agree we need to do what we can to make the situation better. I just think when you chose to write your blog posts you made it clear it was more important to you personally to win this $100 debate than to try and help out fellow developers.

  18. @Jonathan:

    I think you vastly underestimate what it’s like to live with poverty. The stress, the lack of time, nearly everything becomes infinitely more difficult. It’s just not the same as when you had a bit less money in college; it’s debilitating, and the fact that people are managing to make games anyway is quite remarkable. But even the solutions you suggest are completely based on the life of someone with a relative amount of comfort. Not that these options are impossible, but a successful Kickstarter or IndieGoGo take time and effort that may be hard to find; Amon26, for example, was working on an IGG campaign when the money ran out.

    Or take the suggestion of just borrowing money from friends and family; there are plenty of places where $100 is a month’s salary. It’s not easy to ask for that kind of money for just a submission fee to a giant arena where your game may be torn to pieces. People can’t afford to waste that kind of money on a total what-if.

    But as I’ve said before, no matter how much it upsets Mark, I don’t think Greenlight is the central issue. Yeah, I think the system Valve picked sucks, but it’s not the end of the indie scene. The condescension and dismissal experienced by developers of lower economic backgrounds, however, threatens everything that I find valuable about indie games. (Others obviously disagree and can’t wait for all the amateurs and freaks to get out of the way. Though I’m not arguing that that’s what everyone who disagrees with me wants!)

  19. I like how you skipped responding to the bit where I tried to find some understanding of where the disagreement comes from. Demonstrates clearly what I’m talking about.

    The fact that you claim it doesn’t mean it’s true or even worth responding to. What has the point of all this discussion been if not to illuminate differences of opinion? By responding to people’s comments and attempting to explain where I think they are wrong (or right), have I not attempted to engage, and mostly in a civil tone at that? Unless of course by “understanding” you mean “agreement”.

    You characterise your comments in this discussion as defensive. I guess I just don’t see that in your words. I see constant attack

    An attack is something that moves forward. What have I done except tried to explain why people are opposed to the fee and then defended them from accusations of being whiny and entitled? Sure, of course I’ve harshly criticized the people who made such comments. But I didn’t go out of my way to harm people simply for their financial situations. I never said there’s something wrong with saying “I can afford this” – I’ve only said there’s something wrong with saying “If you’re claiming you can’t afford this, you’re either lying or an idiot.”

    In the blog post you made after this one you included tweets about Amon26′s difficulties in paying rent. You then posted a screenshot of someone trying to rationalise why they didn’t think greenlight was a big deal. Your comment implies that blog post was an inappropriate reaction to Amon’s suffering. You totally misrepresented someone else trying to engage in discussion about Greenlight and you used someone else’s misery as ammunition.

    Actually, in my post I made it clear that I was talking about a type of reaction to a type of situation. Given that the post was an addendum to the original article and the screenshot was from a reaction to that article, I think it was perfectly legitimate to use a recent event to illustrate how inappropriate that response was.

    I find it particularly telling, by the way, that you describe that vicious attack as “someone trying to rationalise why they didn’t think greenlight was a big deal” – by posting pictures of crying babies? That you describe my defense of Amon as “sick and twisted” but have no problem of people sinking to that level says a lot.

    I just think when you chose to write your blog posts you made it clear it was more important to you personally to win this $100 debate than to try and help out fellow developers.

    I’m not interested in winning, because this isn’t a game, and I don’t actually think I could convince people like you of anything. I write only to defend people, and I believe it’s rather obvious that the entire post was written primarily out of the desire to say “this is not OK”, out of anger at good and talented people being in trouble.

  20. Hi Jon

    “Agreed, but why is the onus on Valve to solve this?”

    I’d just like to clarify my stance on this in case it’s not clear, I don’t believe it is on Valve to solve this. At all.

    If nothing else, and I appreciate that you know and appreciate this also so this is more for the peanut gallery, I posted my story to demonstrate that there is no $100 dividing line between a “serious” developer and a “not serious” one and that life is invariably more nuanced and things happen where you can’t just bootstrap.

    @Mark, really, Jonas is not abusing me or my name or my tale in anyway. I would appreciate it if you would stop implying that he is, thank you.

  21. I don’t see Steam as having an equivalent legitimization effect; it probably does have some effect, but it’s small. There just isn’t that much of a perceived difference between downloading a game from the Web and downloading one from Steam.

    I would really, really doubt that, but I don’t think either of us has any hard data.

  22. BTW, Jonathan, I’d like to say I appreciate how civil your comments have been. I was quite angry at you and do continue to believe that you’re wrong, but I’m really very happy that you’ve been so friendly. I might not have been.

  23. Thanks for noticing. It is hard to have reasonable discussions sometimes, even harder on the internet. I am much better at my end of that than I used to be.

    It’s okay if you think I’m wrong, and I am not trying to win an argument; I’m just trying to explain why I have the viewpoint that I have.

    One additional thing that I haven’t mentioned is that a lot of this still strikes me as a debate about a largely hypothetical problem. Do we know anyone who has a game that is reasonable (i.e. not one of the junk entries that flooded Greenlight initially) and who put reasonable effort into getting $100 to submit the game to Greenlight, but wasn’t able to?

    This is also hypothetical, since The Sea Will Claim Everything was posted before the fee, but I am pretty sure that if you were to make a blog posting to the effect of “I am very poor and I need $100 (plus paypal fees / etc) to send to Greenlight, please press the donate button” that you would get the money. (Donate buttons sitting on pages generally do not pull in much money, but when attached to a specific attempt like this, it easily becomes a story). You are a known independent developer and there are people out there who like your game. So I would not underestimate the support that someone in your position could get.

  24. Here is the article I mentioned about the potentially much bigger problem coming up with Windows. (The author also happens to believe that Steam should be fully open, so again I am not trying to use this as part of an argument or anything. I think it is just a really important issue.)

    http://mollyrocket.com/casey/stream_0004.html

  25. BentoSmile

     /  October 9, 2012

    I wasn’t going to say anything, as I likely don’t have anything interesting to add on the Greenlight thing.

    Firstly, I don’t mind being name-dropped by Jonas. If only ‘cos then I can be prompted to explain my situation on the whole thing. :D

    Theoretically, even though I am poor, I can afford Greenlight (although not at the moment, obviously. And it depends on other things like bills or the dog getting sick. But if everything goes well for a little while, I can find the money.) The problem is that I have to consider it carefully, so the value of what I get for that $100 becomes more important. So even though I can afford it at times, I understand why others can’t or would be loathe to put so much money into getting a chance at a chance.

    If there were no fee, I would be more likely to put a game I believed in on Greenlight before I put it on sale. Although granted, it’s probably easier the other way around anyway!

    So yeah, it was kinda shocking to see the lack of empathy from some people. Even though I could probably afford the fee myself during good times, I found some comments flying around quite patronising. :(

    I dunno…

  26. “One additional thing that I haven’t mentioned is that a lot of this still strikes me as a debate about a largely hypothetical problem. Do we know anyone who has a game that is reasonable (i.e. not one of the junk entries that flooded Greenlight initially) and who put reasonable effort into getting $100 to submit the game to Greenlight, but wasn’t able to?”

    Perhaps I can speak to this, perhaps not.

    My game, “The Floor is Jelly” is real. I don’t consider it finished enough to put on Greenlight yet, but once it is I don’t know if I will or not. Money is certainly part of the issue, I’m poor enough for the fee to be significant.

    There are ways to raise money, of course. I could sell the game outside Steam and hope it does well enough so that I have $100 to spare, I could solicit funding from fans of the game, I’m even fortunate enough to be in a position where I could ask for the money from friends and family. I most likely won’t, though, and here’s why.

    If it were as simple as paying $100 to get my game on Steam, it would be an easy decision. But that’s not the reality of it. It’s $100 for the opportunity to be judged by the Steam community. In an ideal world, all serious indie projects would be approved, but the last batch of greenlit games was not encouraging. There are so many great games just sitting around on greenlight being largely ignored. To name a few projects I think are promising, but which I don’t forsee the Steam community ever letting in: Sokobond, POP: Methodology Experiment One, Fract OST, TSWCE, qrth-phyl, The Real Texas, BasketBelle, Death Ray Manta, Incredipede, Dino Run SE, Cardinal Quest II, Kario, Waiting For Horus… the list goes on. I could be wrong, I hope I am. I’ll be very excited if any of these go through.

    So, can someone in my financial situation afford (in purely financial terms) to submit to greenlight? I most likely could if I scraped together the cash, but I can guarantee you my money will be better spent elsewhere. It’s not merely a question of greenlight or nothing. It’s $100 for greenlight or IGF or travelling to GDC or to Indiecade or any number of other things. $100 is a significant amount of money for me to throw away on such a gamble. I doubt very seriously that The Floor is Jelly would pass greenlight.

    It’s not merely a question of ability to pay, it’s a question of whether my limited funding will be best invested into greenlight. $100 is money I can’t afford to lose, and at this moment greenlight is a losing gamble.

    That’s my situation, maybe it’s not exactly relevant, but it is at least not purely hypothetical.

  27. Dude, The Floor is Jelly looks totally crazy. I would happily pitch in money for that.

  28. I think this point that it’s not whether the $100 can be, in theory, raised is not to be underestimated, Jonathan.

    Let’s say I’m someone who makes a decent living from my indie games that are successful. I could drop in $100 and hardly even notice. But if I’m not so successful, and I’m trying to scrape by a living but think I have a game that really has a shot then $100 is not a trivial amount. I’d have to really think about whether it was worth it, and if I couldn’t pay for it myself I’d have to rely on friends or donors, do a small campaign to raise the money…

    … that’s already too much disparity even if I could, in theory, do it. I would have to work that much harder just to get into the race, and for reasons that have nothing to do with what ought to matter. It might be argued that determined indies shouldn’t be afraid of a little hard work to find their way, but why should someone’s ability/determination to come up with $100 say anything about whether their game is worthy of being in the race? Why is that the barrier?

    As someone else pointed out earlier, too, it’s a worry that Greenlight would miss so many types of games that could find a good audience once on the service. Sokobond is an excellent example. Great puzzle game, I could easily imagine something like it on Steam at the right price, and I feel like it’d do well in sales, but I don’t feel like it has a great chance in front of a Greenlight audience.

    It’s not Valve’s responsibility to make sure it gets on Steam, but at the moment I don’t feel like it (or some comparable example) even COULD get on Steam. That worries me.

  29. uriele

     /  October 22, 2012

    There are a few thinks that are not taken in account (and yes, part of the issue is Steam, not only the classism and the different economic situations):

    1) A game needs to have great animations, an original graphic, and a great gameplay video to stand a chance on Greenlight. It needs to be technically, not narratively excellent. Why? Because the average steam-used will value it on that parameters (if you have 1000 games, you couldn’t possible try all of them… you will probably discard them based on how they look). Thus, games like Dust, Braid, Iconoclast, Owl Boy, have more chance than a game like TSWCE or the games of Amon26. (and I’m not saying that this is fair or anything)

    2) A game who doesn’t have all these characteristics could also get into Steam through an internal selection, without the $100 fee (is it easy? Of course not)

    3) A game that appears on Greenlight and it’s already sold on the developer’s homepage will get more visibility (all those people who are not reading indiegame, tigsource, that are not digging in the indie scene, but are Steam Users)

    4) Is it your (as in you all, not as in you Jonas) game the kind of game that would do well on Steam, anyway? Look at the games that have been selected until now, and the top selling indie (and not) games. What do they have in common? They are usually Strategy, Action or Simulation games; Sandbox(Towns, Kenshi, Gnomoria,Project Zomboid); moddable (FTL, Skyrim); multiplayer, free to play and with a leaderboard (the social part of games); and/or with a nice physics engine (Octodad). And even a game like Walking Dead, the first graphic adventure in the top seller, is the kind of game where the gamer is an active actor in a nonlinear experience (every player will create his own unique experience through a series of choices that are different and meaningful in the economy of the story). Games like Botanicula, Sokobond, Machinarium, and the Dream Machine are beautiful, and I personally supported all of them, but they aren’t the kind of games that the steam community would choice: they have a better chance going through the internal selection process.
    So, are all of you sure that Steam is the right market for your games?

  30. Pat Ashe

     /  October 22, 2012

    @uriele

    Just to say that the internal route for applying to get on Steam is no longer available unless you already have a game on Steam so for many developers it’s greenlight or nothing. Also to say games from other genres outside the current top sellers haven’t got a hope is ridiculous. The resurgence in rougelikes & rougelikelikes is completely unexpected and I doubt was predicted by a lot of gamers & gamesmakers. You can never tell what will be the next big thing and it is pointless to say non-sandbox games don’t stand a chance because sandbox games are in vogue at the moment. Something from leftfield could easily catch the greenlight crowd’s eye if it is given the chance but many leftfield gamemakers are now forced out by this fee which favors safe bets in an attempt to woo the greenlight crowd by playing to popular tropes like sandboxes or shooting aliens in the face repeatedly.

  31. I think the other thing uriele misses is a lot of games used to find a much larger audience after getting on Steam.

    I don’t have the stats for it, but I imagine that Steam was a good move for, say, Spacechem, but it possibly might have struggled to get noticed on Greenlight because it’s not the sort of game that lends itself to an easy pitch.

    Maybe you disagree with that assessment, but there are certainly examples of games that rose to greater prominence by being on Steam. It might not be ideal, but we are in a place right now where getting on Steam really can change a game’s fortunes, so it’s very hard to tell in advance what games are right for Steam and a backwards move to presume that we do in advance.

  32. The QI Elves just posted this on Twitter and I thought it was appropriate:

    Darwin’s editor worried The Origin of Species was too obscure. He suggested a book about pigeons, as ‘everybody is interested in pigeons’