Good Old Games & Dominique Pamplemousse

As the producer for Dominique Pamplemousse (or ‘Professional Extrovert’ as Squinky calls me), I have to get the game in front of as many people as possible. With the IGF Grand Prize & other nominations, there’s a lot of opportunities presented to the game and it’s my roll to capture them. Course, we’re limited by budget (there is none) and time (I have little of).

Our sales are particularly high in Europe and Russia. Shocking as the game is English only and no advertising to speak of. Steam is a good partner and everyone at Humble is wonderful! I figured adding Good Old Games would compliment the Eurozone in coverage. The only contact I had was a Submit Your Game link. I gave a little bit of info in the form, and named drop our festival destinations along with the fact the game is already released.

I wasn’t expecting this kind of response: Continue reading Good Old Games & Dominique Pamplemousse

Steam WebAPI Proposal

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Steam Condenser project. It’s library to make sense of the Steam Community, Source, GoldSrc and Steam master servers information for PHP, Java, and Ruby. They’re still using the deprecated XML data which Valve replaced with the Steam WebAPI. I’m starting to work on converting the PHP library to WebAPI, when I discovered the community data was stuck in XML and no replacement.
Steam WebAPI Proposal

So I made a public proposal to the Steam WebAPI.

I wanted a public demonstration of my API development work. I’ve done a lot of this stuff before, but it’s all private and can’t be shared. While this is just a proposal and lacks the consulting with Valve employees, it does demonstrate my skill under the limited circumstances. Course, I wouldn’t mind working with Valve on this. Or working at Valve on this. 😀

I also found there’s no good way to get game information — including pricing and other data. There’s gameplay stats and the news feed, but there’s no way of getting the kind of data you’d get at a store page. That’s my next step!

Steam: Big Picture

While it’s been talked about for a while, Steam finally announced “Big Picture” mode for Steam. The into video was weirdly different from Valve’s usual product announcements.

Instead of the more narrative based product announcements like the TF2 “Meet the…” series, it’s purely product presentation. Almost has a vibe similar to a Google product video.

The video isn’t bad. The thing that stands out for me is the human voice-over that represents the Steam and Valve, rather than a character in a game. Prior, the identity of Steam consisted mascots rolled out for the community pages and seasonal sales. Now there’s a voiceover and presentational framing of product without voiceless cartoon characters.

Combine this and the expansion to non-entertainment apps on Steam, it looks like our little Steam is growing up!

Steam Greenlight

While I was out at PAX and Seattle, Valve released the new Steam Greenlight initiative.

The problem Greenlight is trying to solve is approving titles for sale on Steam. Previously (and currently), titles would have to be manually vetted and approved by Valve in order to be distributed on Steam. This is OK for more established outfits, but there’s an increasing volume of titles that aren’t represented by established publishers/developers, flooding the system. Some titles were rejected even when released on console platforms.

Greenlight gives a different avenue for vetting title submissions. A developer/publisher posts information about a title they want to release on Steam. If enough unique registered users of Steam vote up the title, Valve will release the game on Steam. This allows Valve to process more submissions with smaller effort on their part. Ultimately reducing the risk of a title slipping though the cracks.

At release, the barrier of submission was simply to fill out the submission with a valid Steam account. This created a flood of fake, copied, or obscene submissions. As an attempt to create enough of a hurdle for submissions, Valve now requires a $100 submission fee for enabling an account to submit. To be clear, it’s a fee for any number of submissions from one account and not reoccurring. This fee will go directly to Child’s Play (which I also have a connection with via Ümloud!). For the sake of this discussion, how the money is used is irrelevant.

Ben Kuchera of The PA Report wrote an editorial about the $100 fee as exclusionary and wrong. It’s the value amount that he expressed his concerns:

If the fee were lowered to $10, the effect of weeding out the trolls would continue, and the amount of people that could participate in the process would be exponentially widened. It’s still a long shot, and you still have to muster community support and have a good game. In fact someone emailed me to suggest a mandatory playable demo would do much to help remove the trolls, share more information about games, and remove the financial barrier. Even if they could raise the $100 fee, it would be better spent on rent or equipment.

The $100 price point is pretty common across other gaming platforms, but Steam is actually cheaper in the long run. Apple requires a $99/year fee for iOS, another $99/year for Mac Store. Xbox ‘Creators Club’ charges $99/year. Steam is $100 period. As far as platforms to sell games on, Steam pretty accessible and inexpensive. The real trick is the cut you get per sale, which I don’t have all the numbers available on Steam. Though it’s hard to argue with a one-time fee vs. an annual fee. Can this fee be lower? Sure. I would also think that Valve used the metics from banning players of multiplayer games and recreating accounts.

The question posed to users is “Would you buy this game if it were available in Steam?” The “Yes” button figuratively would be a buy button. Greenlight is not Kickstarter and no money is transfered. A developer would do better to present later in their schedule to have screenshots and the important video for the submission. Greenlight is geared towards the later end of a production schedule. After you figured out a budget, even if that budget consists of an game engine licensee.

A developer using Greenlight developer is asking to sell a product, regardless of your background. With all due respect, this isn’t Newgrounds.com. Submitting to Greenlight is during your work into a commercial product. Of all the venues out there, Steam Greenlight is the least expensive storefront to place commercial games. The $100 may have been a quick fix for the over-flooding problem — and I hope it’s continued to be re-evaluated as time goes on. What I can say is that Steam Greenlight is lowest bar of entry for commercial game stores. And that makes me happy for the state of independent development.