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Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam

Rock, Paper, Shotgun notes an interesting segment in the Gabe Newell video interview mentioned earlier today. About 44 minutes in Gabe discusses the way Valve acts as a bottleneck in the process of getting games published on the service, and he envisions a future where anyone can self publish on Steam: "OK if we are thinking about this correctly, it really should be sort of a network API.," he explains. "There should be this publishing model – and yes you have to worry about viruses and malware and stuff like that – but essentially anybody should be able to publish anything through Steam."

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16. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 16:21 NewMaxx
 
killer_roach wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 14:22:
With Greenlight the community has no skin in the game. That's the fundamental difference right there. (I'd argue that quality would be improved if you were required to pay per vote on Greenlight, with the money used able to be credited toward Greenlit games, but that might be a bridge too far for people.)

It seems like Gabe wants to change that (your first point). He talks about an entirely new type of ecosystem that is based around the user and the community such that valuation is universal and that creativity is not limited by any fundamental means. Honestly, I think that's a challenge that's even beyond Valve's abilities, unless you're talking about purely open source projects, or at least ones with creative licenses.

Trying to get EA on board with that would be pretty much impossible unless you can offer them a more traditional revenue stream, and that's very unlikely given their move with Origin. Yet he also wants to butt heads with consoles, specifically because he feels they are weak and that the base could be conquered by closed source (Apple) in the mid-term, which isn't far-fetched. He sees SHIELD, Ouya, Steam Box, etc., as the open source alternatives, which ultimately would tie back into his imagined ecosystem.

It's visionary but it's also a bit out of his area of expertise. In fact, it's out of anybody's area of expertise as it's treading on new territory. However I do believe it will eventually come to pass out of necessity (as a foil to Apple's ecosystem) and Valve is in a unique position to exploit that - if it can leverage its current user base while also attracting appropriate partners (specifically, NVIDIA, and those that develop engines like Unity).

As for your point on paying for Greenlight, I was more thinking that the "pay per vote" cash would go towards the actual product you voted for at a reduced (from full/launched retail) price. That's how Kickstarter generally works, it's a model similar to what Minecraft used, as another example. If you're thinking that sounds a lot like Desura, well...yeah. That's the idea. Seeing as from his interview what he describes is basically a Minecraftesque ecosystem of micro-developers, that would probably fit in well with his API idea, and further be extended to the psuedo-console (DLC + PC streaming) market.

This comment was edited on Feb 2, 2013, 16:31.
 
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15. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 14:22 killer_roach
 
NewMaxx wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 13:40:
killer_roach wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 12:06:
I think the lesson learned from Greenlight is that the community are a bunch of idiots, and they're becoming a rather arbitrary way to determine what gets on the service and what doesn't (note that, while some Greenlit games end up near the top of the sales charts, others, once released, are greeted with a commercial thud).

This is true, which is why it should be contrasted with kickstarters. With the latter you have projects in various (but often early) stages of production, asking for money upfront or simply in supposed good faith. Nevertheless, each has its own individual value it has to hit to get funded. Greenlight, on the other hand, is every man for itself with simple popularity fueling the winners in a system of ranking. While arguable the community is a "bunch of idiots" in both cases, it's in a different way, so perhaps the solution is something in-between. Keep in mind also that systems evolve so the near-anarchy we see in early stages of development will be tempered by informal standards over time.

With Greenlight the community has no skin in the game. That's the fundamental difference right there. (I'd argue that quality would be improved if you were required to pay per vote on Greenlight, with the money used able to be credited toward Greenlit games, but that might be a bridge too far for people.)
 
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14. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 13:40 NewMaxx
 
killer_roach wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 12:06:
I think the lesson learned from Greenlight is that the community are a bunch of idiots, and they're becoming a rather arbitrary way to determine what gets on the service and what doesn't (note that, while some Greenlit games end up near the top of the sales charts, others, once released, are greeted with a commercial thud).

This is true, which is why it should be contrasted with kickstarters. With the latter you have projects in various (but often early) stages of production, asking for money upfront or simply in supposed good faith. Nevertheless, each has its own individual value it has to hit to get funded. Greenlight, on the other hand, is every man for itself with simple popularity fueling the winners in a system of ranking. While arguable the community is a "bunch of idiots" in both cases, it's in a different way, so perhaps the solution is something in-between. Keep in mind also that systems evolve so the near-anarchy we see in early stages of development will be tempered by informal standards over time.
 
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13. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 12:06 killer_roach
 
Krizzen wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 11:28:
"and yes you have to worry about viruses and malware and stuff like that"

I thought that was the whole point of Greenlight, to put the "burden of proof" on the community. Atleast a little exclusivity never hurts.

I think the lesson learned from Greenlight is that the community are a bunch of idiots, and they're becoming a rather arbitrary way to determine what gets on the service and what doesn't (note that, while some Greenlit games end up near the top of the sales charts, others, once released, are greeted with a commercial thud).
 
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12. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 11:28 Krizzen
 
"and yes you have to worry about viruses and malware and stuff like that"

I thought that was the whole point of Greenlight, to put the "burden of proof" on the community. Atleast a little exclusivity never hurts.
 
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11. Re: Out of the Blue Feb 2, 2013, 09:08 NewMaxx
 
Sepharo wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 03:56:
I'm one of the bigger Valve fans here. It just seems like they're interested in removing themselves from the process... But at that point what's Valve's part; do they still deserve a cut?

I'd suggest paying attention to where he talks about commissions and the role of managing virtual economies to get an idea of his vision. He even talks about goods being transferred across games, and even across developers. He went to great lengths to say he wants all his people to be Renaissance style - knowledgeable about all aspects - but then he admits to needing an economist to understand TF2 hat metrics. It's clear that this is becoming a stronger focus as time goes on.

He also talks about integrative profit, which in the software world is nearly infinite, and how upfront costs in many ways (he uses the examples of IBM and other companies) can overshadow profit. Furthermore he talks about how removing, then re-adding the riot shield in CS had a paradoxical effect. This suggests that his real challenge moving forward is in the latter world, not the former.

I really think he lays out pretty well what Valve's role will be, he just doesn't say it outright. He's used to talking in manager-speak so you have to orient yourself to what he's really saying, which unfortunately does require some knowledge about economics and business. Focus on his examples/analogies: he uses those to relate his ideas and goals. I do think our external information helps outline this better, too (Steam Box, Big Picture, etc).
 
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10. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 08:55 NewMaxx
 
For those curious, the book he mentions as his "bible" is Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. I look forward to reading it to round out my business administration background! Because, ultimately, that is what Gabe is - a business administrator, and it's important to keep that in mind.

His speech is littered with various ways of saying "maximize productivity." It's just that his approach is different than the path of least resistance that the vast majority of companies use today, and it's obvious he gained this mindset from working in Microsoft plus reading books like that. Any analysis of his words and plans need to be couched in those terms, because his personal creative edge and passion is in management and services.
 
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9. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 07:03 Sepharo
 
jacobvandy wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 05:19:
Are you serious? How would Valve not still deserve a cut for growing a brand and a user base of tens of millions of people around the world who use it daily? Plus you're asking them to develop an API for this and beyond that, somebody would still have to own and operate the infrastructure, which ain't easy or free...

I'm just running with the idea I'm not asking them to do anything and of course they deserve a cut for Steam. Try rereading.

Infrastructure could be maintained by open source development.

jacobvandy wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 05:19:
There's no such thing as free distribution. And anything close to it will be 95% full of spam, scams, and other crap, so I have no clue why anybody would ever want such a "service."

Torrents are free digital distribution past the initial negligible few seeds. Immediately upon release the higher the demand for the game the better the download rates. You would have to maintain a certain seed ratio and it could sip bytes from your currently installed games library that other people want to get. And about the "service" part, that's my fault for using technical jargon, I meant a service in the software/code sense. So say if the dev didn't want to use torrents they could just connect right to their servers and they'd use their bandwidth or Amazons, etc.

jacobvandy wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 05:19:
There will still have to be some quality control. Hell, people are clamoring for more QC than they have now, or even before they started doing Greenlight. The most they could possibly get away with is a separate store, so the average user doesn't have to be bothered by heaps of unfinished and ill-conceived garbage when they're looking for Elder Scrolls, GTA, and Call of Duty.

Quality control in terms of custom satisfaction would rest solely on the shoulders of those selling. They are ultimately responsible for the payment and distribution processes. And quality control in terms of what the customer is presented or advertised to could be through a genre/tagging/favorites/voting/publisher-packs whatever.

See now how I'm not necessarily talking about Valve here and I'm just running (rambling) with the idea of a network API for self publishing? I know Gabe's kind of crazy but I don't think he's crazy enough to give up the core of what Steam does for free/open source. But he is apparently interested in creating an API that allows anyone to put their game up on Steam.

This comment was edited on Feb 2, 2013, 07:32.
 
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8. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 05:19 jacobvandy
 
Are you serious? How would Valve not still deserve a cut for growing a brand and a user base of tens of millions of people around the world who use it daily? Plus you're asking them to develop an API for this and beyond that, somebody would still have to own and operate the infrastructure, which ain't easy or free...

There's no such thing as free distribution. And anything close to it will be 95% full of spam, scams, and other crap, so I have no clue why anybody would ever want such a "service." There will still have to be some quality control. Hell, people are clamoring for more QC than they have now, or even before they started doing Greenlight. The most they could possibly get away with is a separate store, so the average user doesn't have to be bothered by heaps of unfinished and ill-conceived garbage when they're looking for Elder Scrolls, GTA, and Call of Duty.
 
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7. Re: Out of the Blue Feb 2, 2013, 03:56 Sepharo
 
Rigs wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 21:43:
Unlike Sepharo, I welcome our new steamy, portal-loving publishing overlords and only wish them great victory in the coming war with the traditional publishing tyrants... ;P

I'm one of the bigger Valve fans here. It just seems like they're interested in removing themselves from the process... Like it wouldn't be too far off to do an open source digital market API where 3rd party payment and distribution services could interop. But at that point what's Valve's part; do they still deserve a cut? Even cross-dev sale coordination could be part of the API. Games could make it to the "front page" by simply being popular (page hits and/or sell rate).
 
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6. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 00:47 netnerd85
 
Cutter wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 23:48:
killer_roach wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 22:29:
Sepharo wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 21:28:
Use torrents to distribute it and 3rd party payment portals and you don't even need Valve right? Open source digital market.

Except for product visibility. Steam draws eyeballs, and the more people looking over your game the better.

Except when it's oversaturated and you can't see the trees for the forrest.
Exactly.

jimnms wrote on Feb 2, 2013, 00:42:
Desura anyone? It has a client/store/game launcher/auto patch deal like Steam, but unlike Steam the games bought from Desura can be run without the client. They even offer DRM free downloads, so you don't even need to run the Desura software.
I've recently started buying games from there.

When searching for a game to buy I check out all the big digital stores, look at price and DRM status.
 
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5. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 2, 2013, 00:42 jimnms
 
Desura anyone? It has a client/store/game launcher/auto patch deal like Steam, but unlike Steam the games bought from Desura can be run without the client. They even offer DRM free downloads, so you don't even need to run the Desura software.  
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MeanJim on Steam
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4. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 1, 2013, 23:48 Cutter
 
killer_roach wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 22:29:
Sepharo wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 21:28:
Use torrents to distribute it and 3rd party payment portals and you don't even need Valve right? Open source digital market.

Except for product visibility. Steam draws eyeballs, and the more people looking over your game the better.

Except when it's oversaturated and you can't see the trees for the forrest.
 
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"Bye weeks? Bronko Nagurski didn't get no bye weeks, and now he's dead… Well, maybe they're a good thing." - Moe
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3. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 1, 2013, 22:29 killer_roach
 
Sepharo wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 21:28:
Use torrents to distribute it and 3rd party payment portals and you don't even need Valve right? Open source digital market.

Except for product visibility. Steam draws eyeballs, and the more people looking over your game the better.
 
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2. Re: Out of the Blue Feb 1, 2013, 21:43 Rigs
 
Unlike Sepharo, I welcome our new steamy, portal-loving publishing overlords and only wish them great victory in the coming war with the traditional publishing tyrants...


=-Rigs-=
 
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'We talked about peace! You didn't want peace. We talked about cooperation! You didn't WANT cooperation. You WANT war! Is that it? You want a war? Well, you've GOT a war!'
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1. Re: Newell on Self-Publishing on Steam Feb 1, 2013, 21:28 Sepharo
 
Use torrents to distribute it and 3rd party payment portals and you don't even need Valve right? Open source digital market.  
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