Admit it, you all saw it coming right?
Steam has been heading down this path for a long time, and as the monopoly force behind digital distribution for PC games it has just sat and done nothing.
So what has happened? Well FDG Entertainment revealed that yes, Blossom Tales on Nintendo Switch in only three months, outsold its Steam release by 20 to 1. This has allowed the developer to stay in business.
A game styled like Zelda on PC has every opportunity to explode into a critical and commercial success on Steam. Low barrier to entry, great game, great basis, all a recipe for success. Alas, Steam failed.
#NintendoSwitch community is a blessing! #BlossomTales is now a turnaround story: Humble indie dev @castlepixel can stay in business and continue making games. Love y'all! 3 months #Switch revenues surpass #Steam lifetime revenues 20 times! pic.twitter.com/GxO88Zor12
— FDG Entertainment (@FDG_Games) March 16, 2018
It failed to deliver on what should have been a smash hit. It was buried under the waves of hundreds of weekly games and tech demos poured onto Steam in a market with no curation whatsoever. But that one move over to a console gave it all the light it needed.
It cannot be understated, it kept a company in business by moving away from what IS and SHOULD BE a huge market.
But it isn’t, at least not anymore, and its unlikely to ever be again.
Steam has long been the bastion of indie games, propelling lesser known studios to stardom to then propel their own games with their own marketing bucks to an even wider audience, rather than risking being a drop in the bucket trying to make a wave by luck.
Of course now, you are almost guaranteed to be a mere drop in the bucket. Steam doesn’t care. It got its fee – the users likely can’t find you, curators can’t curate, the market is over saturated.
The recent Nindies Showcase, while showcasing 14 games, was met with a lot of “Is that new”? Turns out a lot of the games are coming FROM Steam, where people didn’t even know they existed!
Back with Steam Greenlight, a mess though it was, games were announced to be coming to Steam via the program. It was a big deal. Now with Direct, the entry fees haven’t changed – the curation has demonstrably gotten worse – and the games just sort of…appear.
That’s all that happens. Games just…show up. No fanfare. Valve got your money now go try to sell yourself amid the wave of new games coming tomorrow.
A better way to word it, is imagine trying to sell your game, but your only chance at making enough money to break even is to basically be the Wii. A flash of lightning in a bottle. That system got huge success due to the right ideas to the right people at the right time.
On Steam, you need to be lightning in a bottle, and it needs to be immediate, or the wave of sewage will come and douse you.
Oh, and Steam also has THIS issue:
— FDG Entertainment (@FDG_Games) March 20, 2018
So that is where we are now. Games are finding more success on curated store fronts, where the console makers, Sony withstanding it seems, are more than happy to push indie games. They know these small developers will one day be the big shots. It’s a shame Valve has left itself become complacent.
As for the PC side, I can’t see things changing. Valve is in a position to not be challenged in distribution, so unless a platform for indies appears and explodes, you’ll have to be lightning in a bottle. Every day on Steam that window gets smaller and smaller though.
Thanks for reading and sorry for the huge delay and absence! Things will begin to pick up slowly! Let us know what you think of these revelations (It was obvious really) and see you all next time! Happy Gaming!