Right, yeah. So there’s a thing that happened. Yesterday evening, GameMaker landed on Steam.
I knew this was coming a few hours in advance as I’d been browsing through the CDR and stumbled across a few new app entries, GameMaker being amongst them. Given the information the CDR throws out there, I just assumed that at some point in the next few weeks we’d see GameMaker Studio hit Steam at cost and well, that’s all I thought would happen.
Having an easy game creation tool on Steam was already something that kinda chuffed me (anything that reaches out a bit further is good by me) but I didn’t quite bargain on what would happen at 6 o’clock when it released.
I don’t think it’s really any great secret that for a number of years I spent far too long feeling like I couldn’t recommend GameMaker anymore. For what still feels like far too long, GM languished underloved with promises of better things but with those better things not emerging and that saddened me.
For a while it seemed like YoYoGames lurched from one awkward decision to another and that there wouldn’t really be a happy ending to the GameMaker story. I was also, admittedly, one of the most vocal critics of their handling of GameMaker during this time and probably got in one too many a fight over its future along the way.
It’s probably also no great secret that I’ve just released a game written in GameMaker that garnered some pretty lovely reviews. So what changed?
Well, lots did. GameMaker started getting some active development with some good and trustworthy hands, Team YoYo grew in strength, GameMaker:HTML5 emerged clearly aimed at studios first and foremost and this set the ball in motion for what was to become GM:Studio. Something I’ve been near begging for during the wilderness years. A version of GameMaker that could export to different formats and stores at a premium, with the money from that trickling into making GameMaker a better thing as a whole.
GM:Studio now is easily, far and away, the strongest GameMaker has ever been. With the run of updates it receives and with the glut of new features, it won’t be long before it’s pretty much the most sensible route for anyone wanting to make 2d games. Look, just give me the shaders and we’ll call it quits, y’know? And this is brilliant. Recent price revisions introduced a more sensible free version (it’s limited but for learning and for small games, it’s fine) and more sensible tiering in general. Brilliant. I’m going to say brilliant a lot here, get used to it.
Where we we? Oh yeah, that’s right. It launched on Steam last night. Which is cool. It also launched with the free version on Steam not just the for sale versions and because of the way Steam works, that means that every single person with a validated Steam account now has a game creation tool sitting in their library. That’s roughly alotofmillionpeople at last count now with easy access to GameMaker. That’s good! That’s super super good and if just a tiny percentage of people pick it up, that’s even better. That alone would be super great.
What I really didn’t expect to see was it to launch with Workshop support also.
Now, yes, you need the “standard” version to access uploading to the Workshop which costs £26 or thereabouts but still, let’s just pause and think about this. Steam Workshop, for those who don’t know, is a place where user generated content goes to live. It’s a place where Skyrim mods are hosted on Steam, where Team Fortress 2, Garry’s Mod stuff, Civ V mods and Dota 2 mods find a home on Steam. And now there’s a place for GameMaker games also.
At around 6 o’clock last night, every single person with a Steam account found themselves in possession of a tool that allows them to make games. And from 6 o’clock last night
, for the fee of £26 to upgrade to a version where folks can make 2d games free of restrictions and punt those games out to PC and Mac outside of Steam and make money on those games if they choose, they also got a space on Steam to upload and show off their games. At 6 o’clock last night, freeware found a home on Steam.
That’s pretty fucking brilliant and I’m excited to see what happens next. I’m excited because there will be loads more people making games and sure, a lot of these games I won’t want to play but there’ll be games there that I will. Or maybe someone else will. Or maybe someone’s mum/dad/sister/friend at school will want to. And maybe these are from people who wouldn’t have considered making these things were it not for this tool being placed in front of them and maybe they wouldn’t find it so easy to share their content with the world without the Workshop being there for them, right?
We’ve still got a long way to go and a lot more people to reach (and a massively wider selection of people we *need* to reach at that) but for now, I’m going to celebrate a bold and strong move from Valve and YoYoGames to further access to game creation and to promote easier game creation at that. And kudos to them for understanding that one of the most important things you can do is to help people share their creations too.
Your move, rest of the industry.
[update: I'm informed that no, you don't need the £26 GameMaker Standard to use the Workshop, you can do so using the free version. Well, that's a thing, right?]