To be honest, I should have done this ages ago but there’s always that niggling feeling that whilst you’re in there, observing what’s going on, you get a better idea of how it works. And that’s true. From being on Greenlight and from watching other folks experience with Greenlight, I did get a better idea of how Greenlight works and where it works. But Greenlight was increasingly becoming something I saw as a thorn in my side, niggling away at me for many reasons that I’ve already documented.
But, first things first, a few small points.
This was the catalyst for me removing DRM from Greenlight but not the reason. The thing is, what’s spoken about in the article is one of those situations which Greenlight brings about and I don’t think Valve are in the wrong here. If anything, Valve are acting to protect more developers by discouraging predatory publishers (I’m not saying anyone involved in this particular case are predatory but that the judgement as a whole is to discourage predatory stuff) from going around picking off developers and offering them less developer friendly or simply just less favourable terms than they would get by self publishing on Steam when/if the time comes to shift through Greenlight.
That the system exists to allow this sort of thing to happen is where things are massively fucked up. And the reason it’s fucked up is that unless you know there is a single clear advantage to going through Greenlight (ie – you can motivate a large amount of fans in a short space of time to punt you through or you have a dynamite zeitgeisty game concept that’s very PC-centric) then you don’t really want to be bothering with Greenlight, do you? It’s in your way, it’s a sticking point and the more convoluted the process to getting on a store, the more time a developer has to spend dancing a dance when they could be doing something, anything, far better than pissing around dancing for someone who doesn’t really need them to dance. And when you have that sort of system, yes, it does open itself up wide open to people trying to find away to get round it. I mean, we’re talking humanity anyway and we all try and take the path of least resistance wherever possible -anyway-, more so if it benefits us greatly but still…
And that’s why I both understand why Valve would make the choices they have to support Greenlight and developers on it but equally resent that it’s a broken system that creates this sort of problem at a time where we’ve been pretty close to stamping out that sort of behaviour and reliance on publishers from our ecosystem.
But no, I’ve been thinking I should do it for a while now, just pull the game because Greenlight irritates me so much. And what really, really tipped me over was a few days ago when this happened. SONY PRESIDENT TROLLS EVERYONE. That’s my game there, how fucking ace is that? Off the cuff silly bit of publicity that couldn’t be planned, couldn’t be bought but happened because human beings were human beings. And I immediately get a load of people telling me to get over to Greenlight and make something of it.
Thing is, I went out and sat in the park with my kid instead because the thought of going onto Greenlight to try and turn something that for an afternoon was massively hilarious and massively fun first and foremost, something I’d spent my day laughing about, to turn that into something hatefully cynical for tiny gains repulsed me.
That’s not how I work. Which pretty much means that Greenlight is clearly, as is, not for me, right? It’s a thing that makes me unhappy. It makes me unhappy because it’s generally vague and unfair for most people and barely a step above the previous black box process (now with $100 gatekeeper charidy fee) and it makes me unhappy because it sucks the joy out of things. It makes me unhappy because it takes time out of my life when I could be doing something I want to be doing, doing something enjoyable like working on my actual game or something and makes it a miserable chore. It makes me unhappy because I know there are games on that system where the only chance they have is to bypass Greenlight by the magical godfinger of Valve pointing at them because they somehow made the news for something. They’re not likely to make the news for something.
And that’s the main reason I pulled DRM from Greenlight because getting on a storefront, no matter how slim the chances of getting on it may be, shouldn’t be a horrid time consuming life sapping miserable chore. Yet that’s what Greenlight is, so goodbye Greenlight. Maybe I’ll see you again when you’re a bit less rubbish?
And mega thanks to everyone who voted for and supported Death Ray Manta in its time on Greenlight, you were amazing and I appreciate it greatly.
Belated edit! Hello! A few people have asked why I can’t just leave the page there and let it accumulate votes of its own accord. OK, couple of things…
1: Greenlight doesn’t work like that. Since getting a brief bump from the Groupees bundle, the percentage of the way to the top 100 for DRM has gone back down to where it stood before the bundle. The only way leaving something there to accumulate votes without you having to personally work for them is if tomorrow everyone who is on Greenlight stopped working for votes and everyone who isn’t on Greenlight stayed off Greenlight. Realistically, it’s likely that the percentage will continue to drop or hover around where it currently sits and there isn’t more of a chance of it getting on Steam just through sitting things out.
2: It assumes that votes are anything more than one of many ways to get Valve’s attention for your Greenlight project. That’s not the case, you can accumulate votes until the day you die and Valve still don’t have to give you a place on Steam. This is the really, really important thing to know about Greenlight votes and one that Valve repeatedly stress, they are -one datapoint- not -the datapoint-.
3: Whilst obviously I’d like to give everyone who wants to buy the game on Steam the opportunity to do so and will freely admit that would be lovely, this isn’t me pulling my game because it can’t get on Steam. It’s me pulling my game because I believe the system is broken and potentially harmful.
Throwing indie developers into a competition for store space, one where they pay a fee and aren’t guaranteed anything more than the chance for Valve to look at their game and creating a system that bolsters publishers at a time when we’re working towards a healthier self publishing system is not.a.good.thing.
So forget about my game, it’s about a broken system and me not wanting to take part in that any more and wanting a better system, one that works for devs and for Valve. It’s about a system that makes me genuinely unhappy, not just for myself but having seen how it effects my peers also. It isn’t, in any sense of anything, me taking my ball home because I can’t get on Steam with DRM, it isn’t because people might not want to buy DRM (I’ve been around the block a few times, I know my audience), it’s because Greenlight itself is rubbish. I know this is the internet and people find this sort of attitude hard to believe but as anyone who’s lurked around these parts, met me in person or attended one of my talks will know, my interests lie more in having things be better for the people who make games.
And that’s why I can’t just leave the page there. Because it props up a system that’s not very healthy for most developers.
Taking DRM down might well be a piss in the wind whilst everyone else flocks to Greenlight but I can only do so much and to a large degree whatever will be will be etc…