Indie Dev Threatens to Kill Gabe Newell, Valve Pulls His Game From Steam

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RetroMenace:
While the guy was a huge arse and shouldn't have overreacted, Valve did something that would have immensely hurt the sales of the game (had they not straight out removed it), which is a TERRIBLE thing for indie devs. There really seems like there needs to be more communication between Valve and people who provide products for them to sell.

Also this isn't the first issue they had with Valve, this happened after literally months of bullshit with them.

J Tyran:

For years Steam was the gatekeeper of what game would be successful or not, for hundreds of them no Steam launch = no success.

This doesn't really matter though, Steam is/was a monopoly but regardless death threats are not the way to deal with frustration.

How is Steam a Monopoly? Being the best or at least most preferred and most popular doesn't make you a monopoly good sir/madam. IT simply means you are very good at what you do. Good enough that you have adequately balanced the needs of both your customer groups to the point where both feel comfortable doing business with you.

I mean there's always GoG though devs don't quite feel as comfortable with their practices hence the fact that they've lost more than a couple publisher catalogs and haven't quite managed to lock in as many as steam.

But as for this guy... I think the word TWAT is an apt word.

It goes to show why many indies fail... aside from over reaching they also tend to be very poor in dealing with other people... at least the bad ones are. I mean I usually make a point of congratulating any and every Early Access Game that comes to full release but nope.... sorry.

Thing is... even his statements show how much of a twat he is. It's not too late to rebuild bridges. A bit of humble pie goes a long way and an apology makes for great cement.

J Tyran:
-snip-

Please, for the love of God, were not where. Where is location, were is state.
I mean this as helpfully as I can, it's kind of important to get your point across

OT: Not part of the story, but any word on whether he actually reached out to Valve FIRST? This seems like a "Banner needs updating doods, here I attached one for you" kind of problem.

At least everyone involved is a guy so we can't possibly get into GamerGate ter-

... Ahhhh for fuck's sake...

Holy shit...what a colossal moron. To think I supported this guy because of how hard he had it getting PA through greenlight.
Also #REKT is very much appropriate.

Jeez, I can understand his temper boiling over after being screwed like that, but threatening to kill someone is one of the FEW things which could actually get him kicked out of Steam. Seriously, he couldn't just go with a few F-bombs and calling Gabe an a-hole?

BigTuk:

J Tyran:

For years Steam was the gatekeeper of what game would be successful or not, for hundreds of them no Steam launch = no success.

This doesn't really matter though, Steam is/was a monopoly but regardless death threats are not the way to deal with frustration.

How is Steam a Monopoly? Being the best or at least most preferred and most popular doesn't make you a monopoly good sir/madam. IT simply means you are very good at what you do. Good enough that you have adequately balanced the needs of both your customer groups to the point where both feel comfortable doing business with you.

The issues related to the fact that without backing from Valve releasing a game on the PC was often economically unviable, most of them had to get onto Steam or fail. GoG wasn't that popular and only released old games back then, Ubisoft and EA obviously didn't want to know and trying to promote your game from your own website or other hardly known portal was almost impossible.

But the process of getting onto Steam was lengthy, difficult and obscure. Indies would hear nothing for months and get no feedback before a curt refusal, getting in touch with someone and trying to discuss it was out of the question a lot of the time. There was no transparency and no feedback, no policies or standards indies could follow to stand a greater chance of acceptance.

It was almost like making a prayer and hoping in a few months it would be answered, Green light did little to fix it and it became more about selling your game to the community and hope to avoid getting buried rather than producing a good product. Getting "celebrity" endorsements from YouTubers to encourage vote bombing was a higher priority than communicating with Valve about what they would allow on their store, then they allowed publishers to add almost anything they wanted with little oversight and many of these small indies are getting seriously shafted because the only viable way to sell their games is via Steam and the only way to get on Steam is to sign away their soul to scalping publishers.

Meanwhile any old garbage is getting thrown onto the store on an hourly basis, maybe Monopoly isn't the right word because Valve don't appear to be acting in an anti trust manner or anything but the environment around them has grown so that they are the Gatekeepers that stand between devs and financial viability and Valve are not doing enough to alleviate the problems this causes. They have bungled it again and again, they are not responsible for the way that the market has evolved but they are responsible for their own conduct.

If they where the responsible custodians of PC gaming people claim they are they would recognise the harm their policies and inaction are causing, instead they let irresponsible and anti consumer publishers list whatever broken and objectively (I do not use that lightly either) awful games they want on their storefront.

As much as I am nuetral towards Steam, it's a total Monopoly.

Hell, nowadays, you cannot even play some video games anymore without a Steam account being mandatory. Many PC games are now just released on Steam, no where else.

J Tyran:
They have been getting the short end of the stick from Valve for a while

A few people have said similar. Is there actually any independent evidence of this, or just the claims of the same guy who thinks death threats are a normal part of business dealings? Because there are an awful lot of people who manage to sell games on Steam just fine, and given what we've seen of Mr Maulbeck's public behaviour, I wouldn't be at all surprised if previous problems in his dealings with Valve were largely of his own making as well.

rofltehcat:
Why seem so many "professionals" in this industry act like 13 year old children? I guess we only ever hear from the ones that can't behave but I doubt any other industry has this many people behaving this unprofessional in public.

Coincidentally, there's an article here that may actually address that question. It's actually about education and gamification of teaching computers, but here's what one of the people involved had to say:

The sole software engineer on the panel, Paul Reeves, had some ripe observations about British programming culture. He blamed the "Baby Beebers" - the products of the micro boom 30 years ago.

"Computing in the 1980s, especially in the UK, was seen as a hobby. Now it's being presented as 'creative' to get people into the subject and into the jobs." He thought the micro boom had created a generation that didn't take its work seriously enough, and lacked the professional rigour of other engineering vocations

Basically, there's a bit of a problem not just with games, but with programming in general. An awful lot of people got into it as a hobby, and still see it as something that is supposed to be fun rather than taking too seriously. You don't see the same thing in most other professions because children rarely spend years playing at being lawyers or whale biologists, but with programming there are quite a few people who think they are still children playing with their toys rather than responsible adults working in an actual job. See all the companies wasting money on "fun" workplaces and trying to emulate the rock star lifestyle, and frequently going bust because of it.

Funny how some people seem to expect the reaction of regular people being threatened to match that of a multi-millionaire with so much clout on the industry no one would dare touch him.

Heck, Gabe Newell had the power to kick this jerk out of videogames (as far as Steam is concerned) and used it. What power do the so called "fem-conspirators" have? Make speeches? Release games? Issue statements? Run a kickstarter?

Funny how no one is bashing Newell and Steam for "stifling free speech", or for taking death threats on the internet too seriously.

My point? To paraphrase Jim Sterling: Harassment is unacceptable. Period. No "howevers".

Oskuro:

Funny how no one is bashing Newell and Steam for "stifling free speech", or for taking death threats on the internet too seriously.

Uhh... pretty sure that Free speech doesn't entitle someone to use a private companies distribution network.

If buddy wants to release his game on his own he is more than welcome to. If he wants to release on Steam, he follows Steam's rules. They are not a publicly run or owned company.

Oskuro:
Funny how some people seem to expect the reaction of regular people being threatened to match that of a multi-millionaire with so much clout on the industry no one would dare touch him.

Heck, Gabe Newell had the power to kick this jerk out of videogames (as far as Steam is concerned) and used it. What power do the so called "fem-conspirators" have? Make speeches? Release games? Issue statements? Run a kickstarter?

Funny how no one is bashing Newell and Steam for "stifling free speech", or for taking death threats on the internet too seriously.

My point? To paraphrase Jim Sterling: Harassment is unacceptable. Period. No "howevers".

No-one's bashing Gaben/Steam for stifling free speech, as that's not what happened. The dev doesn't have a right to have his game sold by Valve. He went on a foul-mouthed tirade in a public space and was shown the door. My guess is there might be a clause in the contract somewhere that says Valve don't have to put up with your shenanigans if you call them a fucking incompetent pile of shit, or say that their boss can DIAF.

Depressed to see that several people have already used this as an opportunity to bash the same old targets, despite a blatant lack of equivalence with this situation.

It gets old.

Well if you don;t want Steam to change to non-early-access "too slowly" then don't bring your game to Steam until it's done. If it doesn't start with an Early access stamp in the first place, you won't "lose money" because of it.

Silvanus:
Depressed to see that several people have already used this as an opportunity to bash the same old targets, despite a blatant lack of equivalence with this situation.

It gets old.

I propose we adopt the moniker 'LiterallyNewall' (or just LiterallyNew) to show that it's not about him personally, rather the situation as a whole.

Yeah, um... formal complaint much? I feel like this could've been resolved in less than 24 hours if he had simply just sent in a note to Valve, and posted on Twitter an explanation of events to explain that the game wasn't really on early access anymore. But no, he had to blow up at them and make stupid empty threats over a relatively simple matter. How do people not realize that this is how you fuck up shit? Sure he's well known now, but nobody's gonna take them seriously anymore. If he had simply publicly spoke about the issue and explained the situation, it would've probably been resolved swiftly with little hassle. Hell, if he's losing money over it, if he explained everything and then asked for donations, there are in fact nice people on the internet who will help compensate for this sort of thing if you build up enough good will.

oldtaku:
Wow. So entitled. He's lucky the only thing they did was pull his game.

And Steam's not a monopoly, you poor stupid entitled manchild. Why don't you ask Mojang about that?

Mojang is an exception, there are always exceptions.

And to use the monopoly analogy Steam has hotels on about 75% of all the properties. That's game over right there.

rofltehcat:
Why seem so many "professionals" in this industry act like 13 year old children? I guess we only ever hear from the ones that can't behave but I doubt any other industry has this many people behaving this unprofessional in public. Especially the last few months with the GG/anti-GG bullshit have been bad.

While I agree he acted unprofessionally I think we're not seeing it from his point of view. This game has had to fight tooth and nails to get on steam and every step has been an uphill battle, he finally gets on and they delay the release because of the weekend, then they falsely advertise it as early access potentially costing lots of day 1 sales. Can't say I blame him for losing the shit.

You've got to remember for an indie who may has bills to pay and whom this stuff up could cost him financially it's not unfair to be angry that their fuck up could now bite you in the ass. For all we know this is going to ruin him, all because Valve has a monopoly over games on PC. Yes I know of gog etc, I try to get games from other places as much as I can but reality is for most people theres only steam and even for gamersgate/GMG etc they often sell steam keys, so in essence it's practically a monopoly.

Lesson 1: Don't make death threats on Twitter
Lesson 2: Don't write anything on Twitter when you're pissed off
Lesson 3: If you're stupid enough to both write and make threats on Twitter when you're pissed off, you probably shouldn't be making games in the first place.

The karma is strong within this one. It's so strong I might even need sunglasses.

I'll just post what I posted in the thread about it in GD.

Yeah, death threats on the internet are pretty damn stupid. Even if meant as a joke, it can be difficult to read the tone at times.

However, I can understand why this guy would be frustrated at Steam. Aside from this incident, I'm pretty sure these were the guys that got fucked over by Valve with something to do with Steam Greenlight.

I can understand why he kinda feels like Steam/Valve is out to get them, even if they're not. Still no excuse for what he did like, but it does mean I have a little bit of sympathy for him.

Kahani:

J Tyran:
They have been getting the short end of the stick from Valve for a while

A few people have said similar. Is there actually any independent evidence of this, or just the claims of the same guy who thinks death threats are a normal part of business dealings? Because there are an awful lot of people who manage to sell games on Steam just fine, and given what we've seen of Mr Maulbeck's public behaviour, I wouldn't be at all surprised if previous problems in his dealings with Valve were largely of his own making as well.

All of the reports of how Valve dealt with indies then where corroborated by other devs (namely you emailed a presentation and waited for months, before getting denied or accepted with no feedback), Total Biscuit reported on the way Greenlight failed them miserably and how even getting a publisher didn't work out well either and he is generally responsible enough to fact check and not simply sensationalise. Its been an ongoing thing for nearly a year, this is the first time the guy has behaved inappropriately like this in public.

I think he simply blew his stack, doesn't make it any better of course but the reports from both of the devs behind Paranautical Activity fit everything else reported about the difficulties of getting your game onto Steam and responsible independent journalists have reported on this over the months.

As a (Hobbyist) game developer (in training), I think some indie devs try use Steam as a short cut to the wallets of Steams userbase, they think they just need to slap together some game on the cheap and *boom* cash in.

If you really want to be a indie dev you need to first establish a fan base, release some smaller titles, join some forums, get up some web presence... all of this was done by Notch by the way, I still remember when he brought in a silly java application that randomly slapped dirt blocks in to look vaguely like some landscape and let players move the blocks about, around to the TIGSource forums way back then, Notch had made a few other titles prior.
Notch didn't just make Minecraft and get rich.

Steam isn't a monopoly, it doesn't prevent you from releasing titles but merely decides on its own merit which titles to allow access to its established userbase, which is ironic as Steam gets a lot of flack for allowing any old rubbish in but gets criticism if it tries block any.
I feel Steam is like a huge shop, just be aware of what you are buying and don't expect Steam to keep you safe from shovelware.

As for me ?
I will make some small titles, some prototypes and experimental games and release them via forums and simple website, build up a small fanbase and grow it from there... BEFORE releasing the game I really wanted to make for a while now :P

Lesson Learned: The internet has turned the world into a bunch of snarky d-bags who think they are the thought police. I swear the only reason twitter exists is to force idiots to apologize for speaking their mind in this day and age...

J Tyran:

BigTuk:

J Tyran:

For years Steam was the gatekeeper of what game would be successful or not, for hundreds of them no Steam launch = no success.

This doesn't really matter though, Steam is/was a monopoly but regardless death threats are not the way to deal with frustration.

How is Steam a Monopoly? Being the best or at least most preferred and most popular doesn't make you a monopoly good sir/madam. IT simply means you are very good at what you do. Good enough that you have adequately balanced the needs of both your customer groups to the point where both feel comfortable doing business with you.

The issues related to the fact that without backing from Valve releasing a game on the PC was often economically unviable, most of them had to get onto Steam or fail. GoG wasn't that popular and only released old games back then, Ubisoft and EA obviously didn't want to know and trying to promote your game from your own website or other hardly known portal was almost impossible.

And have you asked yourself why or how Steam got to that position.? Because they were liked by their customers and by publishers. You could very well release off steam. Minecraft had nothing to do with steam and well look at that... League of Legend's Likewise. Steam is one of the best places of course because it has many users across many markets...and actually do a bit to help with promoting or at the very least they give publishers and devs a suite of tools to help them promote.

It was almost like making a prayer and hoping in a few months it would be answered, Green light did little to fix it and it became more about selling your game to the community and hope to avoid getting buried rather than producing a good product.

Welcome to the world of marketing. That's exactly how things work in a free market. It's your job to not only produce but to give consumers a good reason to invest in what you've produced. Sadly, buildinga better mouse trap is not enough...you have to be able to promote as well.

Getting "celebrity" endorsements from YouTubers to encourage vote bombing was a higher priority than communicating with Valve about what they would allow on their store, then they allowed publishers to add almost anything they wanted with little oversight and many of these small indies are getting seriously shafted because the only viable way to sell their games is via Steam and the only way to get on Steam is to sign away their soul to scalping publishers.

You're basically saying the problems of Indie devs boil down to.. they are unprepared to deal with a competitive free market.

Valve has never set itself up as a Gatekeeper...really.. quite the opposite which is again the heart of what you're saying. devs are ill-prepared to deal with a free, competitive and open market where you not only have to make the game but sell and promote it or partner with someone else (publishers) to sell and promote it which of course costs creative freedom. This is the real world of sales and marketing.

Vslve basically just gives the games store space... crap games will do poorly, Good games will eventually bubble up. Poorly managed or marketed games will fade into obscurity... but obscurity is not non-existence.

Making the game has never been the hard part in the game industry... production and promotion have been the hard part. Thanks to digital.. production is less of an issue but because the number of voices in the bazaar have grown and continue.. well promotion becomes even more important. If devs can't learn the art of promotion.. well it'd be good for them to bring on team members who are...this is business. Many of the games that have done well on steam you may notice also put the time and effort into promotion with their own websites, media blogs etc.

ASnogarD:
Steam isn't a monopoly, it doesn't prevent you from releasing titles but merely decides on its own merit which titles to allow access to its established userbase, which is ironic as Steam gets a lot of flack for allowing any old rubbish in but gets criticism if it tries block any.
I feel Steam is like a huge shop, just be aware of what you are buying and don't expect Steam to keep you safe from shovelware.

The flack is because of the inconsistency and lack of transparency and feedback, an indie dev can make a quality functional game that many or even most people would consider "good" (at the right price point ofc) and get turned by Valve with no explanation. They can get huge numbers of Greenlight votes by attracting the attention of the community and still get either turned down or left in limbo without a decision both with no explanation, yet if they go to "greatgamespublishizerXOXOX" and agree to hand over a huge percentage of any potential income they can get on most of the time (although some still get refused for bullshit reasons, like "we haven't reached a decision on your Greenlight application...).

Meanwhile "greatgamespublishizerXOXOX" is trawling endless back catalogues of broken or garbage shovelware and can list several a week, the shovelware spam is also hurting the visibility and sales of the indies that either managed to get accepted, got through Greenlight or sold their soul to a scalping publisher to get at least some income. Its also hurting the trust of the consumers and making them wary of the shovelware and unwilling to take a chance on indie games in general, so even if they manage to get on there in the first place they are still suffering because of Valves policies.

BigTuk:
You're basically saying the problems of Indie devs boil down to.. they are unprepared to deal with a competitive free market.

Not at all, the market has rigged itself against them by the way its evolved and often its pure luck and nothing to do with skill and Valves policies are exacerbating it. Passing Greenlight will often not lead to getting accepted, yet a garbage game can go through a publisher without a hitch. The store front itself will often assign greater visibility to that piece of broken shovelware than another game that managed a good PR campaign that got it through the gauntlet of Greenlight and accepted by Valve.

The premise you are working from is that every developer has an equal chance and its all based on merit when its proving to be anything but, the best way for any indie to get success is to get on Steam despite the 1-2 exceptions like Mojang.

Valve are the ultimate gatekeepers of what gets onto Steam, regardless of whether a game has earned itself community support via Greenlight or not. Getting acceptance is unpredictable with no obvious standards or methodology on Valves part, from what can be seen its chaotic and based on someones whim at the time the decision is made as there is no consistency about what will be accepted or not.

Meanwhile the shovelware pubishers can scalp devs and publish whatever they want, to add insult to injury the way the storefront works it will give the shovelware greater visibilty over a game that either got accepted by Valve on its own merits or got both the community support and Valves acceptance.

As much as this guy deserves it, not only did he screw himself over, he screwed over his artist, who had absolutely nothing to do with the incident, and essentially had is life ruined from this one stupid mistake of his co-worker. Not to mention that he had every right to be angry with the false information on the banner, potentially a large number of sales were lost by that alone, but venting it publicly is absolutely stupid, for any dev, and this should have been handled behind the scenes, still, just look at the twitter of the artist, absolutely depressing shit right here, feel so bad for him.

https://twitter.com/Vallisca3x3x3

Sure he's over reacting to a certain extent as well, but his entire career just fell apart. Just going to leave this here to show the situation isn't that black and white (Picture is huge, don't know how to resize through the forum without going back and editing it.):

On one hand, steam is a terrible platform with a horrifying near monopoly, and Valve is a awful greasy company that seems to show zero concern for indies and I totaly see why he would be really mad at them.
On the other hand at this point Gabe is the Alpha and Omega of PC, the cult leader, the judge jury and executioner, and making death threats against him is a really fucking stupid plan.

EDIT: Also really sad to see the artist for the game, who didn't even say anything, is apparently getting attacked by journos and random people (presumably Valve zelots). Guy just saw his career shatter into tiny pieces for something he had no control over, step off him you shitty parasites.

*Phew* Its a good thing Gabe is a guy, because otherwise this would be terrible!

I bet Bob Chapman considers him a "good target"

Man, This guy is a huge idiot.

Clearly his Halloween name should have been Darth Maulbeck.

Reasonable: Being upset that your game is not getting the support it should.

Unreasonable: Making public death threats over it!

Look, in the heat of the moment we have all thought or said things we shouldn't have. But when making comments on the internet you can't take that back, everyone will see it! Twitter is the worst thing to happen to PR, so any people don't know when to shut their mouth.

(Captcha: no regrets)

Bet he has a few of them XD

The guy said something dumb because of a legitimate problem (to them anyway) they were experiencing. Sadly its out there forever and all that.

I wouldn't call that a death threat, at least not a credible one in the least, but people can respond to it however they see fit and I think that they did so perfectly appropriately.

That being said, I hate Steam. I refuse to use it, and besides loathing their monolithic stranglehold on PC game distribution, I'm not so much a fan of Valve's actual games either. I liked Portal, and to a far lesser extent Portal 2. You take out Cave Johnson and that game is trash. Everything else didn't excite me at all. Half Life 3 will never come out, because there is just no way to please ANYONE now. They would be selling it to the children or grandchildren of the people that played the original at this point.

bartholen:
Lesson 1: Don't make death threats on Twitter
Lesson 2: Don't write anything on Twitter when you're pissed off
Lesson 3: If you're stupid enough to both write and make threats on Twitter when you're pissed off, you probably shouldn't be making games in the first place.

My philosophy is "Don't write anything anywhere public when you're pissed off"

You don't make a scene and expect no one to react, my condolences go out to the second Paranautical Activity developer.

Isn't that the most selfish and irresponsible thing a dev in his situation can do? to gamble with both his and his colleague's careers?

Indie devs and social media have never been a good thing, indie devs don't have the capacity and the staff to handle social media, the reason this all went down is because the dev that got angry got tons of messages and tweets about how he was trying to censor criticism by still having the game be under the early-access program despite advertising the final update.

One could also say that Valve is in the wrong here for paying attention to a dev making a scene and about how scary valve is due to it having what might aswell be a monopoly on PC, i don't fully agree, but i wouldn't bash anyone for having such a rational differing opinion.

Adultratedhydra:

Ronack:
Sooooooo, Gaben doesn't announce it all over twitter, leaves his house for feeling threatened, blame gamergate, has his friend plug his work and go on MSNBC? Well, well, well ...

Careful. You'll have the SJW's on you for trying to compare the suffering of women in the industry to the suffering of men int he industry if that comment gets out.

Is there any chance you could not reduce to slurs that throw everyone under the same blanket? Or can I start using crude terms that mock everyone that identifies as pro-Gamergate?

J Tyran:

ASnogarD:
Steam isn't a monopoly, it doesn't prevent you from releasing titles but merely decides on its own merit which titles to allow access to its established userbase, which is ironic as Steam gets a lot of flack for allowing any old rubbish in but gets criticism if it tries block any.
I feel Steam is like a huge shop, just be aware of what you are buying and don't expect Steam to keep you safe from shovelware.

The flack is because of the inconsistency and lack of transparency and feedback, an indie dev can make a quality functional game that many or even most people would consider "good" (at the right price point ofc) and get turned by Valve with no explanation. They can get huge numbers of Greenlight votes by attracting the attention of the community and still get either turned down or left in limbo without a decision both with no explanation, yet if they go to "greatgamespublishizerXOXOX" and agree to hand over a huge percentage of any potential income they can get on most of the time (although some still get refused for bullshit reasons, like "we haven't reached a decision on your Greenlight application...).

Meanwhile "greatgamespublishizerXOXOX" is trawling endless back catalogues of broken or garbage shovelware and can list several a week, the shovelware spam is also hurting the visibility and sales of the indies that either managed to get accepted, got through Greenlight or sold their soul to a scalping publisher to get at least some income. Its also hurting the trust of the consumers and making them wary of the shovelware and unwilling to take a chance on indie games in general, so even if they manage to get on there in the first place they are still suffering because of Valves policies.

I agree that Valve are not doing themselves any favours with the whole Greenlight fiasco and publisher favouritism, but its understandable...

Valve started Greenlight as a means for the gaming consumer to vote in which games got the go ahead, and it turned into a popularity contest instead as consumers en-mass cant really be trusted to make decisions regarding a piece of software's viability.

Publishers in turn are entities that revolve around pushing software produced by studios, so if the software is rubbish it is the publisher that should take the hit for publishing rubbish, so its natural for Valve to simply allow publishers to publish material... Steam is more of a market place, and Valve are the landowner and its not their place to judge tastes (just illegal or material that breaches ToS).

Don't forget Valve recently unveiled the 'curator' system where the consumer can follow a popular persons choice of games and use that as a base to evaluate the value of a piece of software.
If you agree with Jim Sterling's reviews and choice of games, you can check his 'curator choices' and see if there is any in there, rather than mucking through the flood of shovelware.

Between Greenlight and this new 'curator' system, I would be inclined to say that Valve is indeed trying (albeit slowly) to empower its userbase to make better decisions, which is better than unilaterally vetoing titles based on some obscure set of scales.

Steam is only required if the title uses Steamworks, otherwise the game developers / publishers are free to publish the title as they see fit... hardly a unreasonable situation to expect Steamworks enabled products to require Steam.
I cant see Valve being the big nasty villain, just slow as usual for Valve who did basically invent the soon tm meme for Valve time :P

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