Steam Sends Indies Who Got Publishing Offer Back To Greenlight

Shortly after opening their Steam Greenlight campaign for the game Paranautical Activity, the two-man studio Code Avarice got a phone call that would have made any indie's day: It was Adult Swim, offering to publish their game on Steam." Yeah, well, not so fast.

As Code Avarice's Mike Maulbeck and Travis Pfenning explain in that video above, when Adult Swim — taking a chance on a PC title after dealing mostly with flash and mobile games — went to pitch Paranautical Activity to Valve, they were told no dice. "Their response was basically, 'We don't want to send the message that indies should seek out publishers to get around Greenlight,'" the duo recalled.

Valve, through spokesman Doug Lombardi, confirmed the gist of the statement to PCGamesN. "Our message to indies regarding publishers is do it for your own reasons, but do not split your royalties with a publisher expecting an automatic ‘Yes’ on Greenlight.'"

Maulbeck and Pfenning are not happy.

"We've got a Greenlight campaign that we haven't even touched in months, and now we have to resurrect it from the ashes," they said.

They asked Adult Swim if it would work to promote their Greenlight campaign to get the game on Steam and the response was, more or less, no, because Adult swim doesn't want to get sideways with Steam/Valve. "We haven't officially decided if we want to go with them," the said. "The fact we have to get on Steam with our own two feet," after getting this kind of an offer from a publisher, "is really a kind of bummer."

Valve to indies seeking publisher deals to bypass Greenlight: "do not split your royalties with a publisher expecting an automatic ‘Yes’." [PCGamesN]


    Given that "Greenlight" was, in essence, a tool used to allow Indy developers to pitch their product to a potential audience, and that audience "vote" on whether it should be published, I can see where Valve are coming from here

      I highly doubt the audience that browses greenlight is indicative of the entire Steam audience.
      Besides, they got a publishing offer. Shouldn't that pretty much say the game's good enough?

        I highly doubt the audience that browses greenlight is indicative of the entire Steam audience.

        Beside the point in this case, the option is there for the entire Steam audience, if people choose not to participate, they also waive their rights to complain/comment on that process

        Besides, they got a publishing offer. Shouldn't that pretty much say the game's good enough?

        Initially I would completely agree, but I am sure that there are Ts&Cs is using the Greenlight system. The devs havent been refused the opportunity to use Greenlight, they have been refused the right to bypass the service that they freely opted in to

      So Greenlight is the Australian Idol of gaming?

    I agree with Valve on this. The whole point is to get indie games on steam without the need for a 3rd party. They should have spoken with Valve about it before committing to the publisher.

    Wtf valve if they're lucky enough to pick up a publisher out of the blue why act like a dick about them leaving your system where they maybe get a release for a setup where they definitely get released, whats next you're gonna break into their house and boil their rabbit alive?

    I hate greenlight. It's a broken system.
    I also think that they should remove the no function as it'll make it a bit fairer. Unfortunately, those games that are most promoted are chosen to be greenlit. So people who will struggle with that have little to no chance.

      As far as I'm aware they don't actually use the no feature, it just removes it from the individual person's list. The only number they use is the number of yes votes a game gets and how that compares to the number of yes votes other games get (hence the top 100)
      The do a fairly decent job of promoting all games, the queue of games get shown to people and constantly refreshed. People who manage to promote their games will do better because they get direct visits to their game, but that will be the same with any product. The same theory applies to things like the app stores, the ones who can promote their app will get the most sales.

        Well, Atyllnex has had 8k NOs. Nyu media, who listed it, can see all the people who've said no and for someone trying to get their game on steam it can be incredibly disheartening.
        The thing is that we're going to miss out on niche games because it's one huge popularity contest. Some of my favourite games are ones that other people hated.

          I suppose that would be, I was thinking about it from a getting onto steam perspective which it has no bearing on. But I can see how that would be harder on the developer.

          Some niche games will miss out but I would much prefer some sort of gate keeping rather than an open slather app store model where there has been no filtering and you need to wade through rip offs and steaming piles to try and find something playable.
          But some niche categories are able to get things out to a wider audience, turn based strategy games have done well in greenlight after being mostly ignored by steam before greenlight was launched

            Shoot 'em ups are being ignored though. Because Nyu media focuses on Japanese indie games, we get a lot of responses saying "I don't want no weeaboo game". The thing that I don't understand is that we were paired with capcom which people held against us, so we've tried greenlight only to have our games in limbo.

            I understand their should be some filtering system. I just think their should be an independent body to check to see if the game works very well. If it does, pass it. If it's a blatant rip off, reject it. And those who pass for being inferior could be told what they need to do to improve their game.

    From reading about this, here is my understanding of the situation:

    Dev: Hey, I have this game, can I sell it via Steam?
    Steam: No, no publisher - go through Greenlight.
    Dev: Okay! I'm listed now, going okay, but won't get through to be approved at this rate...and a publisher suddenly wants to grab us. Awesome!
    Pub: Hey, Steam. Got this game we're willing to publish. Can we list it like every other game, withdrawing entirely from Greenlight??
    Dev: But I have a publisher now!
    Steam: NO DICE.

    If that's accurate...then Steam are acting like a bunch of jerks.

      Dev: Can we publish with you steam
      Steam: We will consider your game, we have a greenlight process that determines what our client base wants and that is the way you can get published
      Pub: Hi valve, we are one of your competitors, another publisher. Do us a favour and publish this game that is in your greenlight program but isn't rating well.
      Valve: Ummm no, why should we bump that to the front of our list because a competitor has offed to publish the game. If there was a demand for the game it would be reflected in the greenlight stats

        AS is not a competitor to Valve...

        If a publisher was a competitor then there wouldn't be any games on Steam. Valve still get money from the sale no matter who's listed under publisher.

          If they are both publishers doesn't that make them a competitor?
          There might be some overlap and steam is willing to republish but based on the amount of shovelware that have a publisher just getting a publisher isn't reason enough to get listed on steam.
          Get 2k to publish your game and valve might take an interest and would add it to the store. Getting somebody who has a bunch of mobile games, who are not actually going to publish and distribute the game themselves (as far as I could see) and why would steam want that on their store

        In a perfect world where Greenlight is functioning smoothly, I could see Valve's point. However, considering how slow-going the process is, and how popular games like Pinball Arcade and Mutant Mudds can be overlooked, I just can't be OK with Steam being this rigid. If a game can get a publisher, they should be allowed on the service.

        I mean, who knows how many awesome games are being kept behind the wall because they're not "popular" enough to get through Greenlight? Imagine if Portal had to go through a Greenlight process back when it came out. First Person Platforming? Non-Combat? No way it would have passed through the land of Slender and Zombies.

          Well the process may be slow but based on the number of games being submitted it kinda has to be to give games a chance to generate enough interest to rate.
          As for the examples you have give, pinball arcade has already been greenlit and maybe mutant mudds doesn't have as much of a following as you thought. It came in my queue and I said no cause I wouldn't buy it.
          As for portal or mirrors edge no making it through I'm not so sure. There is a wide range of games being greenlit from stanard popular zombie stuff like project zomboid to platforms like shovel knight to rpgs to puzzle based platforms featuring the use of shadows (can't wait for contrast to come out) through to the more artistic things like the light or cradle. I think something like portal would have had no difficulty getting through greenlight

      I agree I thought having a publisher pretty much gets you in the door anyway.

      On Greenlight I've never used so I can't comment on its functionality but the whole premise seems like a knee jerk reaction to kick starter or something.

      Either curate your own store or be like Apple and let absolutely everything in - this halfway approach feels half-baked.

      From what I have seen, the Greenlight system leaves it up to the consumer to decide if it is worth having in the greater Steam catalogue.

      In this case, I think Steam is going down the right path of not setting the precedent, or perception, that their greenlight system is a a harvesting ground for publishers to "cherry pick" upcoming titles.

      Bravo Steam!

        Except finding a publisher is a legitimate avenue to getting your game to sell and reach a broader public. Valve is basically trying to monopolise indie games submitted to the Greenlight system. In no sane world is anyone who is serious about getting their game to sell using JUST Greenlight to get published.

        This just says "hey if you use Greenlight you get a 1% (or lower) chance of getting your game on steam, or you can skip Greenlight, do what everyone has been doing before greenlight for the same chance with no cost of using Greenlight."

        If Valve really cared about Indie studios they should be promoting the service as a picking ground for publishers. With the slim number of games getting Greenlighted overall, how is it not beneficial for Indie developers as a whole? Nobody forces you to accept a publishing deal, and yeah some times they suck, but some times they are great for the devs.

    I wonder, if this game wasn't already in the Greenlight process, would Valve have let it straight through when Adult Swim approached them. I would say yes, they would have. However, it's also very possible Adult Swim were only interested in the game AFTER they saw the enthusiasm on Steam via the Greenlight page. So in part, Valve has already helped the game in that regard.

    Moral of this story this time round: Indie devs should seriously consider their options PRIOR to using the Greenlight service with Valve.

    You're already using Valve in a way, if you get an offer from a publisher after being on Greelight.

      I'm curious as to what exactly they signed on for with adult swim.
      It doesn't sound like they are going to actual publish the game
      They can't get the game directly on steam themselves (and based on the fact they have a feww mobile games I can see why valve would ignore them)
      They are not willing to promote the game
      What exactly have the devs paid for?

        In the video ,the devs state Adult Swim offered television advertisements on their channel and to get the game on Steam (via their game publisher arm.) Valve's Greenlight process doesn't guarantee a game will be published on Steam.

    I cannot believe people are taking Valve's side here.

    Seriously people? Any other game in the world can get on Steam instantly if it's with one of the big publishers, which this game is, they're not "bypassing" Greenlight at all, they just don't need to use it because they have a publisher now.

    The whole point of Greenlight is it is for people who can't get a publisher, they have one now. Would you be okay if the next Call of Duty was on greenlight and taking attention away from indie games? No.

    I love how you fanboys think Valve can do no wrong and take their side no matter what; I love Steam but that doesn't mean I'll always defend them.

      Somebody has signed on with a 'publisher' who has never published a PC game before and that publisher has just assumed they would be able to get the game published on steam.
      If steam let every publisher who has launch some mobile game straight onto steam there would be a flood of game of dubious quality added to steam. And personally I would prefer that only quality games get added to steam (as much as possible anyway).

      How is steam in the wrong here? I buy a lot of steam games and I know that I have no interest in buying that game. Adult swim are the ones taking 40% of profit on the promise they can get another business to publish the game for them.

      Exactly, I don't understand in what way Valve is trying to stay on some moral high ground here.

      Greenlight was designed for those indie developers who can't get a publisher. It's supposed to support smaller indie developers.

      If a developer manages to get a publisher they should be happy that they had the opportunity to do so, not condemn them to the fact that other developers can't have the same opportunity.

      Effectively you're screwing over the opportunity of one developer because other developers can't have the same opportunity.

      It's wrong on a business level and it's wrong on a personal level, considering that the indie developers generally don't have the same plethora of opportunity that large developers get.

    Really poor form on Valve's part. Greenlight was meant to be a way to help indy devs, not screw them over.

    It's been interesting to see the split on this and while I can see the argument on both sides, Steam kind of does have the right standpoint in this. While I feel for the guys who seemed like they had it made, Steam needed to make sure that a precedent wasn't set whereby indies could get through the VIP door if they greased the palms of the bouncer via a publisher contract. It would be unfair to those who can't afford to or don't have the marketing clout to secure publisher contracts.

    So essentially, if Dad says no, don't go and ask Mum because you know she'll be more effective at making Dad say yes.

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