An Indie Game Publisher Just Subtweeted Steam

By Kate Gray on at

There's nothing better than a good subtweet. Done badly, they can come across as vicious or petty; done well, they can make you look like the winner in an argument you didn't even have.

Considering that we've currently got US National Parks and the Merriam-Webster dictionary subtweeting the President of the United States, the vague, passive-aggressive tweet is clearly a powerful tool.

So, when Steam announced that they'd be replacing their popular Greenlight service, which allows developers to submit their games for public voting, with something called "Steam Direct", the internet was not pleased.

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Steam Direct, other than sounding like something a fancy iron might have, will take away all that public voting and ask developers to simply submit their game to a basic compatibility test and pay a fee.

Firstly, people are mad that there's a fee, because while Greenlight has a one-off $100 fee (£80), that allows them to submit as many games as they like. This new fee will likely be more than that, and will also be per individual project, serving as yet another barrier for developers to publish their games on the platform.

Secondly, this really lowers the bar for Steam games. Considering that 40 per cent of all Steam games were released last year, and that's with Greenlight, having just a compatibility test rather than hundreds of human eyes on each game will probably mean even more games published.

So, yeah - it looks like a bit of a money-grabbing enterprise from Steam. And that's where indie game publisher itch.io came in:

Now, itch.io direct isn't new, by the sounds of it. Here's what itch.io's PR/press guy, Chris Dwyer, had to say:

So, itch.io didn't create their direct service in response to Steam's announcement, but still - it's a pretty good reaction. They might not have the numbers and visibility Steam has, but they're also not going to charge you huge amounts of money for the privilege of having you onboard. They do take a cut - which you can edit, from 0 to 100 per cent - whereas Steam takes a minimum of 30 per cent.

Subtweeting aside, this is a really interesting look at what the future of game publishing could be. Perhaps Steam is about to be unseated from its throne, and itch.io is the young upstart who'll do it.

Or, you know, things might just stay the same as they've always been.