A case for publishing the game on Steam

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A case for publishing the game on Steam

by M@yeulC » Wed Jun 14, 2017 06:35

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[Pool deleted because simple votes were not helping, here is a manual count from the posts]
Yes: M@yeulC, ExeterDad, MineYoshi
No: Linuxdirk

[Original message]
Hello there,

I am new on these forums, and I will admit that being a newcomer isn't in my best interest when starting a topic such as this one.
First of all, I would like to say that I researched if the subject was brought up on GitHub, the wiki, the forum or the web. While I had multiple matches for "steam" in the forums (none of the one I looked were directly related to this topic), this wasn't the case with the other. So, I apologize if the subject was brought up before, and we should write a wiki page to document the current position on this "feature", either from this discussion I have missed, or from the one that will follow this post.

Short introduction to Steam for the ones that do not know the platform, or as a reminder to put things into perspective:
Steam is the leading gaming platform and online retailer. I do not even need to look up figures to know this. It is growing very quickly, and with time has come to a point where it has an extremely wide diversity of games to offer, and gamers on it. Developped by Valve, it grew from a digital platform associated with the Half-Life series to a digital storefront of 10000+ games and growing fast. Indeed, Valve progressively switched its role to a mere launcher/updater for its own games, to a highly curated digital store, to a self-publishing platform.

Would Valve allow Minetest to be published on Steam?
Certainly. I do not think it violates any of Valve's guidelines on games that I know, and there are already some open source, completely free games on Steam. It doesn't require DRM, and any client integration is optional.

Why would Minetest ever want to be on Steam?
I see two reasons. Exposure and convenience. Let's detail them here; that's the main motivation behind this post.

Exposure.
As the leading gaming platform, Steam has millions of players. Most gamers have a library of games on Steam, as well as a list of friends they like to play with, and are subscribed to gaming groups. Having Minetest on Steam would allow gamers to discover Minetest, either via the store itself, or with the social media features: When I see a friend playing a game I don't know, I'm intrigued; when I see them all playing the same game, I want to join them.

Convenience.
This is the most important reason. If you've grown accustomed to the ease of use of distribution platforms like Steam, it's quite difficult to go back to the installer/make; make install way of doing things (same for app stores and package managers). But, that's just for installing and updating. There are a lot of features that could prove interesting for a Multiplayer, mod-oriented game such as Minetest.
Firstly, social integration (need support from the client): when a friend is playing, just click on a dropdown arrow near their name, and select "join game". You're in. You can also send invitations for joining a game, publish direct hyperlinks to a game server (a great feature, together with the steam groups: publish an event, directly with the game server address).
Lastly (I saved it for the end); there is the workshop. I don't know where to start with this one. I don't know if this game was designed with the workshop in mind, or the other way around, but they seem to be made for each other ;)
The workshop allows users to subscribe to some user-generated content for the game (which this game is all about). Maps, game modes, rules, total conversions, texture packs/graphics mods, items, vehicles, weapons... everything that can be modded in games that support it can be added to the workshop. It has its own rating system, user comment, collections, etc; thus making it a great place to find and share mods. I think I could elaborate for hours, but I think that will do for now.

To give an example of a game that is similar to Minetest, Garry's Mod (workshop link) is huge, and benefits from the workshop system a lot. At least one other user seems to think the same way about Steam, Garry's Mod, Minetest and the workshop (the only thing I found so far on the topic).

What is the process of getting on Steam?
If you choose to go along with this, the newly introduced publishing process is Steam direct (incidentally available starting today). A recoupable fee of $100 is required.
If the Minetest team is open to this, but is not interested in doing it itself, I could have a go at it, with its blessing. If it wants to have a go at it, I would be glad to offer my help (or they are free to go on independently if they want to, of course). In any case, I have no doubts the $100 fee won't be an issue.
Of course, the game can remain on Steam, but not listed, for development purposes, for a while, so the floodgates could be kept shut until decided otherwise.

What needs to be decided beforehand?
Firstly, let's get this out of the way: the pricing. The game could be free, or it could be paid. Some free games have a paid Steam version to help raising funds, this is generally regarded positively by the users as a "donation" to the project, with the added convenience of Steam functionalities. Some other free games have a few "premium" DLCs to the same effect. It can also be completely free, of course. (I would personally advocate for a paid game, with a ~5€ price point, and frequent sales up to 80% to help Minetest be more awesome, and cover the usual costs)
Secondly, the game needs to be associated with a Steam account. It needs to be decided which one should be used (maybe create a new one), and who should have access to it. Now, I am getting on the border of my knowledge on this topic (which is one of the reasons I am interested in doing this).

What are the downsides to this; or what are the reasons this could be rejected by the Minetest team?
Here is what I can think of:
  • The swath of new users is for the best as it is for the worst (kiddies that usually rage on DOTA, for example)
  • We can expect a lot of support requests (especially if the game is paid, but we can always refund it)
  • Minetest might get bad reviews from people complaining about its lack of content, it being a "Minecraft ripoff", and other comment directed at it not being Minecraft.
To the first and the last, I can answer that we *will* get a lot of good people, and awesome programmers/mod writers; and that Garry's mod is doing great despite having similar issues. I personally think most gamers will likely get this game right, especially if they are introduced to it by their friends, through a collection of mods. And having more users and modders will very likely mean more content over time.

What is my motivation for doing/writing this?
I would like to play Minetest with my friends, have an easy way to give them the installation directives, browse mods, join their games or have them joining mines, etc...
I would also really be interested in learning more about the Steam publishing process, and publishing a game would be a great opportunity!
Let me state this very clearly: although I might be a newcomer to you, I am not in any way seeking personal financial gain for this, and I am just volunteering for the job. The rest is up to you!!!

Thank you for reading this far, I tried to be as detailed as possible in this post, I hope I will receive some positive criticism :)
So, what does the team think?

Edit: I also support the idea of putting it on other content distribution platforms as well, such as GOG or itch.io. However, the workshop functionality is only available on Steam as far as I know, and it is the main reason I would like to put it there.
Last edited by M@yeulC on Sun Jun 18, 2017 09:24, edited 5 times in total.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by Linuxdirk » Wed Jun 14, 2017 09:03

A vendor lock-in might happen. Of course first it won't but using steam will sink in more and more into that and sooner or later steam-specific things will be made being at best. useless or inconvenient for non Steam users.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by M@yeulC » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:57

Linuxdirk wrote:steam-specific things will be made being at best. useless or inconvenient for non Steam users.

Of course it will. Workshop/lobby integration would be nice to have. I agree that the features will be useless for non-Steam user, but not that it will be inconvenient. There are probably a couple of windows-only features (code-wise, as in support, not something you would like to have on other operating systems, mind you) in there, that are useless, but not inconvenient to you.

This doesn't mean that lock-in happens, lock-in is just a matter of what is accepted upstream. In the worst case, a fork could happen.
1st case: we make it so that a forked version with Steam integration lives on Steam
2nd case: in the extremely unlikely case that upstream gets locked-in into Steam, there will probably be a huge interest in forking it.

I don't feel like either case is necessary, or even likely. I think that Steam integration, if there is some, can be well-contained and living upstream without affecting anything else. Even better, it will probably require some refactoring, and help abstract the code better (just consider it as a platform itself).

Keep in mind that no changes to the code are required, but I wouldn't launch it without lobby and workshop support.
Last edited by M@yeulC on Wed Jun 14, 2017 14:56, edited 1 time in total.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by ExeterDad » Wed Jun 14, 2017 13:13

If someone was to make this happen... look me up. I'll pony up the $100
Totally worth it if this will get MT on more machines.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by MineYoshi » Wed Jun 14, 2017 14:43

Steam Workshopers will love this, i'm sure. Just polish the modding API a bit and it'll work.

I just would recommend redoing the menu, that's something we need too.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by M@yeulC » Wed Jun 14, 2017 15:07

ExeterDad wrote:If someone was to make this happen... look me up. I'll pony up the $100
Totally worth it if this will get MT on more machines.

I would as well, so as I said, don't worry about it just yet. Plus, this is a recoupable fee :)

MineYoshi wrote:Steam Workshopers will love this, i'm sure. Just polish the modding API a bit and it'll work.

I just would recommend redoing the menu, that's something we need too.

What remains to be done on the modding API side I am a bit curious about this.

About the menu, it is true that it is a bit spartan right now, but it could work very well with the workshop (I am thinking about the game selector at the bottom specifically; it is actually similar to the one from Garry's Mod). It is however not very new-user-friendly, and I agree that it could be made much better.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by MineYoshi » Wed Jun 14, 2017 15:20

M@yeulC wrote:
MineYoshi wrote:Steam Workshopers will love this, i'm sure. Just polish the modding API a bit and it'll work.

I just would recommend redoing the menu, that's something we need too.

What remains to be done on the modding API side I am a bit curious about this.

About the menu, it is true that it is a bit spartan right now, but it could work very well with the workshop (I am thinking about the game selector at the bottom specifically; it is actually similar to the one from Garry's Mod). It is however not very new-user-friendly, and I agree that it could be made much better.

One of the principal things the modding API needs, is making a better way to display inventories and menus in the game rather than formspecs, or at least polishing these so they can be easier to code and better to show in screen. Formspecs lack spots with scrollable text, and in small screens formspecs don't work so well.

We need a better menu, as you said the actual one is hard to understand, we need something easier to understand and control.

But so far the game is very good, it's just bringing up some mods from the forum to show players and coders what this baby can do.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by M@yeulC » Wed Jun 14, 2017 18:51

MineYoshi wrote:
M@yeulC wrote:
MineYoshi wrote:Steam Workshopers will love this, i'm sure. Just polish the modding API a bit and it'll work.

I just would recommend redoing the menu, that's something we need too.

What remains to be done on the modding API side I am a bit curious about this.

About the menu, it is true that it is a bit spartan right now, but it could work very well with the workshop (I am thinking about the game selector at the bottom specifically; it is actually similar to the one from Garry's Mod). It is however not very new-user-friendly, and I agree that it could be made much better.

One of the principal things the modding API needs, is making a better way to display inventories and menus in the game rather than formspecs, or at least polishing these so they can be easier to code and better to show in screen. Formspecs lack spots with scrollable text, and in small screens formspecs don't work so well.

We need a better menu, as you said the actual one is hard to understand, we need something easier to understand and control.

But so far the game is very good, it's just bringing up some mods from the forum to show players and coders what this baby can do.

I understand. I've dived a bit more into this, and there are also a few other limitations that aren't really nice, such as memory restrictions, and the fact that the modding API is single-threaded. Hopefully those can be lifted as well at some point in the future.

However, the game could release as "early access", and we can hold off releasing it until we are really happy with what we have ;)

I have taken a few hours to read in detail some parts of the newly released Steamworks Documentation, including the Steam Workshop API, Steam cloud (character customization would fit in), Lobbies, Steam controller... I am literally tingling to start hacking on this :P

However, some parts might prove difficult: we have to provide some tax information, etc; and that is part of the reason why I am writing this topic, to see how the Minetest team would react to such a suggestion, and to see what can be done.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by Jordach » Wed Jun 14, 2017 19:05

The bonus with having Minetest on Steam is the potential for NexusMods to pick up serving mods to the community, in addition to having Steam Workshop.

Coming from a Skyrim addict, who likes both the Nexus and Workshop, it's really a nobrainer to get at least Nexus ModManager support. This also means activating per-world and per-subgame mods.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by M@yeulC » Thu Jun 15, 2017 16:12

The pool was a bad Idea. I added it "because why not" when writing the post, but as a result, I can't know what people who answer it are thinking, and even worse, I can't know whether the voters are actually dummy accounts or not. I added ~10 hours ago a part saying that I will only consider written answers. It would probably be better if I just deleted the pool.

To be truly honest, I wouldn't have been bothered that much if the majority of those votes had been positive. However, I won't be satisfied until every person who is opposed to this project is stating why in detail.

For now, we have:
Code: Select all
Yes   [=====>    ] 3/5 = 60% (M@yeulC, ExterDad, Jordach)
Later [=>        ] 1/5 = 20% (MineYoshi)
No    [=>        ] 1/5 = 20% (Linuxdirk)


@MineYoshi: would it bother you to have, say, a closed Beta until it's ready? (For example, that is accessible to every forum member who asks for it).

I am also trying to address the concerns of people who are against it, but for this, I need two things: to know what those concerns are, and to have a true exchange with them :)
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by MineYoshi » Thu Jun 15, 2017 16:23

M@yeulC wrote:@MineYoshi: would it bother you to have, say, a closed Beta until it's ready? (For example, that is accessible to every forum member who asks for it).

I am also trying to address the concerns of people who are against it, but for this, I need two things: to know what those concerns are, and to have a true exchange with them :)

I wouldn't be against it. Actually it's better to make an enjoyable game before releasing to Steam, make a new menu, fix some bugs and polish if needed.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by M@yeulC » Thu Jun 15, 2017 16:59

MineYoshi wrote:
M@yeulC wrote:@MineYoshi: would it bother you to have, say, a closed Beta until it's ready? (For example, that is accessible to every forum member who asks for it).

I am also trying to address the concerns of people who are against it, but for this, I need two things: to know what those concerns are, and to have a true exchange with them :)

I wouldn't be against it. Actually it's better to make an enjoyable game before releasing to Steam, make a new menu, fix some bugs and polish if needed.

Well, this is actually what I would like to do, so maybe I should rephrase the "later" to "this is not something we should start worrying about now, but maybe later" :)
Anyway, at this point, I would just like to hear a bit from the team ;)

Jordach wrote:The bonus with having Minetest on Steam is the potential for NexusMods to pick up serving mods to the community, in addition to having Steam Workshop.

Coming from a Skyrim addict, who likes both the Nexus and Workshop, it's really a nobrainer to get at least Nexus ModManager support. This also means activating per-world and per-subgame mods.

Of course, that would be an opportunity to abstract the code even more in those places, to support other mods manager. I am not personally a user of NexusMods (They don't have a manager for Linux ^^"), but that's something I can keep in mind. However, from what I've seen, it doesn't seem to require support from the game, unless I am mistaken. Is it integrated with the Steam workshop?
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by Gerald » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:50

At first, I support the idea.


M@yeulC wrote:What needs to be decided beforehand?
Firstly, let's get this out of the way: the pricing. The game could be free, or it could be paid. Some free games have a paid Steam version to help raising funds, this is generally regarded positively by the users as a "donation" to the project, with the added convenience of Steam functionalities. Some other free games have a few "premium" DLCs to the same effect. It can also be completely free, of course. (I would personally advocate for a paid game, with a ~5€ price point, and frequent sales up to 80% to help Minetest be more awesome, and cover the usual costs)
Secondly, the game needs to be associated with a Steam account. It needs to be decided which one should be used (maybe create a new one), and who should have access to it. Now, I am getting on the border of my knowledge on this topic (which is one of the reasons I am interested in doing this).


One problem of a free game is the negative connotation according to dishonest business practices of some free-to-play games.
One problem of a paid version is, that the game itself will be always available for free. This should be stated clear.
I think if we go for a paid version, a price of 1€ or 2€ is sufficient.

In regard to the problem of ownership of the game, steam account and the related funds there are different solutions:
  • The current solution: Celeron55 manages all financial stuff.
    Problem: His actions are not verified and if he dies or something like this, there is no easy way to access the funds.
  • Forming a legal association.
    Problem:
    We have to decide who should be part of the association. The core development team is the first option. This approach excludes the modding community completely. Another option is to allow everyone to join. This could be impossible to arrange.

    An example of this approach is the community driven mud morgengrauen: the association(german).
    If a association is approved charitable, donations can be deducted from taxes. (I only know about the legal situation in germany)
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by kaadmy » Sun Jul 09, 2017 14:16

Itch.io also has an option to set a minimum price and recommended price for games, so you could have a free game that asks you for $5 when you download it.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by Byakuren » Mon Jul 10, 2017 17:19

kaadmy wrote:Itch.io also has an option to set a minimum price and recommended price for games, so you could have a free game that asks you for $5 when you download it.

Itch.io doesn't fulfill the exposure point of putting Minetest on Steam. If Minetest is put on itch then it will mainly be exposed to other game developers.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by M@yeulC » Tue Jul 11, 2017 14:26

Gerald wrote:In regard to the problem of ownership of the game, steam account and the related funds there are different solutions:
  • The current solution: Celeron55 manages all financial stuff.
    Problem: His actions are not verified and if he dies or something like this, there is no easy way to access the funds.
  • Forming a legal association.
    Problem:
    We have to decide who should be part of the association. The core development team is the first option. This approach excludes the modding community completely. Another option is to allow everyone to join. This could be impossible to arrange.

    An example of this approach is the community driven mud morgengrauen: the association(german).
    If a association is approved charitable, donations can be deducted from taxes. (I only know about the legal situation in germany)

Well, now that I think about it again, there is also another option, which is joining another umbrella organization that manages the funds, taxes and so on (while taking a cut, obviously, they also have fees even if they are nonprofits). Examples of such organizations include (as far as I know) SPI, maybe also the FSF/GNU, KDE (the community). They would handle the funds and (as far as I know) the spending.

Additionally, another option would be to form a new structure with some other open source projects (OpenArena, Sauerbraten, Warsow, Nexuiz, Super Tuk (kart)) and pus these games on commercial platforms while securing some funding.

Gerald wrote:One problem of a free game is the negative connotation according to dishonest business practices of some free-to-play games.

I wouldn't say this is a problem. A lot of free games are completely free and well-received. Actually, in my experience, this is still what people expect from a free game (and usually being disappointed with the pay-to-win games, or they just don't care about the free-to-play-with-hats).

Plus, steam puts a distinction between "free to play" games and "free" games. One such example is Teeworlds (free, open source):
http://store.steampowered.com/app/380840/Teeworlds/
Contrast to:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/20430 ... e_2D_moba/
http://store.steampowered.com/app/212070/Star_Conflict/

Actually, I do not quite understand the distinction they make, but I think they mean with "Free" that all unlocks/gameplay-altering items are freely available/unlockable.

Gerald wrote:One problem of a paid version is, that the game itself will be always available for free. This should be stated clear.
I think if we go for a paid version, a price of 1€ or 2€ is sufficient.

There are a few examples of such games, although I do not remember which ones at the moment, unfortunately. But yes, I think this should be made clear.
I also think such a price is sufficient, but was thinking with frequent Steam sales (25-90% off) in mind, although that could piss off some customers (but could give some people a way to donate more).

I also like this feature on itch.io, but unfortunately, they don't have functionality similar to the Steam workshop, so this is a bit less appealing, and they have less exposure. I would support putting it there (and on GOG) as well, but with a very small fee, if at all.

@kaadmy, @Byakuren, do you support the idea, though? I would say yes at first, but it is not completely clear to me.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by Byakuren » Tue Jul 11, 2017 15:50

I don't want to support Steam / Valve. I would be fine with Itch.io, but I don't feel that it would be very effective.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by kaadmy » Tue Jul 11, 2017 16:35

The main issue with Steam is that yes, it would get Minetest more publicity, but I don't think Minetest is ready for thousands of Minec***t kids complaining that mods are too hard to install.
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by ABJ » Tue Jul 25, 2017 20:13

Yeah, we need more polish - way more. Minetest is great for the sensible, but those are not all.
 

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What's the point?

by Wuzzy » Mon Jul 31, 2017 16:30

Personally, I absolutely hate Steam. I don't get it why people voluntarily install it. I will always remember it as the MS Windows application which was forced on me to play some of Valve's games. It was awful. There is a reason why you can find many no-Steam cracks in the cracker scene. Hint: It's not becaue Steam is so great. Also, Steam is proprietary software. Surprise! Why exactly should we care about proprietary software? It would also send the message that we, as a community, are absolutely fine with proprietary software.

What is completely out of question is that Minetest starts using any of Steam's APIs, DLLs, and whatnot because you have to depend on proprietary software. I hope we can at least agree on that.

Also, I don't even see the point. Are gamers really too stupid to just install the games on their own? And there are dozens of other “game listing websites”, Steam is not unique.

Yes, Steam is popular. Maybe too popular. There are now so many games on Steam that it is hard to stand out. I think it deserves to die. It's not even guaranteed that Minetest will become more popular because of this.

I understand your popularity argument seems to be a strong one. But why does Minetest have to be more popular? I think it already has a quite large and healhy community and player base. You can always find many players online. In this sense, Minetest has already succeeded. For players who rarely or never play multiplayer (like me), popularity doesn't even really matter that much.
I think Minetest doesn't have to be more popular. Popularity is not a bad thing, but by no means a requirement.

You should concentrate your promotion efforts on other online free software games like Xonotic where lack of popularity is a big problem. Xonotic only has a few people online at any given time which is sad.



But OK: If you really love Steam so much, make a free software clone of it, but without the bullshit and malfeatures and questionable offers. Then I might get mildly interested. The problem is, Steam has quite a lot bullshit in it. xD

Regarding the money suggestion: No. You have no idea on how to fairly divide that money, and some people WILL feel betrayed and maybe even start to envy each other. This creates two classes of developers: Those who earn $$$ and those who earn nothing. We can no longer treat each other as equals this way. Let's not destroy our community.

If you've grown accustomed to the ease of use of distribution platforms like Steam, it's quite difficult to go back to the installer/make; make install way of doing things (same for app stores and package managers).

What the hell do you have against package managers?
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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by rubenwardy » Mon Jul 31, 2017 17:37

It's simple. Steam gives you convenience and cheap games. I think Steam is great, but each to their own

Wuzzy wrote:Also, Steam is proprietary software.


So? 99% of good games are proprietary.

Wuzzy wrote:are absolutely fine with proprietary software.


I for one am. It's also worth noting that we use Github to distribute our source which is a proprietary platform

Wuzzy wrote:What is completely out of question is that Minetest starts using any of Steam's APIs, DLLs, and whatnot because you have to depend on proprietary software. I hope we can at least agree on that.


This isn't required nor would it happen

Wuzzy wrote:There is a reason why you can find many no-Steam cracks in the cracker scene. Hint: It's not becaue Steam is so great


That's because steam is popular, and having a crack opens up many games to pirating.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by BirgitLachner » Mon Jul 31, 2017 17:51

Besides all other discussion points. The advantage of Steam it, that more games are distributed for Linux.
 

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Re: A case for publishing the game on Steam

by Wuzzy » Mon Aug 07, 2017 17:25

The issue with Steam is not only that it is proprietary software (which is bad enough on its own) but that it is malware.
To quote https://libre-gaming.net/articles/steam.html:
Lyberta wrote:Spyware

Valve Anti-Cheat is a spyware that scans your computer to try detect an unauthorized modification of the game. Not much is known about the it's design since it uses security through obscurity. When you connect to a VAC secured server, you give up your control of your computer. And since VAC is just another program, it has bugs which can lead to false positives and will lock you out from the game. In 2006 Steam installed a special device called "Steamdrv" which could be seen in Device Explorer. This can mean that Valve wanted a Ring-0 access to full internals of your computer.


This easily fulfils even the strictest definitions of “spyware” and “malware”. No feature in the world can outweigh this.

More about VAC:
Wikipedia wrote: It uses Signature Scanning to detect possible cheats when scanning the computer's memory and processes, an incident report is created whenever an anomaly is detected, it is then compared to a database of banned applications and/or analyzed by Valve's engineers

Frankly, VAC scans your RAM. Very scary.

Seriously, start to ask inconvenient questions to Valve. For example, why does Steam have to be proprietary software (They don't sell the software, after all)? What were they thinking when they added Steamdrv? How does VAC work? Do they truly believe in Security by Obscurity? Why do they support DRM? And so on.

It's simple. Steam gives you convenience and cheap games. I think Steam is great, but each to their own

Let me get this absolutely clear: Steam is malware. This alone makes it absolutely out of question to even consider, if you ask me. Let alone putting your game on Steam.

And the fact that Steam is popular just means the infection has spread very far. ;-)
I also want to restate that Minetest does not have to be popular.
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