That’s right. We’re planning to soon remove our game Signal to Noise from the Steam digital marketplace. Let me explain why.
The Bundle Mistake
Shortly after release, we participated in a bundle in which we were unable to select the price nor any sort of tier limit in which our game would be available. We honestly didn’t think they (the bundle distributor) would do as low a price as they did, but they did a ridiculously low price that cost us quite a large amount. Not only was it lost revenue, but the customer base of this bundle distributor is not exactly awesome. We got some new players (found to be directly from the bundle) that weren’t at all our target audience, and of course, didn’t get into the game whatsoever. They did however, leave reviews, all of which were negative.
So the bundle was a huge mistake. Why not just keep going after that? Well, let’s continue.
After the bundle finished, we figured that the damage had been done. However, even still long afterward, we found that keys were still being distributed in not-so-small quantities. To sum it up, to this day, many thousands more people have bought the game so that Solanimus gets no money than those that have bought the game legitimately. They were buying Steam keys on questionable websites elsewhere on the internet, and therefore literally no money was getting to Solanimus for the game. Since there’s more than a negligible chance these people would never buy the game legitimately anyway, we of course got even more players way outside our target audience, and of course, more negative reviews.
Note: I don’t blame the audience metrics completely for our negative reviews, as some things did need to change in the game (and they were changed). However, almost all of the negative ratings have been attributed as I have described.
Making the Decision
After much further deliberation and considering the state of the Steam marketplace for independent developers (not good), we’ve come to the decision that this game will no longer be available on Steam. That way we will avoid the illegitimate key distribution issue, we will be able to not give the revenue share to Valve for doing practically nothing to help developers (their recommendations system is a joke), and other problems we’ve encountered thanks to the current state of Steam.
Steam is a disaster of a marketplace right now
It used to be a big deal to get onto Steam. It’s just not anymore. It’s easy to find all over the internet people that talk about how Steam has become horrible. Here are some unfortunately true things I know of:
-Steam doesn’t sell you games, they sell you licenses to play games.
-The bulk of Steam’s community is toxic, especially to newcomers (Note: there are some great people on there too, mind you, but they can probably be found easily elsewhere as well)
-There’s no better way to dilute the value of your game than putting it on Steam: people rarely buy outside of sales on Steam, and with those that do, you still give Valve 30%, not to mention that they hold back your disbursements if under a certain threshold, even after first holding it for two months by default)
-If Valve bans your Steam account, you no longer have access to your games, and they are not required to tell you why you were banned. In some cases, they have banned users for unknown reasons and only have returned the usage of accounts upon the creation of lawsuits by players that apparently have a lot of money involved.
-You are not allowed by Valve to resell your Steam games or accounts. If you do, you can be banned. Tell me… how is that ownership of your games that you paid for?
-Steam is full of a mess of games now, and it’s very difficult if not impossible to break to visibility. There is a lot of luck involved at this point. Honestly, anyone who says differently is just in denial.
…and it goes on and on. These problems with what is widely considered to be a monopolistic digital marketplace for PC games are part of our reasoning for changes we want to help facilitate in this industry. We’re working on it.
In conclusion, Signal is planned to be removed completely from Steam within the next month. Today I have banned all unredeemed keys from the mentioned bundle, so don’t bother trying to get the game illegitimately. Hopefully that’s over with. I will post on social media and in the Steam updates for the game that the unredeemed keys have been banned to minimize the number of people that could get burned buying cheap keys.
Where will the game be available now? Stay tuned. For now, I encourage you to buy the game using the buying widget on the main Signal to Noise site.
Talk to you soon.