Wednesday, January 30th 2019

Steam Desertions Bode Well for Half Life 3 Prospects

When Steam hit critical mass in the mid 2000s, digital distribution of games was close to non-existent, Internet speeds were too low to transmit 8-10 GB games that would ship in DVDs, and game patching was a mess. Steam solved many of these problems by offering distribution, DRM, aftersales support (automatic updates), and even multiplayer services across its network. Steam didn't become popular on its own, though. Valve Software was mainly a game developer, and it marketed Steam by making its AAA smash-hits "Half Life 2" (and its episodes), "Counter Strike," and "Left 4 Dead," exclusive to the DRM platform. Even if you bought those games on DVDs, they would have to be installed and supported through a Steam account. Those games served as tech-demonstrators for Steam, and how efficient an all-encompassing DRM platform can work.

Steam maintained its dominance for a good 8-odd years until big game publishers such as EA and Ubisoft wised up to the concept of multi-brand distribution platforms Steam mastered. Steam operates on a revenue-sharing model. For every Dollar spent on a game, a percentage of the money is retained by Steam toward its services. EA and Ubisoft figured it wasn't rocket-science to copy Steam, and came up with their own platforms, EA Origin, and Ubisoft UPlay, both of which are multi-brand. They figured their capital-expenditure toward running these platforms was less than what they'd pay Steam at scale. EA restricted all its titles to Origin, while Ubisoft made some of its games available on Steam, even though UPlay would remain a concentric DRM layer to those games. Then something changed in 2018.
Epic Games, which was a fence-sitter that stuck to Steam for distributing its wares, took a plunge into this business and served up a disruptive revenue-sharing offer that beat the other platforms. Smaller studios who could use a greater share of revenue than what Steam was offering, made a beeline for Epic Games Store. The latest big deserter is 4A Games, which is releasing "Metro: Exodus" as an Epic Games Store exclusive.

Losses from these desertions will hit Valve's bottom-line, and the company will no doubt undertake a slew of measures, such as improving their revenue-sharing deals, and making its platform "glamorous" again. People recognize Origin as "something you need for playing Battlefield and FIFA" rather than "the largest selection of PC games on the planet." Steam runs the risk of being reduced to "a place to go for indie games," with indie developers drawn to Steam for its captive audience. One way Valve can change that perception is by becoming a major game developer again.

Valve does not make its financials public, but in whatever few glimpses the game business industry got, it's a multi-billion Dollar company, which can afford to develop AAA games, or at least contract a lesser known game developer by licensing its IP to make games (a la Sledgehammer Games developing id Software titles). Additions to key Valve franchises such as "Half Life," "Portal," and "Left 4 Dead" could add value to the Steam platform, and increase its captive base. "Half Life 3" is a meme today, and each year gamers expect an announcement on that game. It remains to be seen if Gabe Newell wants to pick up the gauntlet one more time.
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60 Comments on Steam Desertions Bode Well for Half Life 3 Prospects

#1
the54thvoid
I made that exact point on the Metro/Epic news post. Steam became so complacent it was bound to hit them hard sooner or later. They have great IP that so many of us loved but they just stopped trying (Valve). I resent Valve more than a little for leaving that ending on HL2.
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#2
londiste
It was not really something changing in 2018.

Origin was a BIG change, so was UPlay. Uplay actually existed in various capacities far before it becoming the online platform it is today. Similarly, Epic Launcher (UT, Fortnite and some others) existed long before 2018. Battle.NET is a player and started getting non-Blizzard games a while ago. Bethesda launcher is now a player.

It is kind of a good thing to not have a monopoly on online distribution... but this is annoying as hell for a gamer.

Oh, and Epic Launcher and Epic as a whole sucks ass. I forgot the password to my Epic account, I cannot reset it, their reset emails won't reach me and their support just closes tickets outright. ¤/%&#/%#¤&#%.
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#3
Schrodinger's Bodybag
Honestly, this keeps getting brought up so I'm just going to plop a copypasta every time I see this bigbadsteamisintroublenow circlejerk. I will say I would very much like to see Half Life 3 though.

Schrodinger's Bodybag, post: 3983567, member: 159954"
I can't tell you how many launchers I've had over the past decade+ where I've purchased games from. Guess how many are still around? Not many, and for good reason. All I see is another launcher that will be either dead or a ghost town populated mostly by indie games in 5-10 years.

Yes folks, it's big bad Steam's fault for users not researching games before making an informed buy. Not surprising since these people seem to think advertising and publicity are apparently free in the real world. In almost all corners of the world market, you pay a premium for leading the proverbial horse to the water. Yet 30% is apparently too steep of a charge for moving more product than any other digital distributor out there; considering Steam doesn't put out takedown orders on other digital distributors they aren't the bad guys here. Yet we get people who hail Epic when they force developers into restricting(albeit temporary) contracts...

Furthermore, the "product" is an intangible thing that can be replicated an infinite amount of times for the cost of the electricity it takes to run the servers.

[quote=INSTG8R, post: 3983535, member: 4203"]
This guy gets it.



Hating success is the meta thing to do so I don't think I'm going to stop any virtue signalers from getting their daily dose of dopamine from shouting down a big bad evil corporation. So in the end it doesn't really matter, can't fix stupid.

Steam is as big as it is for a fuckin' reason, if you still can't figure it out then that's your problem.[/quote]
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#4
Arumio
For me as end user who actualy gonna buy and play those shit or not games (it's actualy game in itself, which one those it would be) is absolutly not interesting where i gonna buy them, they all the same (those platforms), but what bothers me the most is that i need have 100500 launchers/programms to play those games + install game + which will be further affected by additional drm mechanism like denuvo ... such a waste for me resources
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#5
bajs11
Schrodinger's Bodybag, post: 3984361, member: 159954"
Honestly, this keeps getting brought up so I'm just going to plop a copypasta every time I see this bigbadsteamisintroublenow circlejerk. I will say I would very much like to see Half Life 3 though.
I used Origin for a few years when I was playing ME3 and ME3 Multiplayer but I never really liked it even when they offered free games every now and then.
To me Origin is just a game launcher and not much more. I have made a few friends on there but we never communicated with each other and there are or at least were no way to share screenshots and publish artwork and stuff.
Steam on the other hand is more like Facebook for gamers but better.
I had the chance to use Uplay when I got some free games with purchase of a GPU a few years ago but I chose not to get the free games because back then Uplay sucked even more than Origin.

I don't get why so many people here dislike Steam so much because the platform itself is way better for gamers than any of its competitors. Well maybe the haters are game developers who feel like that Steam has been ripping them off or something
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#6
Ferrum Master
I always joke that HL3 is one of the signs before an apocalypse :D

If it happens, brace yourselves.
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#7
TheOne
I worry that the next Half-Life will be a VR exclusive.
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#8
PanicLake
TheOne, post: 3984380, member: 83206"
I worry that the next Half-Life will be a VR exclusive.
Sure, if they want to shot themselves in the foot.
But when you just want to play a game, who really care about all those features? You probably already have your community, like in Discord, TeamSpeak or whatever. Sure, some are nice to have, but at the end when you just want to play a game...
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#9
nemesis.ie
Cloud saves is a 100% must have feature for me, any game/platform without that = no sale.
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#10
bug
This is no different from anything really.
As long as the entry barrier is high, there are only a handful of players in the market. When the barrier get lowered, many others enter, but the profits erode so it becomes much less attractive. Then comes stagnation.

As pointed above, competition is good, but having to install a dozen launchers for your collection isn't. While these guys compete on distribution, a common or web client is what's needed on users' desktops.
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#11
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
@btarunr I sure hope you're right that this will spur HL3 development. I really wouldn't bet on it, but it's plausible.

I think it was very short sighted and douchy of Valve to abandon the game in the first place. It would have made them a handsome profit, even if they make a lot more money off the Steam platform.
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#12
ShurikN
nemesis.ie, post: 3984388, member: 22637"
Cloud saves is a 100% must have feature for me, any game/platform without that = no sale.
Thousand times this.
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#13
windwhirl
I don't think Valve will develop HL3 just because Steam took a couple hits. Seems like too much of a reaction for what's currently going on.

Though I wouldn't mind all the memes about HL3 confirmed being finally put to rest.
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#14
Basard
GinoLatino, post: 3984386, member: 180136"
Sure, if they want to shot themselves in the foot.

But when you just want to play a game, who really care about all those features? You probably already have your community, like in Discord, TeamSpeak or whatever. Sure, some are nice to have, but at the end when you just want to play a game...
When you want to play a game AND your internet is down, good luck playing it on Epic. I just realized this morning, with my internet down for almost an HOUR (gasp!) that Epic doesn't have an offline mode.

EDIT: Apparently we can just run the .exe file and load a game with Epic. Found that in a forum somewhere just now. Which I could have done If I had the internet. Lol...
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#15
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
windwhirl, post: 3984404, member: 175818"
I don't think Valve will develop HL3 just because Steam took a couple hits. Seems like too much of a reaction for what's currently going on.

Though I wouldn't mind all the memes about HL3 confirmed being finally put to rest.
Or if someone else could just buy the IP and make the game once and for all. No HL3 is the biggest gaming frustration of all time for me. To put this in perspective, I often don't finish a game campaign as I lose interest halfway through, but with HL2, I did the whole thing three times over a couple of years. It was that good. I played the episodes too of course, complete with that damned cliffhanger on the last episode. How does it end???
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#16
MyTechAddiction
Well no, HL3 will never appear due to competing online game stores. Lets face it valve software is no longer a game maker.They could reduce their margin(a bad idea),expand to music, videos( they already deliver videos for game presentations), or make a more determined push into hardware( 3d,controllers, steam branded pc),or they could just open their wallets and buy game developers( and their stores) especially after they made a flop that puts them in financial troubles.Steam is not in trouble.
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#17
atomicus
Personally, I'd rather not see HL3 be developed and released purely as a means by which to bolster Valve's bottom line by tens of millions of dollars (which it surely would). It deserves better than that.
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#18
Robcostyle
Well, maybe there is something about all this. At least, recent RE2 revived my faith in pc gaming a little bit - a great piece of artwork.
Maybe, there’s hl3 somewhere nearby? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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#19
Chloe Price
Never played HL games more than few minutes, so I wouldn't care less if HL3 cames out some day.

But Steam is still the best platform, and will probably always be.
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#20
bug
Chloe Price, post: 3984462, member: 123719"
Never played HL games more than few minutes, so I wouldn't care less if HL3 cames out some day.

But Steam is still the best platform, and will probably always be.
The first one was amazing at its time. Neat AI plus some brilliant level design. The second one, imho just rode on the first one's laurels.
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#21
phanbuey
Why does the developer care? Why not just sell the game for $40 and the markup is $5 on steam and $2 on Epic then let it be - let people decide where they want to buy the game...
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#22
hat
Enthusiast
phanbuey, post: 3984485, member: 45008"
Why does the developer care? Why not just sell the game for $40 and the markup is $5 on steam and $2 on Epic then let it be - let people decide where they want to buy the game...
Same reason you have exclusive titles released on Playstation and Xbox, I guess. It's about market share and deals that come with being an exclusive partner. Steam is going to have to fight back in order to gain the interest of developers again.
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#23
Gasaraki
GinoLatino, post: 3984386, member: 180136"
Sure, if they want to shot themselves in the foot.

But when you just want to play a game, who really care about all those features? You probably already have your community, like in Discord, TeamSpeak or whatever. Sure, some are nice to have, but at the end when you just want to play a game...
I'm sorry but most people use some of those features. Cloud saves? A must for a online store/launcher. Family share is very nice. Wish lists, reviews all very useful stuff.
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#24
Metroid
Steam has been pretty good to me, I only used origin for one game so far. I like seeing final fantasy xv on steam and such games which were exclusive to consoles and now steam is welcoming them, game developers leaving means they are no happy so valve should at least update its pricing to reflect competition.
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#25
yakk
Always good to have an ace or two up your sleeve.
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