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Steam Direct高额提交费对独立开发者的威胁

发布时间:2017-02-17 09:31:14 Tags:,,,

作者:Nathan Bennett

最近Steam公开了一个全新系统去取代Steam Greenlight:即Steam Direct。其目标是解决之前系统中所存在的一些弊端。必须承认的是,greenlight拥有一些质量较低的资产并迫切需要进行翻修或取代,而关于Steam的这一公告我最关心的则是提交费。

他们声称新系统的费用高达5000美元。不过这还不是最终报价。Steam表示最终价格还是待定。5000美元只是他们的最高估价。以下是来自他们声明中的内容:

“尽管我们投入了许多到我们的内容流水线和个性化商店中,但是对于Steam Direct的费用我们也仍在协商中。我们与多个开发者和工作室就最佳定价问题进行了讨论,他们也提供了100美元至5000美元不等的回应。但是不管是最低价格还是最高价格都存在一些利弊,所以我们在做出最后决定前会尽量去收集更多反馈。“

但问题还是存在着,如果价格偏高,无数独立开发者便只能望而却步。对于高价的主要问题是:高质量的独立游戏必须创造出超过5000美元的收益才能负担起这样的费用。但高质量并不总是等同于高收益,就像《战团》。其次,利润也不是开发者创造一款游戏的唯一目标,有些开发者希望的是尽可能向更多玩家传递他们所创造的游戏体验,而非纯粹去赚钱。就像许多单机模组的创造者那样。

一般说来独立游戏开发都是一项很难赚钱的业务。很有可能一家工作室发行的前几款游戏都是赚不到钱的。虽然高质量的游戏内容能够减少一定的风险。Steam上拥有少量玩家基础的高质量游戏比比皆是。但这些游戏存在的目的便是去证实一家工作室拥有创造并吸引忠实粉丝的能力,不管他们一开始有多小。但是如果准入费用过高,刚起步的工作室便很难为之后的腾飞奠定基础。

Greenlight(from joyme)

Greenlight(from joyme)

现在的greenlight还有一个很好的作用,即它能为开发者进行广告宣传与判断玩家兴趣提供低成本的解决方法。这对于独立开发者来说是非常有价值的。

虽然Steam声称该费用是”可补偿的“,但是他们的说法非常含糊。这种补偿是否是说开发者可以通过促销赚到更多钱还是Steam会在开发者通过门槛后放弃抽成?这是需要说清楚的。说实话,独立开发者说面对的补偿费用正不断减少。开发者们已经和门店,发行商和众筹网站开战去争取公平的利润,如果他们能够保留游戏收益的50%便要谢天谢地了。而高准入费也让发行商拥有另一个获取游戏20%至40%收益的借口。

盗版件便很赚钱的。这也是为什么我们经常会看到它的原因。有名的公司通常不会担心5000美元的准入费,但那些还在努力中的独立开发者却不同。独立游戏开发的精神是独创性,而独创性往往带有很大的风险。我们不应该提高风险去扼杀这种创造性。这是一个非常不稳定的产业,甚至连久经沙场的华尔街商人对于资助一款游戏的决定也会再三斟酌。

而对于来自美国的一人的工作室,5000美元足以支撑3至6个月的游戏开发。5000美元足以创造一首绝妙的配乐或出色的图像。5000美元可以购买授权,框架和资产去提高产品质量。所以,虽然开发者可以通过Kickstarter筹集到资金,但是他们更希望将这笔资金用于创造更出色的游戏而非作为入门费。

关于高申请费用的另一个问题是,游戏开发是一个全球性市场。这是一个充满多样性的产业,开发团队成员来自世界各地,且创造着非常棒的内容。但是四位数的申请费用却会在无意中影响到其它国家的独立游戏发行。在美国和加拿大,这一高额申请费对于初创开发者来说已经是个巨大问题了,但是在其它的一些国家,这更是难以逾越的高山。

例如来自拉脱维亚的Ed便跟我说,他每个月税前的最低薪资是370欧元。他希望能在Steam上发行游戏,但在听到Steam的新闻后却开始却步了。或许他应该选择手机平台,但是那里实在太过拥挤了。Suji是来自克罗地亚的业余开发者。从去年开始他便一直致力于创造《黑山:起源》的模组中并希望能在Steam上免费发行游戏。但是上千的提交费用对他来说太吓人啦,这比他的日常生活费用还高。

甚至在主要出口电子游戏的国家,高额提交费也是很大的问题所在。来自美国东海岸的Leo表示找工作是一件很难的事。虽然他现在很幸运地拥有一份工作,并一天工作12个小时。他每个月努力省下80%的工资让自己能够致力于18个月的全职独立开发。而这惊人的提交费可能会让他的辛苦所得白费。Leo估计自己需要完整的18个月时间去创造能够呈现在投资者面前或进行early access的内容,但如果提交费如此之高,他便没有足够的时间。

对于像这样的开发者,高额提交费将阻挡他们在Steam上发行游戏的道路,并不利于游戏开发的全球多样性发展。即使是对于那些能够负担得起这一费用的开发者,他们最终的产品也会受到影响。作为一名游戏玩家,我很担心自己最喜欢的平台将不再吸引那些具有创造性的独立开发者,而作为一名开发者,我也很怕看到自己和其他开发者所面对的机遇被打碎。Valve已经创造出了一些非常优秀的独立游戏以及最受欢迎的PC游戏平台。所以我相信他们能够找出有关这一问题的更好的解决方法。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转发,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

The Steam Direct Application Fee: A Threat to Indie Developers

by Nathan Bennett

Today Steam announced a new system to replace Steam Greenlight: Steam Direct. The goal is to provide a superior alternative to greenlight that works out some of the kinks in the system. I concede that greenlight is filled with low-quality asset flips and severely needs a rehaul or replacement but something in this announcement gravely concerned me: the application fee.

The fee was stated to be up to $5,000. To be clear, nothing is set in stone yet. Steam has proposed these numbers as TBD. $5,000 is their maximum estimate. Here is the direct quote from the post:

“While we have invested heavily in our content pipeline and personalized store, we’re still debating the publishing fee for Steam Direct. We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000. There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.”

But the concern remains; seeing a number anywhere near that high is terrifying for thousands of indie developers. The primary argument for a high fee is this: quality indie games should be making a lot more than $5k so a fee that high shouldn’t be a problem. But quality does not instantly equate to profitability, look at the case of Brigador. Secondly, profitability is not the only goal of putting out a game, some developers want to deliver an experience to as many people as possible rather than establish a profit. This is popular in standalone mods.

Indie game development is a generally unprofitable expenditure. It’s highly likely that the first few releases from a studio will be overall unprofitable, and while higher quality will drastically reduce this risk, it is still a very real possibility. There is no shortage of overwhelmingly positive games on steam with a negligible player base. But these games serve a purpose, they demonstrate a studio’s ability to create and attract a loyal following, no matter how small it starts. With a high entrance fee, fledgling studios will not be able to lay the groundwork to reach critical mass.

In its current state, as flawed as it is, greenlight still manages to serve one purpose really well. It provides a low-cost solution for advertising and gauging player-interest. This tool is immensely valuable to independent developers and helped generate over $100 million in revenue as the article itself noted.

Steam claims that the fee will be “recoupable”, but it does so in very vague terms. Is it recoupable in the sense that developers have the potential to make more money from sales or that steam will waive their usual cut until that threshold is crossed? This needs to be clarified. What is recoupable for independent developers is constantly diminishing. Developers are already waging a war against storefronts, publishers, and crowdfunding sites to retain a fair percentage of profits, and are very lucky if they are able to keep 50% of what the game makes. A high entrance fee gives publishers another excuse to take another 20-40% of revenues.

Shovelware is already frequently profitable. That’s why we see so much of it. The more notorious companies won’t have an issue paying $5,000, but the struggling indie developer will. The soul of the independent game is originality, and with originality comes huge risk. We shouldn’t stifle creativity by making that risk even higher. This industry is so volatile that even the most hardened wall-street broker would be cautious taking out a loan out to fund a game.

For a one-man-studio $5k can be enough to fuel anywhere from 3-6 months of development time in the US. $5k is enough to commission a killer soundtrack or breathtaking graphics. $5k can buy licenses, frameworks, and assets to drastically increase production quality. So yes, the money can be gained from a Kickstarter, but that money should be used to create better games, not get through gatekeepers.

There is another complication with a high submission fee that I am particularly worried about. Game development is one of the most global markets there is. There is a beauty in the diversity of the industry and it is inspiring to see teams who never meet each other face-to-face create awesome stuff. A fee that is even on the low end of four figures will inadvertently hurt indie game releases in other countries. In the US or Canada, these high fees will be a huge issue for startup devs, but in some countries, they are impossible hurdles.

Take Ed from Latvia. He tells me the monthly minimum wage is 370 Euros before taxes. He was hoping to publish on Steam eventually but is unsure with today’s news. Instead, he may have to start on mobile platforms, where it is even harder for quality content to stand out. Suji is a hobbyist developer from Croatia passionate about game development. He has been working on a mod for Black Mesa in source engine since last year and is hoping to release it for free on Steam. Submission fees in the thousands is a surreal amount of money for him, more than he’s spent on anything in his life.

Even in countries that are the biggest exporters of video games this is problematic. Leo from the US East Coast has a condition that makes finding a job difficult. He was lucky to find one and now works a numbing 12 hours a day. He’s been saving 80% of his monthly income after rent to stockpile enough savings to work on his indie game full-time for 18 months. An egregious fee would deeply cut into that time. Leo estimates he needs the full 18 months to create a product he is able to show for crowdfunding or early-access, but if the fee is prohibitively high, he may not have enough time.

For developers like these, a high fee will make publishing to steam almost impossible, stifling the diverse global nature of game development. Even for the developers who can afford it, the end product will suffer. As a gamer it worries me that my favorite platform may no longer be home to innovative and obscure indie games and as a developer, it’s disheartening to see an opportunity becoming significantly more difficult to achieve for me and thousands of others. Valve has made some of the best video games of all time, and the most popular PC gaming platform by far. I know they can come up with a better solution to this than a paywall.(source:gamasutra

 


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