Notch calls out EA over its Indie Bundle on Steam

Thursday, 3rd May 2012 13:41 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Mojang boss Markus Persson doesn’t seem too impressed with EA’s Indie Bundle currently available on Steam, and has taken to Twitter to call the firm out for using the term indie to describe its game pack.

“EA releases an ‘indie bundle’? That’s not how that works, EA,” he said. “Stop attempting to ruin everything, you bunch of cynical bastards. I don’t even call Mojang indie any more.

“Vlambeer is indie. Polytron is indie. Stephen, Ed, Terry, Derek, Tommy and Chris are indie. Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it.”

The bundle in question popped up on Steam yesterday and includes the titles Shank, Shank 2, Deathspank, Deathspank: Thongs Of Virtue, Warp and Gatling Gears – all of which were published by EA.

The studios which developed the titles in the bundle – Klei Entertainment, HotHead Games, Trapdoor Inc, and Vanguard Games – are not owned by EA and all were originally released online through PC, PSN, and XBLA.

Thanks, Develop .



  1. viralshag

    I don’t get it… what’s the difference between an EA “indie” bundle and say, a Steam sale indie bundle?

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Yoshi

    ‘EA Indie bundle’ = EA has published all of those games.
    ‘Steam sale indie bundle’ = Just a collection of actual indie games on Steam in a sale.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Strawb

    @1: I’m guessing his definition of indie is that everything is done by the developer. Development, distribution, marketing(if any), and so on. All the games currently being sold as a bundle on Steam are published by EA, which, by his definition, means they’re not indie games. EA simply slaps on the adjective, hoping to get some more sales.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. hives

    Shank isn’t indie game, Deathspank isn’t indie game. Some developers think that if they make ~20$ game it’s automatically “indie”, even if the biggest publisher is behind them…

    #4 3 years ago
  5. viralshag

    Ok, thanks.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Fin


    Actually, both those games are indie. The developers are not owned by anyone, and are therefore indie.
    Valve is an indie developer, as an example.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Phoenixblight


    All those games are made by an indie developer that has gained money from EA so its as right as the other games that were in other indie bundles. No one has clearly defined what is considered indie is that just a developer that has no publisher? Well in that case Valve, Double fine, Bioware, etc were never really indies. Notch clearly thinks indies are just developers with no publishing backing which is a pretty one sided view and not completely true.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Strawb

    @6: Deathspank and Shank were both published by EA. That puts them outside the indie realm, I’d say.

    As for Valve, it’s true that Valve isn’t backed by any companies, but considering how massive Valve is, it’s hard to call them “indie”, apart from the literary sense of the word.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DSB

    Independent company = Indie.

    Notch is definitely too big for his britches on this one. Not everybody can publish their own game and make millions, even if that might make them more indie in terms of popularity.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. viralshag

    Ok, I’m glad people are on the same wavelength as me which is why I questioned what the difference was. What he said just seemed a little off.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Fin


    Nah, just because they were published by EA doesn’t stop them being indie. Super Meat Boy was published by Microsoft, does that mean they’re not indie?

    I agree Notch is being a tool on this. Indie is indie, that doesn’t change because of their affiliations.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. WFMMK

    @11 Finally someone who can see this guy for what he is.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. TheWulf

    My amusement over this is still that they’re having this sale bundle on Steam but not on Origin. Are some of the execs at EA realising that Origin was a fairly dumb idea and feeling that it’s going to flop, thus not bothering with sales for it?

    Regardless, it’s kind of funny. It’s also a double-standard considering how EA pulled games off of Steam.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. OlderGamer

    In my mind indie = independant from influence of a big money publisher.

    Some of you guys would define almost anything as indie, as many games are made by independantly owned studios/dev teams, and then they pitch their ideas/alphas/prebuilds to a pubs for funding.

    Thats not Indie in my book.

    Story boarding Deathspank to EA is not indie. Its what happens if you want to make… what are we on three of them now? Thats just one accepted and established path to publishing.

    Now I am not one of those guys that cares too much about selling out or any of that stuff. After all what Indie studio wouldn’t enjoy a three or four game deal with EA? But once they are a part of EAs stable(long binding contract or not) they are no longer completly indie.

    And that is why in my mind inde = free from money influence publisher. You could even say self publishing.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. DSB

    @14 So what would you call them?

    I see your point, but ultimately these developers are greatly distinguished from publisher or hedgefund-owned developers, in that they have choice.

    There’s no choice when you’re owned by someone else, unless you’re Ken Levine and you have executives wrapped around your pinky.

    They are independent developers, and they can choose what to make and where to sign.

    They might be under pressure to pay the rent, and that might shine through with a few of them, but I think it’s pretty clear with developers like Gearbox or CD Projekt Red, that they haven’t been forced to compromise very much of their vision to the whims of an empty suit.

    And when it comes to that, all indies are under the gun when it comes to paying their bills. You can’t say that a small indie is less dependent on paying for his apartment and his family than the head of a bigger independent studio.

    The biggest difference is where they find that money.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. OlderGamer

    “@14 So what would you call them?”

    Games. Sometimes things don’t need a label.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. DSB

    @16 That’s not a cop out to you? :P

    If you say they aren’t indies, and it’s pretty obvious that they have far more options and total self-determination, in contrast to a publisher owned developer that has neither, then I’d say it falls to you to make up a new word for it.

    Calling them nothings isn’t good enough.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. TheWulf

    I think that there needs to be an established and respected term for creator-lead, small development houses, where the publisher can’t dictate to them what they’re allowed to make or how they can do it. That’s what the guys in this bundle are. On a technicality, they’re not indie, and we all know that OlderGamer is right about this. But what makes is sad is that we lack a term to distinguish them from marketing-led games like … well, Call of Duty.

    I mean, they’re obviously not the same as Call of Duty, and they deserve respect for that. These games are still something that a creator-lead and small dev team wanted to do. In a lot of ways they do share SOME similarities with indies in that they’re not letting the publishers take control. This is why I spread my respect around both indies and small development houses which do receive outside funding. I think that all of the games of this bundle are of the latter category.

    But like I said, I respect both equally.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. DSB

    “On a technicality, they’re not indie, and we all know that OlderGamer is right about this.”

    I think it’s pretty obvious that we don’t. I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s widely contested.

    “Technically, I don’t think they’re indie, and I think that OlderGamer is right about this.”

    That’s pretty much how it would look if you weren’t delusional.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Stardog

    @6, @9 “Independent company = Indie.”

    Not true. The word “indie” has all sorts of connotations that “independent” doesn’t.

    Valve are indpendent, not indie. When someone says “I like indie games”, they’re not talking about Portal 2…

    It’s about gaming culture, not the dictionary definitions.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Phoenixblight


    That is subjective and when I say I play indie games that means I play games that are developed by a studio not owned by a publisher or console manufacturer. So yes Portal 2 would be included. No one can clearly define what a indie means not even Notch and him giving advice on what is destroying the industry might as well be a lottery winner explaining how to make money.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. DSB

    @20 That was probably too simple, but I do think it’s generally accurate.

    I see why you define it like that, but I don’t see the sense in it.

    Once something becomes popular or a certain size, the fact that it’s independent means less. Why? Where is the bar, the set amount of employees or revenue that you can enjoy, before you lose the right to call yourself indie?

    There’s no real basis for that argument beyond petty snobbery, of the kind that you find everywhere else.

    “Gaming culture” in itself is totally subjective, and if isn’t subjective, then it’s at best a vague idea shared by a bunch of people whose only qualification is the fact that they agree with eachother, same as you know, “the CoD sheeple” or whatever those guys drop their Cabernet to scoff at.

    I simply don’t buy it. Being more popular, or more relatable doesn’t make you less independent.

    The argument I think is actually worth discussing, is whether indie should refer to an independent developer making their own choices, including their choice to use the resources of a second party, or whether it should refer to a developer who conducts every aspect of their business themselves.

    And if the latter is true, then obviously you can’t be indie and be on Steam at the same time. Steam takes 15-30% of the cut, and handles your business and delivery for you.

    What about Plimus, they do the same thing Steam does. That obviously means that two-man operation Wadjet Eye Games and the developers of To The Moon are off the list of indies.

    What about Paypal, Google Checkout and Kickstarter? All take a cut, all provide a service. Can you use those, or are you not independent once you do?

    #22 3 years ago
  23. yoggesothothe

    I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Fez. You know, the same Fez that’s won dozens of awards from indie festivals like IGF and IndieCade. The same Fez that’s published by Microsoft.

    So, what’s indie again?

    #23 3 years ago
  24. OlderGamer

    Did MS publish Fez on Steam? Or was it like Minecraft, where MS makes sure the big named indie game gets on their platform. Is that even the same? So many blury lines, like I said best to just call em games. But I totaly understand the urge to indentify them from other games.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. Phoenixblight


    Fez is indeed published by MS which smacks Notch remark down to the ground. So its ok with MS to publish Fez but its not ok for EA to do it. Uh huh alright, Notch.

    #25 3 years ago
  26. OlderGamer

    @PB Gotcha

    #26 3 years ago
  27. Garo

    Well, in other indie bundles I have seen you have the option to put the prices and you can even give all to charity if you want. But this is not the case on “EA’s indie bundle”, so I’m with Notch on this one, EA is using the name to make some extra bucks. I admit my growing dislike towards EA, and the way they make me feel, that all they want is to squeeze me out of every last cent they can, is influencing my point of view here.

    #27 3 years ago
  28. DSB

    @27 That’s just two different business models.

    There’s no law saying that everything has to be pay-what-you-want. Most of the indies in those bundles are already sold through Steam, part of other bundles, that are also sold for a set price.

    Why wouldn’t they?

    If you want a game early, you can pay full price. 10 bucks. If you wait for the bundle, you wait, but you may only pay a dollar a piece.

    There’s a big difference between getting 10 bucks per copy (minus the Steam cut) and 20.000 dollars from 20.000 copies from the side of the developers.

    I think the bundles are getting a little worrying, because they seem to be raking in less and less. It could end up being a case of the snake eating its own tail to fill its belly.

    #28 3 years ago
  29. Garo

    @28 DSB I’m not saying it’s the law, I’m just comparing to other indie bundles I have seen and mentioning the fact that EA is leveraging the name “indie bundles” to make some extra bucks and that’s what I get from Notch’s comment.
    But yes, this is EA’s marketing if you want to buy the bundle it’s ok and it will be cheaper.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. Cobra951

    #27, *growing* dislike for EA? Man, that should have blossomed into full-grown contempt long ago.

    It’s a barefaced lie, pure and simple. There’s no law against this kind of lie, so they’ll use it to their commercial advantage. EA in a nutshell. End of story.

    #30 3 years ago
  31. Christopher Jack

    I don’t get this elitist view indies & their users have, essentially like small business owners. Yes they’re something different from the typical mainstream stuff but so what? I’d understand his cynicism if EA had grouped Insomniac’s, Bungie’s & Respawn’s future games into an ‘indie’ bundle, but that’s clearly not the case.

    #31 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.