Valve – indies shouldn’t “split royalties with a publisher” and expect “automatic yes on Greenlight”

Saturday, 1st June 2013 22:15 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Valve has blocked Paranautical Activity from Code Avarice from being released on Steam, after the developer abandoned their Steam Greenlight submission for a publishing deal with Adult Swim.

According to the developers, Paranautical Activity was put on Steam Greenlight, hoping for approval for release; however, the firm was contacted by Adult Swim which wished to publish the game for the studio on Steam.

The studio then ran into a roadblock when Valve blocked the release on Steam. The team is now trying to get the game’s campaign on Greenlight back on track.

Valve’s Doug Lombardi said the game wasn’t giving release approval on Steam because the firm didn’t “want to send the message that indies can seek out publishers to bypass Steam Greenlight.”

“We review Greenlight votes, reviews, and a variety of factors in the Greenlight process,” said Lombardi to PCgamesN. “However our message to indies regarding publishers is do it for your own reasons, but do not split your royalties with a publisher expecting an automatic ‘Yes’ on Greenlight.”

Code Avarice noted it was hard for new indie developers to get their Greenlight campaigns noticed on the site with so many other offerings available.

A video for the game is below.



  1. Ireland Michael

    They seems incredibly petty.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. SplatteredHouse

    “they wanted to make sure they were set to begin the Greenlight process to get their game on Steam early in the game’s life.

    Then Adult Swim decided they wanted to publish the game”

    The above quote (from PAR) suggests to me that there wasn’t a plan to put the Greenlight up with a predetermined intent to get the publisher in to fast-track onto Steam – It sounds more like the developer put their game up ready to start angling for voting, and then Adult Swim took a liking to the game (I believe it had enjoyed exposure outside of that process, beforehand) and offered to publish straight onto the Steam service – but the Greenlight pending scuppered things once Valve checked approval to Steam publish, and they wanted to avoid the association mentioned.

    I could be reading things wrong, though, and there actually was a concerted effort to jump the queue? I’m not sure the article title is painting an accurate picture of events.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Stephany Nunneley

    I am just using the quote.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. SplatteredHouse

    Valve are the ones at fault, then, unless you believe there was a concerted effort to skip Greenlight, on the part of the developer through publisher involvement.
    “the firm didn’t “want to send the message that indies can seek out publishers to bypass Steam Greenlight.””

    But…That didn’t take place, here! Again, unless I’ve misread something – and yet, these guys are now stuck waiting for the thumbs at the Colosseum…

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Stephany Nunneley

    I have no idea who is right or who is wrong. I am just a fembot. :P

    #5 2 years ago
  6. SplatteredHouse

    I’m not trying to shoot the messenger :) Might it be worth your while to see if any clarification is forthcoming over the order of events from the people involved?

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Stephany Nunneley

    Mail sent. If I get a response from Doug before I return Tuesday I will forward it to Brenna or Dave. And yes, please don’t shoot me. :p

    #7 2 years ago
  8. nollie4545

    Green light should be entirely down to the users to give the yes or no, what happens to royalties beyond that is irrelevant. Obviously Valve would want some kind of payment for a developer to publish on their own online service.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. ps3fanboy

    steam gone nazi, i guess this is just the beginning of something worse…

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Jerykk

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t accurate. Logic Artists put Expeditions up on Greenlight, then signed a deal with bitComposer to distribute the game and now they’re officially on Steam. I find it odd that Valve would allow them to do this but not Code Avarice.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. TheWulf

    I’m with Valve here if they were doing that, sorry. The thing is is that Valve started Greenlight to get more indies onto Steam in a more timely fashion. This would allow publishers to prey on receptive indies and get a share of their profits to skip the Greenlight process.

    If you can understand what’s going on here — I’d say it’s fair to think that Valve is worried that they’ll send the right message by not taking action. “Oh, yes, you publishers should totally prey on indies in order to get them through Greenlight. That’s exactly the reason we put Greenlight together in the first place!

    Whether you agree with it or not, the course of action is correct. This sends an unmistakable message to publishers that if they prey on indies, they won’t profit from it.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. TheWulf

    @10: That may have been exactly why Valve have started putting their foot down about this. I mean, “SKIP GREENLIGHT!” is a very attractive proposition, and it allows gullible indies to be preyed upon.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. DSB

    I’m confused. What is actually going on here?

    If they’re signed with Adult Swim, can’t they just abandon their Greenlight campaign and let Adult Swim negotiate with Valve on their behalf? Publishers are there to get you published, right?

    It seems to me like these guys are going about it all wrong. Greenlight is obviously meant as an offer to true indies to publish themselves.

    As such, it would subvert the whole system if indies could just sign up with publishers to help put their campaign ahead of everybody else. Most devs wouldn’t be able to compete with that, and then instead of being about the best pitch, Greenlight becomes about who has the strongest patron and the biggest budget.

    @8 Right, but why would Valve care where the money goes? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Surely they have no interest in being the moral guardians of indies everywhere.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Cobra951

    My impression from the story (which is 100% of what I know about this incident) is that Valve got butthurt and pushed their weight around like a school bully.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Stardog

    Valve have been strangling PC gaming for years.

    Casual gamers see them as a PC gaming saviour. Real gamers know they’ve been hurting PC gaming by not opening up their platform.

    We could be seeing a boom comparable to mobile if they’d just open up.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. DrDamn

    If the Greenlight process isn’t working for a particular title but a publisher sees potential then why shouldn’t it work like this. Why is it a publisher preying on Indies and not a publisher saving a game from a Green Light process that isn’t working for them?

    #16 2 years ago
  17. FrankWhite

    @15 A boom comparable to mobile? Good god no thanks. You mean dozens and dozens of shovelware? All those crap clones of crap games? God no. Valve is great because it filters out the rubbish and the clones. Sorry, mobile might look appealing because there are hundreds of thousands of games available, but 99% of those games are rubbish and do nothing but obstruct the consumer’s ability to find good games.

    As for Steam strangling the PC platform. Why don’t you go back to 2005 and ask how badly the PC platform was being strangled. When every major game retailer stopped selling PC games because there was no re-sale value. Steam exists for a reason, because the rest of the game industry ABANDONED the PC, and created a gigantic VOID for Steam to fill, for both developers and consumers.

    No other company, not EA, Ubi, Activision, no one else would do for the PC platform what Steam did. Suffice to say, the PC platform is alive and well today very specifically because of Valve and Steam, not in spite of them.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. redwood

    hmmm I would agree with valve here, indies should focus on quality.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Jerykk

    Like I said before, I find this story highly dubious. Logic Artists did EXACTLY what these guys did. Put up a Greenlight entry, failed to get enough votes, signed up with a publisher and then bypassed Greenlight completely. If Valve didn’t want indies bypassing Greenlight, why would they make an exception for Logic Artists? Why would this even be an issue in the first place? The whole point of publishers is to either fund and/or distribute games from developers. Many indie devs use publishers for distribution. If a game has a publisher, Valve has no logical reason to reject it.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. nollie4545


    Could not agree more. The PC world was a very barren landscape for several years in the early 2000′s. Valve turned up and set a fire under it and catapulted PC gaming to the forefront. All major publishers and big names all but gave up on the PC because they could not corner the platform unlike the (then) advent of proper consoles from the usual suspects.

    Greenlight exists to benefit the indies and the gamers, whether Valve make much money out of it matters not. At least the dross is filtered out and in fairness to Valve, any title which doesn’t deliver what it promised is junked or murdered by the rating/comments section. Show me where they allow this on Xbox live?

    #20 2 years ago
  21. SplatteredHouse

    There’s an interview video with the developers that has been posted:
    See what you can get from it :)

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Old MacDonald

    What a dick move. Greenlight has been a complete disaster for indies, and as a result Microsoft is pretty much the only big company in the distribution arena that’s less friendly towards indies than Valve. And now they’re pulling this. Shameful.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. DSB

    Valve has been terrible at getting the message out lately, but I can’t think of any platform that has been better for indies than Steam. Sony seems to be coming around, but it doesn’t really compare.

    A developer like Introversion wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Steam.

    You’ve had metagames during massive sales benefitting otherwise insignificant indie titles, and the launch of Portal 2 was yet another one where Valve essentially decided to hand these devs a metric fucktonne of “free” sales.

    Greenlight could go either way, and Valve are screwing themselves PR wise, but I don’t see how a lot of the titles that have been greenlit so far would stand a chance without it.

    It’s arguably harder to pitch a title that doesn’t look like much and has an obscure pretense, to someone with a business/professional mindset, than it is to pitch it to ordinary people. At the very least I think it gives some devs a fighting chance where they never would’ve had one before.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Talkar

    So now Valve want to control how developers publish their games too? Jeez.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. 8thgen

    valve showing their true colors

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Rockin a Jack D

    Good on Valve. You want quality games, not quantity.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Talkar


    #27 2 years ago
  28. Rockin a Jack D


    1,376 players recommend that game to their friends. Obviously, you didn’t get the memo.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Talkar

    Apparently you didn’t either. That game is a running joke. At almost every sale you can get it next to nothing, so people buy it and gift it to their friends as sort of a cruel punishment, because after you’ve activated it, you’re stuck with it. And the game is so bad the even though you may have gotten it for free, you will never play it again. Also, 1.376 aren’t really a big number since several games have 35 times as many or more recommendations.

    #29 2 years ago

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