Mulitple indie developers are upset at the lack of a Steam Black Lives Matter statement, so much so that they've made the decision to remove their games from Valve's digital distribution platform entirely.
"I put in a help request to remove my paid games earlier this week as well. Steam is nothing without our games," stated Ghost Time Games' Gabriel Koenig on Twitter. "We have the power to demand change. Dev friends, consider using your voice. Steam will not be getting any more money from me."
"Giving up @Steam was not a decision I took lightly," Koenig continued. "I've been making ~$1000 a month in sales lately, and leaving that behind made me feel uncomfortable. But if I continued to profit from their store I'd be complicit with their silence on hate. Happy to discuss. #indiedev""
Indies Moving Elsewhere
Ghost Time Games wasn't the only developer to request that its titles are removed from Steam. We've reached out to multiple developers on the subject, and one of them took the time to respond to us.
"[This] is bigger than whether or not [Steam] puts out a press release in favor of [Black Lives Matter] (which they should, and I would consider [that] the bare [minimum])-- it's more about the toxic culture on Steam in general," stated another developer who requested to remain anonymous. "Anyone who has spent any time there knows that it's not a welcoming place for indie developers, especially women and POC. Valve is free to run their company any way they want but I'd rather move my games and energy over to itch.io which is a more welcoming community and is more in line with my values."
The preference for itch.io was also echoed by Ghost Time Games. itch.io has been vocal on the subject of Black Lives Matter, creating a massive bundle with over 1,000 items that can be purchased for a minimum donation of $5 and has now raised over $5m.
"Currently @itchio seems to be leading the charge as an ethical and responsible marketplace that is also very dev-friendly," Ghost Time Games' Gabriel Koenig said in a follow-up tweet. "My game Jettomero is available in a variety of different places, but Test Tube Titans will be on the [lookout] for new homes now too."
Ghost Time Games was also one of the developers who provided us with a statement on the matter of the Steam Black Lives Matter issue.
I remember checking Steam's twitter on June 1st, the day that everyone was showing solidarity for BLM, and it was extremely telling that their only post to their 5.4 million followers was about a sale on a game called Gunsmith.
If we've learned anything from video games over the last decade it's that there's an extremely toxic community out there, which seems to be fostering the conversion of the average edge lord into literal nazis. More than ever, our industry needs to be vigil and combat this behaviour, ensuring they don't have a voice in any of our spaces. For Steam to ignore that is the ultimate banal evil.
I'm in the privileged position of being able to survive the hit financially, and I realize it's not necessarily something every studio can afford to do right now, but it's my hope that more developers will voice their concerns to Steam, while either withdrawing existing games, or simply choosing not to publish new games on the platform.
Before launching my latest game near the start of the year, I had reached out to Steam asking whether there was a way to just donate all revenue from the game towards charities, because I'd be willing to give up my 70% if they'd throw in their 30% too. They replied to say no, they didn't have anything set up for that kind of thing. Now look at what itch.io is doing with their charity bundle. Steam clearly has the ability to make a positive difference in the world and they do absolutely nothing. Developers and gamers both deserve better.
Valve is not the only company to face a backlash for its silence on the Black Lives Matters movement; a number of prominent developers pulled out of the Origins Online event, an online-only tabletop gaming event. Origins Online was eventually canceled as the organization behind it felt it would be inappropriate to hold the event during this time. On a related subject, The Steam Game Festival was also pushed back a week; it will now start on June 16, 2020.
We've reached out to Valve for comment on this matter and will update this article when we receive a reply.
You can read TechRaptor's official stance on the recent protests, what we're doing to help, and how you can get involved here.
What do you think of the lack of a Steam Black Lives Matter statement? Has the lack of or inclusion of support on the movement informed your purchasing decisions? Let us know in the comments below!