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Welcome to my Steam Blog, posted by Kevin Lew

Hi, I’m Kev.  I write Steam Blogs (Slogs)–that is, posts on my Steam page normally.  If you’re a Friend on Steam, then you can see see my posts on my Activity page.  If you’re not one of my Friends, then I suspect that this post must be very confusing and strange.

I wanted to have a more permanent location since my slogs eventually get deleted after a week or so.  I’m trying to become a journalista…  It’s the best kind of reporter.  It’s video game journalism.  One day I hope to become a Real Journalist, meaning that I can get a job doing this kind of blathering.  But in the meantime, here’s my slog.

I’m going to write mostly about PC gaming, especially if it somehow ties into Steam.  The only thing that I need help with is a name for this column.  With so many fan blogs already, I didn’t want something obvious like “The Boiler Room”.  I hope that I don’t get stuck with Kev’s Slog.  Write your comments below if you have ideas.

Here’s my first story.  Tell me what you think about it, even if you dislike it.


Garry Newman is the creator of Garry’s Mod.  Prior to his creation, players had to use the Hammer editor for the Source engine.  For those that haven’t seen Hammer, it is like trying to program a game by looking at an Excel spreadsheet.  It is complicated, confusing, and awful.

When Garry’s Mod was first released, it was a real Source mod and it was given away for free.  As the popularity improved, Garry figured that he would improve it to the point where it could be a legitimate standalone product.  He estimated that it would sell maybe a few thousand copies.

Nine years later, Garry’s Mod has sold over 3.5 million copies and has generated roughly $22 million in total revenue.  But he insists that he’s not insanely wealthy.  Valve takes approximately half of it in his contract, and income taxes take at least half of the remainder–remember that he’s a British citizen.  Also, Garry’s Mod is now run by about 15 people so the money gets divided further.

Garry’s new project is the Early Access game called Rust.  When it was launching, Garry told media that Rust would never be as big as Garry’s Mod, and trying to outperform it was just ridiculous and impossible.  But last week, Rust was the #1 best selling game on Steam for one hour.  This is like saying that you’re the best-selling PC game on the planet–well, for one hour.  He’s now reporting that in one month, Rust earned approximately $11 million in sales.  But this time he’s not splitting half of it with Valve.


One person wrote on Rock Paper Shotgun that he wouldn’t buy Rust.  It wasn’t that he didn’t like the game or he didn’t like Garry Newman, but he didn’t like the trend that he was seeing with modern game development.  With AAA publishers, their trick now is to get you to buy preorders and Season Pass DLC.  In the end, you’re paying money for games that you can’t play or see.  While this has been blasted by critics, he noted that indie developers are doing the exact same thing.  Their methods are just more subtle, and they use Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Early Access on Steam.

The problem is that, in the end, fans are giving money to developers in advance before any product is made.  In effect, there is zero incentive to make a good game or have any financial responsibility.  There’s been some instances of broken dreams in gaming.

22 Cans’s Godus is one example.  Despite that the Kickstarter never said it outright, fans wanted to believe that it was a spiritual sequel to Black and White or Populous.  In reality, Godus is none of these games and it resembles a free-to-play mobile game.  The game is still going through changes, but it’s clear that the game would almost need a complete overhaul before it would be called “good” compared to other indie game titles.

There’s several games with financial problems even after a successful Kickstarter campaign.  Double Fine’s Broken Age is one key example.  Double Fine got $3 million in the end, far more than what they really asked for in the beginning.  But after poor planning and ballooning expenses, Double Fine spent all of the money in just 18 months.  Had it been another developer, they probably would have had to cancel the game.  To get more development money, the game was put on Steam Early Access.

Now the argument isn’t that Early Access is a bad thing.  In fact, just about all of the developers on it are really trying to do the right thing.  But the point is that there’s no regulation at all, and it’s a matter of time before somebody abuses it.  The writer suggested that Steam needs to put in an agreement that the games must confirm to some kind of standard before the developer can just slap the word “done” on it and walk away.  Another writer mentioned that some “finished” games are sometimes worse than games in Early Access.  Valve is in desperate need of some definitions of what a “complete” game is and isn’t.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.  Garry Newman responded to the RPS comment, and he said that he actually agreed with just about everything he said.  Early Access means caveat emptor, despite that this isn’t very clearly stated sometimes.  However, he defended Rust as trustworthy.  Garry’s Mod has had numerous updates and improvements over the nine years for free, and he wants to do the same for his new game.

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