Seven years after I wrote A Weaponized Machine about the indie scene snapping in twain over the proposed $100 fee to access Greenlight, it's Groundhog Day again. Steam are finally jettisoning Greenlight into the yellow light of the sun, like Teh Gabe promised a while back, and will be allowing developers to upload games directly into the heart of Steam with a service called Steam Direct. All that crowdsourcing bollocks is out the window.
But worries about FAKE GAMES and Steam's reputation persist and so instead of the $100 access fee for Greenlight there will now be... ta da an as-yet-undetermined publishing fee. And thus the indie "community" is once again at each other’s throats.
Last time this happened, I got rather sentimental about the passing of an indie golden age, with all its group hugs, hippie values and shit like that. Can’t get sentimental about what never came back, so what can I add to the conversation this time?
I can rant.
Too long have we suffered at the hands of BROKEN algorithms.
There is a chance today to return to that Golden Age where no one talked about "discovery".
Too long have our digital streets have been SWAMPED with shovelware.
There is a chance today to drain that swamp.
Too long have storefronts seduced the weak with beautiful screenshots of MINDLESS walking simulators.
There is a chance to put interactivity back in its rightful place - in GAMES.
But collaborations like Sportsfriends are rare. What became the norm was the industrialised bundle, which allows customers to pay for several games at a price of their choosing. This became so successful that AAA publishers began to get involved; the Humble Bundle which championed the concept for indie games in 2010 began to take on AAA bundles in 2012. The bundle became a permanent feature of the market, like the discount. The blunt truth is that the bundle was just another vector for game prices to slip to zero. Their innovation for consolidating customer attention became an innovation for reducing the effective price to sub-dollar levels.
RPS has published an excerpt from The Death of Ideas, the second chapter of the book. More precisely, the section titled Is Resistance Futile was converted into a standalone piece. I imagine if you've visited these parts recently, you've probably already read this. Don't worry, nothing extra has been added. The article is called The Fallen Price of Indie Games.
The first couple of chapters have also been updated. No major changes, but I'd dare say if you took another run at the chapter you would notice a difference.
I've made the fatal mistake of committing a ton of changes in the hours before final publication. Which probably means there'll be a flurry of error corrections over the next week. Oh well, I'm only human.
And other news: I am a finalist for New York Game Critics' Circle Game Journalism Award.
(Sorry this is so brief but I'm utterly spent!)
Update 20 Jan: David Wolinsky won the award, who has been writing a long-running series of longform interviews.
The Unbearable Now received lots of attention after Austin Walker published an article about it on Waypoint. It's reeled in a few more thousand views since.