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In our last post talking about Albion Online coming to Steam, we talked about how odd it was that existing owners weren't getting Steam keys. The Albion team emailed us this morning to link us to some new information.

They sent us a link to this forum post from the Game Director, who essentially says that Albion's funding seems largely thanks to people buying gold and subscriptions to the Premium account in-game. When the game is on Steam, they're claiming this micro-transaction model is then forced to go through Valve using the Steam Wallet, so Valve take a cut:

As some of you may know, when a game is launched on Steam, payment of microtransactions (in our case gold purchases and subscriptions) have to be handled via Steam wallet.

Valve taking a cut of this obviously eats quite a large portion of their funding, so moving thousands of players over to a model where they get less funding obviously makes no business sense. It's understandable then why they're not giving out Steam keys, even if it's not great for existing owners who want all their games in one place, it's a very business-orientated approach to it without giving players an option. Understandably some players still aren't happy, since there's many games on Steam with micro-transactions which have no problem allowing players to link their accounts.

We've never heard before that micro-transactions are forced through Valve's systems, but it wouldn't surprise me. I've asked both the developer and Valve for clarification on this, as surprisingly no developer has ever told us this and trying to find information myself turned up nothing to say so.

Update—Seems the Albion developer may be correct going by this developer page, which states "For any in-game purchases, you'll need to use the microtransaction API so Steam customers can only make purchases from the Steam Wallet.". However, there's also this developer page which says the opposite "Steam places no restrictions on what you sell or how you sell it nor does it preclude the use of whatever other mechanisms your game has for selling items.". It might just be a case of poor wording on Valve's part, leading to developer confusion.

Update 2—I spoke to Valve myself and this is correct. Games on Steam do have to use Valve's API and use the Steam Wallet:

If you obtain/launch it from Steam, yes. A Steam user that downloaded Albion Online through Steam should only be offered Steam Wallet as a payment option for in-game items/currency, but that doesn't mean that they need to drop all other payment options just because the game is available on Steam. Someone that is playing the game through their own platform could still be offered direct payment.

If you look at games that are available on more than one PC platform, it's common practice to have different payment options depending on the version you get.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: MMO, Steam
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blindcoder 29 Mar, 2018
If that's true (and it is on other platforms: iTunes, Google Play) then what would the alternative be? Give everyone a steam key but increase the price of IAPs by whatever cut Valve takes? People'd be up in arms against that as well.

In the end, if you want a game on a specific platform, don't buy it elsewhere. Devs and publishers are under no obligation to gift you access to the game elsewhere, especially with key reselling still being a big thing.
madpinger 29 Mar, 2018
Well, that only makes sense, business sense. Gabe doesn't need any more money anyway ~~
tick 29 Mar, 2018
link
QuoteSteam places no restrictions on what you sell or how you sell it nor does it preclude the use of whatever other mechanisms your game has for selling items.
Doesn't seem so clear to me…
Liam Dawe 29 Mar, 2018
Quoting: ticklink
QuoteSteam places no restrictions on what you sell or how you sell it nor does it preclude the use of whatever other mechanisms your game has for selling items.
Doesn't seem so clear to me…
The directly contradicts the other page I linked, it's possible one is outdated.
nitroflow 29 Mar, 2018
The option would be opening a web page to their store front for micro transactions instead of relying on the steam API, unless the steam API is forced on them. At least with Shroud of the Avatar that seems the way it works, you go to it's website, buy what you want and then redeem the stuff in game after the fact.
Liam Dawe 29 Mar, 2018
Article updated, I've emailed the Albion developer again with that other link to let them know.
tick 29 Mar, 2018
Maybe we should interpret differently :
QuoteFor any in-game purchases, you'll need to use the microtransaction API so Steam customers can only make purchases from the Steam Wallet.
can't it be read as : you will need to use the API if you want to let Steam customers use only the steam wallet.
Liam Dawe 29 Mar, 2018
Quoting: tickMaybe we should interpret differently :
QuoteFor any in-game purchases, you'll need to use the microtransaction API so Steam customers can only make purchases from the Steam Wallet.
can't it be read as : you will need to use the API if you want to let Steam customers use only the steam wallet.
It does leave it a bit open to interpretation, which I think is the cause of the issue here.

The other page is rather clear though, that you're not forced to use it. Hopefully with my email linking the Albion developers to it, they can have a rethink possibly. They ideally need to speak to Valve themselves, to get a full answer.


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 29 March 2018 at 12:39 pm UTC
Hal_Kado 29 Mar, 2018
Thats a tough call on the dev's part if they are indeed locked into the steam wallet. Perhaps a compromise would be to clearly explain the challenge to the community and then offer steam keys by request only. If presented in this way I'd personally opt to keep the money in the devs pocket and forgo the steam key, I would guess a lot of other early adopters would as well.
14 30 Mar, 2018
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Quoting: nitroflowThe option would be opening a web page to their store front for micro transactions instead of relying on the steam API, unless the steam API is forced on them. At least with Shroud of the Avatar that seems the way it works, you go to it's website, buy what you want and then redeem the stuff in game after the fact.
I'm surprised to hear that setup. I remember years ago when EA pulled out a bunch of their newer games because Steam wouldn't allow them to sell DLC within game. I think that today you still only see "Gold" or "GOTY" editions of EA games because DLC is complete and included in the game. Hearing what you say, perhaps opening a website is technically acceptable since it's not in-game...?

If it's true that Valve would take a cut on all in-game purchases (again, they're probably just not allowed), then that makes a lot of sense why several MMO's are either not in Steam or don't get into Steam until they're released for a couple years.
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