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Valve limit key requests from developers if it isn't "worth the cost"

Posted by , 17 August 2017 at 6:48 pm UTC / 5934 views
A leaked picture from the private Steam forum for developers has emerged, that show Valve will in fact limit the amount of keys developers can generate if it isn't worth the cost to Valve.



In case the tweet vanishes:
QuoteIf we are denying keys for normal size batches it's likely because your Steam sales don't reflect a need for as many keys as you're distributing, and you're probably asking for more keys because you're offering cheaper options off Steam and yet we are bearing the costs. So at some point we start deciding that the value you're bringing to Steam isn't worth the cost to us.

For example, say you've sold a few thousand copies on Steam but have requested / activated 500K keys, then we are going to take a deeper look at your games, your sales, your costs etc.


Right now you can buy games on Steam, or through a reseller like Humble and the vast amount of other stores. Developers also sell Steam keys directly at times, or give them away with purchases from stores like itch.io along with giving them a copy on their service.

I've seen quite a few people indicate that this is Valve being stricter on Steam, but I'm not so sure. The wording doesn't seem to indicate that it's a new rule they're imposing. It looks like they're simply explaining to a developer an existing rule after one was denied. I would be quite surprised if it was a new rule, because it would imply for a long time that Valve wasn't doing anything to limit keys for developers (which I'm sure would have caused more problems).

However, if this is Valve being stricter, then I see that as a good move. I've always found it extremely odd when I've been told developers can just grab as many Steam keys as they need. Key requests not being manually looked into will always be open to abuse.

Anyway, I've reached out to Valve to see if we can get any kind of clarification. Would be interesting to see if it's a response to Steam Direct, Kickstarter or abuse of some kind.
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MayeulC 17 August 2017 at 6:54 pm UTC
That makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I have been wondering about this rule for some time.

That, and free games (although there are some valid reasons to allow them, in this case).

_____
Edit two hours later, as it doesn't seem to be that obvious, and to elaborate a bit:

There are some costs associated with Steam. They need to pay for the development of the Steam client, website, infrastructure, store, support the ecosystem by submitting patches to the engines (Steam VR, Steam Audio, Steamworks). This admittedly doesn't cost much more if some developers try to game the system. The real issue is probably with the CDN: maintaining Terabytes of games and saves in various datacenters around the world, and handling support for various issues has a cost, however. The more games/people, the higher the cost. And it isn't fair to other developers to try to avoid Valve's cut (as it would result in a higher cut for the others).
Just to give an idea of the size of the infrastructure, according to Gabe Newell, in 2013, dota 2 updates accounted for 2-3% of the worldwide IP traffic when they were going live.

This is still valid for free games; although developers don't make money on these, so this is less profitable, and less unfair to other developers. But free games still drive gamers to the steam platform, and that may help Valve reach economics of size on their CDN, as well as gathering new people to market to. Moreover, there are often tradings cards or other involved, which can generate revenue (and this is probably not a coincidence). Free to play games are technically paid games.


Last edited by MayeulC at 17 August 2017 at 8:44 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
RECONIK 17 August 2017 at 7:13 pm UTC
Sounds like typical greedy Valve.
Solar 17 August 2017 at 7:17 pm UTC
RECONIKSounds like typical greedy Valve.
Sounds like Valve clamping down on greedy developers.
bgh251f2 17 August 2017 at 7:24 pm UTC
Solar
RECONIKSounds like typical greedy Valve.
Sounds like Valve clamping down on greedy developers.

I don't think so, for me sounds more like Valve stopping a bottomless pit of expenses, that bring no monetary return. Or being a sound business practice.
kf 17 August 2017 at 7:28 pm UTC
I'm honestly surprised this wasn't already a thing.
thedukesd 17 August 2017 at 7:42 pm UTC
QuoteSo at some point we start deciding that the value you're bringing to Steam isn't worth the cost to us.

What cost are they talking about here? Valve didn't made that particular game so Valve invested 0 money in that particular game. Valve only take a % from the game sales. There are basicaly 0 costs for Valve (Steam will run even if every single developer will decide to no longer sell on Steam because Steam is needed for Valve games).

They allowed free games on Steam. They get 0 money from those free games and yet those games use Valve infrastructure.

Wonder how Valve will react after they deny the keys to a dev and that dev inform them that they changed the game to free to play. They gonna remove the game from Steam because well it brings no money to them? They are gonna refuse to change it to free to play (the dev can just make it free to play on his own webpage)?

If you think they lose money cause those keys are free. Well there are an army of devs that sell the game on Steam and on their own webpage, Valve gets 0 when the game is sold on the dev webpage.


Last edited by thedukesd at 17 August 2017 at 7:56 pm UTC. Edited 6 times.
malah 17 August 2017 at 7:53 pm UTC
thedukesd
QuoteSo at some point we start deciding that the value you're bringing to Steam isn't worth the cost to us.

What cost are they talking about here? Valve didn't made that particular game so Valve invested 0 money in that particular game. Valve only take a % from the game sales. There are basicaly 0 costs for Valve (Steam will run even if every single developer will decide to no longer sell on Steam because Steam is needed for Valve games).

They allowed free games on Steam. They get 0 money from those free games and yet those games use Valve infrastructure.
Servers cost more than that you have in mind ...
For free games I'm not sure for all of them but many use the steam money, nothing is free.
veccher 17 August 2017 at 7:56 pm UTC
thedukesd
QuoteSo at some point we start deciding that the value you're bringing to Steam isn't worth the cost to us.

What cost are they talking about here? Valve didn't made that particular game so Valve invested 0 money in that particular game. Valve only take a % from the game sales. There are basicaly 0 costs for Valve (Steam will run even if every single developer will decide to no longer sell on Steam because Steam is needed for Valve games).

They allowed free games on Steam. They get 0 money from those free games and yet those games use Valve infrastructure.

yeah it brings costs to steam, you're using it's infrastructure, hard to tell how much it costs exactly, you got a good point saying they allow free content, they have their reasons to allow free content, i don't know how exactly it helps them, but it's easy for anyother platform sell a steam key cheaper than steam, because they don't have to pay the infrastructure, they're using steam's for free. Seems fair to me.

i'm pretty sure steam is still one of the platforms giving more freedom in keys for developers.
Mblackwell 17 August 2017 at 8:15 pm UTC
Running CDN servers costs quite a lot.
peta77 17 August 2017 at 9:26 pm UTC
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sounds more than reasonable... no one of us will work for free.. and preventing misuse will help side-projects like steamOS to grow/be funded before valve is starting to get the big money out of it...
actually I'm very much surprised they come up with such a thing right now/that late, but it seems that key resellers took quite a while to grow into a significant problem...
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