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

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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 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.
15 Likes, Who?
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STiAT 17 August 2017 at 9:29 pm UTC
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Legitimate I'd say.
SeekTheShrubbery 17 August 2017 at 10:05 pm UTC
Another option might be for Valve to allow developers to pay for more keys instead of just saying no more third party keys. Understandably, it isn't fair to Valve if the developer sold 1000 copies on Steam and then they sell a hundred thousand keys elsewhere, but they should look at updating the Steamworks page and being more transparent about these limitations. Current Steamworks page says: "It’s free: There’s no charge for bandwidth, updating, or activation of copies at retail or from third-party digital distributors." (Link)
tuubi 17 August 2017 at 10:16 pm UTC
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Could a discrepancy like this stem from a bad game getting included in a bundle somewhere, like in the mostly crap-filled cheap bundles you see on Bundle Stars? Assuming someone actually buys them. Still within Valve's rights to do this. Steam is not a public service.
TheBard 17 August 2017 at 10:57 pm UTC
SeekTheShrubberyAnother option might be for Valve to allow developers to pay for more keys instead of just saying no more third party keys.

Indeed. There are two distinct entities: steam the store and steam the infrastructure. There is a point in not charging infrastrucure. The more games use your infrastucture, the less likely it is for a competitor to reach critical mass.

Look at GOG which is i think the second most used infrastructure (on PC of course). Multiplayer is still a big problem on games using steamplay because gog users remain isolated from the huge majority of players.

If steam forbid third party ressellers, then it would open the door for others stores which would then gain popularity.

Look at Google or Facebook, their infrastructure cost a LOT but serach and personal usage have to remain free to make to much money
Colombo 18 August 2017 at 2:31 am UTC
QuoteLook at GOG which is i think the second most used infrastructure (on PC of course). Multiplayer is still a big problem on games using steamplay because gog users remain isolated from the huge majority of players.

You cannot compare GOG and STEAM infrastructure. To my knowledge, GOG doesn't provide such unified and feature-full service as steam, with such huge amount of software, mods, multiplayer support and cloud for saves. GOG infrastructure is tiny compared to that.
HollowSoldier 18 August 2017 at 2:53 am UTC
So Valve staff still does frequent the forum, only they ignore us, regular peasants, and only talk to devs. Nice.
wolfyrion 18 August 2017 at 4:34 am UTC
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RECONIKSounds like typical greedy Valve.

Let me explain you how the game industry with crappy games was working....

for example....

I as a developer I create a crappy fps game with all the game assets being bought dirty cheap , create some lvls and put it on Greenlight....

Now I need people to vote for my game in order to get it to steam

So I put my game in many bundle sites or I can do maybe some giveaways and "force" people to vote for my game in order for them to get a steam key when my game gets greenlight.

Finaly my game gets greenlight even though it was not worth it but Steam cant do otherwise since people blindly voted for it.
But now I need 30K keys to fulfil my promise to bundle sites and giveaways.

So I request from valve 50K Steam Keys for a game that I put on steam that costs 0.99 or maybe 1.99
Lets say that I also sold the other 20k steam keys even dirty cheap for 0.10 or 0.05 so in short I Am out of keys and I request another 50k keys from steam.
So again I use these keys to put them in bundles or sell them dirty cheap even 0.02 cents and that ends my sales on that game.

So in short I spend 200$ to create this game
I sold 50k copies in Bundles for 0.10 = 50k x 0.10 = 5000
I sold another 50k copies dirty cheap = 50k x 0.02 = 1000

Total 6,000 - 200 = 5,800 profit for a crappy game....ok nice business , lets create another crappy game!!!

So Steam has decided to end Greenlight but at the end it was not the greenlight the real problem but the abusive use of Steam Keys from greedy developers.

Some developers from "poor" countries may sell their games for even 0.01 cent because their monthly salary is like 300$ so even if a crappy game earns like 400$ or 500$ they are more than happy with that.

Last edited by wolfyrion at 18 August 2017 at 4:46 am UTC. Edited 7 times.
lucifertdark 18 August 2017 at 6:06 am UTC
RECONIKSounds like typical greedy Valve.
Sounds like Valve clamping down on greedy developers.
Sounds more like Valve trying to do a Microsoft, monopolise all the other stores out of the market. I hope I'm wrong.
Restmensch 18 August 2017 at 7:28 am 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).

Steam provides a Plattform for distribution (mods included), additional transactions, payment, cloud services, community forums and a recommendation system that increases your sales. This has a really high value and I am surprised that they don't just demand the steam percentages to generate keys for external distribution (so the steam service would be sold with the keys instead of given away). The way they are going means losing the money other stores make while providing the ecosystem.
crt0mega 18 August 2017 at 8:24 am UTC
Bandwidth and storage doesn't grow on trees. Staff wants to be paid. Hard- and software needs to be maintained. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Last edited by crt0mega at 18 August 2017 at 8:27 am UTC
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