A Tale Of Two Developers, Or Where Steam Can Improve In 2014
New year, old challenges. We look at Mutant Mudds’ and PixelJunk Eden’s fates on Steam to highlight their biggest opportunity.
Steam still seems to be hit or miss for developers, as we profile opposing situations from two prominent and experienced developers about the prospects of their games on the platform.
Let me start with the bad news. Jools Watsham, head of Renegade Kid and advocate for Nintendo, recently shared his thoughts on the dismal prospects of Mutant Mudds on Steam from the recent Steam sale:
Doesn't look like we're going to get rich from Mudds on Steam. 1900 copies sold. 1400 at 50% off. 442 at 10% off. 58 at full price. Sigh.
— Jools Watsham (@JoolsWatsham) January 1, 2014
Jools also recently released the game on PSN, and while he can’t reveal sales data on that platform, he has affirmed its making more money there than on Steam. He also reassures fans that the game continues to be profitable, enjoying its best success on Nintendo’s platforms.
In contrast, look at these celebratory tweet from Q-Games head Dylan Cuthbert about Pixeljunk Eden Steam sales last December 31:
— Dylan Cuthbert (@dylancuthbert) December 31, 2013
Cuthbert has clarified that he is referring specifically to the income they had initially made for the Steam version of PixelJunk Eden. The game continues to be a fan favorite, having been voted as a Steam Community Choice for that Steam Sale. Get this: for that day, the game was on sale for only 99 cents.
I’ll resist the temptation to compare the two games directly. Although they are both platformers with puzzle elements, the two are basically night and day. What is relevant is that this highlights Steam’s continuing challenges in making their platform a viable one for all developers.
In fact, Jools believes the problem is lack of promotion from Steam, so it’s unfortunate that the company isn’t doing more to help Mudds out. As Jools points out pragmatically, this makes a Steam release for Treasurenauts seem highly unlikely.
I won’t hesitate to point out once again that Jools struggled to even get Mutant Mudds on the platform in the first place, and it was eventually to join the 1st 100 title batch on Steam Greenlight when Valve’s program faced almost total dismissal from the industry.
I certainly hope Valve employees are reading this and taking notes. Not just for Mutant Mudds’ sake, but for every developer who’s struggling with Steam in general. As Valve caps off 2014’s 1st Steam Sale, I hope they find their way overcoming these challenges in the new year.