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SecondStash

Own game distribution platform?

14 posts in this topic

Hello, I'm working on digital distribution platform, something like Steam, or Desura etc. I'm planning to create platform that is simply to integrate with your game. There will be few modules available, like authenticating games and DLC's, achievments including time achievments, updating your game, friends and messages (for example player will be able to invite other player to game, for you it's only few lines of code to add to your project), selling games and DLC's, open and closed beta, etc.

Developer will have a SDK and a devtool for uploading updates, creating achievments and many more. But I have one very important question for you. Would you be interested in using it? As a gamer or developer? 

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Developer will have a SDK and a devtool for uploading updates, creating achievments and many more. But I have one very important question for you. Would you be interested in using it? As a gamer or developer?


what do you offer that existing platforms don't offer?
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Would you be interested in using it? As a gamer or developer?

 

I would just sigh and wonder why efforts are being invested into creating yet another distribution platform rather than using an existing one.

 

Your platform would need to offer something existing ones do not. The things you've described are already done by Steam, Origin, Desura, etc.

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I agree with the others' sentiments -- the only way you can crack this market is to bring a significant (distinct?) market of players with you, do something fundamentally different than existing solutions, or, perhaps by doing everything that existing solutions do but doing at least half those things significantly better than any of the competing solutions.

 

There certainly is room to innovate, but there are so many entrenched players with very, very deep pockets its a bit like trying to take the Maginot line -- best to go around it if you can.

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If you had tens of millions of users on it then yes but, you arn't going to get tens of millions of users without games developers on board and you arn't going to get devs on board without tens of millions of users......

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It would be nice to have something for PC that is open (i.e., anyone can release like mobile distribution platforms tend to be) rather than "gated" which seems to be the case with the aforementioned PC platforms.

Although there have of course been software distribution websites for years, and there's itch.io which is dedicated to games and supports payment options. The difficulty is getting users (not just developers) to your platform.

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Steam is great, but they're a publisher -- they sell your game and pass on some of the money to you.

I imagine there would be a niche market for a steam-alternative solution that's self hosted.
Instead of you being a middle-man who takes a percentage of sales, instead, you sell the store itself to developers - like middleware. I pay you a lump sum *once* to license your platform for my game. I then integrate your storefront/distribution middleware into my game, upload my game to my own servers, and sell direct to customers.
I have to pay my own hosting/bandwidth bills, but no one takes a cut of my sales, and distributing to users is easy because your middleware makes all the hosting/patching/etc easy for me.
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It would be nice to have something for PC that is open (i.e., anyone can release like mobile distribution platforms tend to be) rather than "gated" which seems to be the case with the aforementioned PC platforms.

Although there have of course been software distribution websites for years, and there's itch.io which is dedicated to games and supports payment options. The difficulty is getting users (not just developers) to your platform.


And this is how my platform will work - open for everyone. No developer accounts, no restrictions. Better games will be moved to official section, to make searching for games easiest, but if your game won't be there then you can still sell it and use all available features.

Steam is great, but they're a publisher -- they sell your game and pass on some of the money to you.

I imagine there would be a niche market for a steam-alternative solution that's self hosted.
Instead of you being a middle-man who takes a percentage of sales, instead, you sell the store itself to developers - like middleware. I pay you a lump sum *once* to license your platform for my game. I then integrate your storefront/distribution middleware into my game, upload my game to my own servers, and sell direct to customers.
I have to pay my own hosting/bandwidth bills, but no one takes a cut of my sales, and distributing to users is easy because your middleware makes all the hosting/patching/etc easy for me.


Thanks for your idea, I'm sure I will introduce something like this smile.png
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Steam is great, but they're a publisher -- they sell your game and pass on some of the money to you.

I imagine there would be a niche market for a steam-alternative solution that's self hosted.
Instead of you being a middle-man who takes a percentage of sales, instead, you sell the store itself to developers - like middleware. I pay you a lump sum *once* to license your platform for my game. I then integrate your storefront/distribution middleware into my game, upload my game to my own servers, and sell direct to customers.
I have to pay my own hosting/bandwidth bills, but no one takes a cut of my sales, and distributing to users is easy because your middleware makes all the hosting/patching/etc easy for me.

 

I have to disagree that this has much value -- Steam, as a storefront, isn't valuable because of what it offers in terms of technology so much as it is valuable because of what it offers in a market-place. It offers visibility into a market of people interested in buying computer games, through a brand that they've grown to trust and using a payment system they're already integrated in. Beyond that, they offer community of players, and trading of virtual goods and gifts, even across boundaries of a particular game or a particular publisher even. Steam is equivilent to the AppStore or Google Play -- without a significant  built-in, relatively-captive audience, any competing store is doomed to become the Ouya ghetto, or worse.

 

To be a small developer that has a single game on their own platform that's every bit as good as steam doesn't offer them much, because it doesn't bring traffic to their door, it doesn't solve the trust issue, and presumably there's another payment system (or, e.g. Amazon Payments, et al, which are trusted but take a percentage for themselves). Solving the other problems that steam solves is nice, but they aren't the solutions that help you generate revenue.

 

For a small studio with a similarly small stable of games, it might start to gain traction, but I can't think of too many such studios that don't have a regular publisher affiliation.

 

 

Reading that back, it sounds like a harsher dismissal than I want it to. Selling something that simply solves "those other problems" certainly has value -- just be clear that you're not selling a "steam competitor" unless you have a steam-size user-base as part of the bundle. Since that's the part of the bundle that has disposable income, I happen to think that's what people who use steam or other distribution channels ultimately care about, when we get right down to it. I'm sure there are people who would be interesting in going it alone, I'm sure there are those who could find success (Mojang, for instance, basically solved many of the same problems on their own), but I'm also sure there are those who won't.

Edited by Ravyne
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@Rav - I don't disagree with any of that, except comparing amazon payments to steam -- payment providers take about 3%, whereas storefronts like steam take 10x more than that.

 

...but steam isn't exclusive, so it can worthwhile to set up your own storefront as well as being on Steam. That way, you don't pay the middleman-tax on (the small number of) customers who come directly to your site. These self-run stores can even generate and sell keys for the steam copy of your game. 

However, setting up your own storefront is a lot of work -- a turn-key middleware solution might find a niche market there.

As long as the cost of setting up your own store is less than the expenses of running/setting up your own store, then you may as well do it -- middleware here could help people set up their own stores at a low price-point, making it a no-brainer choice.

 

I work nearby an "indie publisher", Surprise Attack, who offer a service where they manage your game (and taxes) on all of the PC digital stores other than steam. Even though Steam dominates, there's still enough of a small trickle through the alternative stores that these guys can help out a lot of indies make a little bit more profit :)

P.S. When buying indie games from steam, I often check if they have their own store and then purchase direct if they do biggrin.png

Edited by Hodgman
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The obvious question is, how are you going to pay your internet bill and server costs, staff, I don't know where Valve host their Steam servers but they are going to at least need a small server farm, which means lot of servers, cooling and engineers and a dedicated fibre cable to the internet infrastructure then there is the humongous bandwidth bill. They could pay up to millions a year.

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...but steam isn't exclusive, so it can worthwhile to set up your own storefront as well as being on Steam. That way, you don't pay the middleman-tax on (the small number of) customers who come directly to your site.

 

That's true -- I would encourage developers to offer their games in as many ways as reasonably possible. However, while there's not middle-man tax on each sale, you now have to deal with amortizing your own CapEx (The cost to acquire and deploy the middleware), and the OpEx (the costs for servers and bandwidth to keep it all running). It will depend entirely on your own costs, but its entirely likely that you'll need to sell and handful of copies per month in this way just to cover its OpEx, and you'll need to sell enough copies this way above and beyond that to start paying back the CapEx. If you can't do that at all, you might end up loosing money (sleep, sanity) on the venture -- Even if you sell enough to get a little past break-even, it might just not be worth the extra headaches. It could be, but I wouldn't assume so out of hand.

 

I'm with you on supporting your artists in the most direct way you can, though. Its the same reason I buy merchandise and albums (even if I listen to them on spotify -- actually, especially if I listen to them on spotify) from bands when I see them live. Kickstarters and such are even better, since you're actually giving directly to their means to keep producing. But totally, people, make sure you're putting your money into the hands of artists as directly as you can.

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I'm a gamer and I know a lot of other gamers and all of us use steam quite heavily. A handful occasionally buy games on gog.com too. Most buy humble bundles. Very few use any of the other distribution platforms (desura, origin, impulse). Personally, I wouldn't install anything other than steam, so as a gamer, its highly highly unlikely that I or almost all of the gamers I know would install another distribution platform.

 

Unless it has something EXTREMELY compelling.

 

I mean, more compelling than Humble Bundle's pay what you want bundles (or, at least, a bigger/better library of HIGH QUALITY games in that model). Indie games are a dime a dozen - the greatest find their way into Humble Bundles or get onto Steam through the greenlight program anyway, so a large free-for-all in Indie games doesn't cut it IMHO. Too much noise. So unless your "official" catalog is really great or has some insanely good exclusives, I don't see how this can compete without something else that is extremely compelling (and the only thing I can think of is _maybe_ a hybrid mix between Humble Bundle and Kickstarter, but I'm not sure if it would work or if that's enough).

 

I'm not sure what you can offer developers (especially medium and bigger studios) to help make your catalog great.

 

Sorry to be so negative, but its a very tough space to break into IMHO.

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Sorry for no reply for a long time, but I hadn't access to high-speed internet.
I know that I can't compete with Steam etc. I'm not big company, I'm not extra-minded programmer, I want to help  small developers with my modules, you know, achievments, friends, game licensing, dlcs, highscores etc. I want to make it very easy to integrate, to make sure that even beginners will be able to integrate it. Also, for small developers there's almost no chance to get into Steam even with Greenlight, so if they decide to use my systems, they will probably put their games in my platform because why not? It won't be complex, and for small developers all kind of free marketing is good. Slowly, I will get more developers, slowly I will make my platform better and maybe after some time I will bring some high developers. Also, I would like to find some people that want to help me with platform.
I'm not doing it for money, I'm doing it because it's interesting.
About your middleware discussion, I'm sure I will bring something like this in my platform as an option. You can put your game on my servers, but if you want you can do it on your own, and just use my modules to make your (dev) life easier. It's all about hobby, my friends :)
Maybe you will now ask me "if it's for hobby then why you are asking?" Because it would be nice to continue making it and be sure that someone will use it.
Hope we will see again some time in the future on my platform.
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I would like to be a Developer for your Platform! I have only been doing Games for 9 Months but i am learning it quickly, Currently Developing a First Person Parkour game.

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