Jonathan Blow showed us his latest game at the Game Developers Conference, but he also shared some thoughts on the future of Steam, and why Xbox Live Arcade is a challenge for independent developers. The first issue is pricing: Blow invested a significant amount of time and money in The Witness, and the game will be much longer than Braid, with higher production values. The game may sell for around $20 to $25, which is more than the $10 or $15 standard of Xbox Live Arcade.
“If I go to Steam I can sell a game for $25, but if I go to Xbox Live Arcade I can’t,” Blow explained. “In fact, the contract says I can’t control the price at all. That artificial channeling is sort of making their platform inhospitable for certain kinds of games.”
Blow traveled to Seattle to take a look at some of the upcoming changes coming to Steam, and he was impressed with what he saw. “Steam already has a good interface. You can find games, there’s community stuff on there, it has recommendations… you compare that to Live Arcade, which is the best console digital experience by a wide margin, and Steam is still way better, which is crazy,” he said. “The other thing is Valve is not stopping. Microsoft mostly stopped, and now they’re ****ing around with the Kinect UI. Who cares about that? Does anyone use that?
The developer was excited about the things he saw coming to the Steam platform; he said he was “super impressed” by the work being done and the conversations he had. “[Valve] had a bunch of indie developers up there, and they wanted to show us their plan, and talk about whether it meets our needs for getting our games on [Steam],”