Minecraft dev explains absence from Steam

Notch offers high praise for digital storefront, but balks at the limitations imposed by Valve, says there's an inherent incompatibility to their approaches.

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It isn't just mega-publisher Electronic Arts that has issues with Steam. Minecraft creator Marcus "Notch" Persson posted an entry on his personal blog yesterday explaining why his open-ended PC hit hasn't shown up on Valve's digital storefront to date, echoing EA's reservations about Steam-imposed limitations.

Don't expect Minecraft to hit Steam anytime soon.

"Being on Steam limits a lot of what we're allowed to do with the game, and how we're allowed to talk to our users," Persson said. "We (probably?) wouldn't be able to, say, sell capes or have a map marketplace on minecraft.net that works with Steam customers in a way that keeps Valve happy. It would effectively split the Minecraft community into two parts, where only some of the players can access all of the weird content we want to add to the game."

Persson confirmed that his studio Mojang is talking to Valve about resolving the conflict but did not express much optimism. "There's a certain inherent incompatibility between what we want to do and what they want to do," Persson explained.

Despite the disparate business interests, Persson heaped plenty of praise on Steam, prefacing his explanation by calling it "the best digital distribution platform I've ever seen." He also went on to emphasize that the service is awesome, as opposed to "certain other digital distribution platforms that we would NOT want to release Minecraft on." [Emphasis in original.]

Electronic Arts' issues with Steam also revolve around postrelease content. When the publisher pulled Crysis 2 from Steam in July, EA's head of global e-commerce, David DeMartini, said, "We take direct responsibility for providing patches, updates, additional content, and other services to our players" and so insist on being allowed to "establish an ongoing relationship" with customers and contact them to inform them of new patches and available content.

For more on Minecraft, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Discussion

95 comments
Evenios
Evenios

I really think it would be great if minecraft was on steam it might get a lot of people to check it out and buy it who might not otherwise.

HollowNinja
HollowNinja

Steam's integrated patching system seriously makes things easier for the user, since updates are downloaded and applied automatically. I think Steam is where the future is.

birdgang_1
birdgang_1

not like we need his crappy games on steam anyway

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

@lfebaggins Reading skills will help you.Note he hinted he would never partner up with origin.Obvious if you got what it meant.

fillup0
fillup0

@lfebaggins Who said that the game has to be on another distribution platform? I am perfectly okay with games being on another platform as long as I can use the non steam game feature without any trouble.

lfebaggins
lfebaggins

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

shakensparco
shakensparco

Minecraft better not take the micro-transaction route! I don't wanna buy maps and capes, I want to buy the full game and keep getting free patches!

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

@Philly1UPer: Yes, I have Steam, and I hate it. It sucks. See previous post for most of what I think sucks about it. Yes, it does the updates, but it takes 20 - 30 times longer than if I had a patch file directly on my hard drive. If my hard drive crashes, I can either re-download everything from Steam, or I can load it from my backup drives. Hint: my backup drives load faster than broadband speeds, even on off-peak download times. I don't lose or destroy discs. I have a file system, and I use it like any normal gamer. Steam will not be there forever. I've seen game giants come and go. So many names...Epyx, Origin Systems, Ion Storm, 3DO...the list goes on and on. Once Steam goes, my games in my file system will still be here, along with all the patches I've archived over the years (thank you, FilePlanet.com), and any patches that I can't get from FilePlanet.com will be forever lost. Being dependent on an Internet company for my ability to load and re-load games is foolish and stupid. Steam is a worthless middleman that makes people dependent on them for their future service...an electronic crack dealer, if you will. I don't like it, and if I could buy a non-Steam, full-game retail copy, I would. Consider this your first complaint about Steam, then. You have been served.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@VarietyMage I've guess you have never even had steam? Because Steam actually does all the updates for all the games and such. I understand physical owning the game,, but....if you uninstall that game and say...lose the disc or break the disc? You are more then likely screwed out of the game because you have to go out and look for another copy, because most times, PC games will be out of print after a few years, where on Steam...if you lose the game or whatever but if you activated the game on Steam as well, Guess what? Its right there for you to download again...for free. and You really don't have to worry about not having your patch updates because like I've said before. Steam does in fact update all the games on their service and lets you know about patch updates and such. But hey, people have their own tastes. I've had Steam since 2006 and have not had one complaint about them yet. Plus they have great sales on all the games almost everyday.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@MrKit Funny thing is, I have a lot of single player games I've downloaded off of Steam, that I can play without being online. Steam is probably the best when it comes to how they make their profits. Plus, I don't have to worry about them opening up brand spanking new games to give to their employees to take home, play for a few hours or steal product activation codes, then wrap them back up and sell as a new copy like a certain game store *cough*Gamestop*cough* TO each their own like I said, but I have Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 3 on Steam and I have been able to play those without even having an internet connection during Hurricane Irene. Steam doesn't put the DRM or whatever onto the games, that is the actual Game Developer itself.

MrKit
MrKit

I don't like Steam or anything like it. Why? Because when I buy a single-player game I should be able to play it without going online. I don't NEED friends when I'm playing Fallout New Vegas, so don't pretend it's a great feature to provide me with a friend's list! Buying games as downloads that do not require a CD or DVD inserted; I'm all for that, especially on my laptop. Requiring me to register with a service in order to play a single-player game I bought at a brick and mortar store, is unnecessarily cumbersome, punishing and therefore evil.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

Part 1/2: @m4a5: Yes, there will be Steam emulators. However, I've been using emulators for over a decade, and there is no 100% emulator out there. Plus, why the hell should I need an emulator for a game itself? It's like needing a console emulator for a console game. I can understand having the emulator for the console, especially since I probably still have the original in storage somewhere. However, my PC is a PC, and I shouldn't need an emulator for PC video games. Yes, I'm looking at you, Microsoft - you screwed up Virtual PC by not having good emulation, idiots. I can't play Privateer 2 because of you, schmucks (driver incompatibilities and other issues, DOSBox notwithstanding).

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

Part 2/2: @m4a5: I know that the general emulator community is dedicated and hard-working (go MAME!), but Steam and Origin are just worthless middleware that gets in the way of me playing the games I bought. I want my games retail so I don't have to re-download them in case of a hard drive crash. I want my patches saved on a memory stick so I don't have to re-download them again years later - IF I can find them (hopefully FilePlanet.com will always be up). I want to have my game so that I don't need some third party preventing me from playing just because of some stupid copy-protection and adware/spyware program, which is all Steam really is. You can buy your digital copy from Amazon.com, Stardock.com or other dealers, so Steam is definitely NOT necessary. Every program like this slows my game down, eats my RAM and hard drive space, and makes my life more difficult. I want Steam and all other programs like it gone. I prefer discs and patch archives to bloated middleware with no useful purpose.

starduke
starduke

Good, give Steam some competition! I think Minecraft could be better if it stays offa Steam, as long as Notch and Mojang are committed to it.

eriktkire
eriktkire

Seems so easy to criticise these decisions without actually having direct experience in publishing a game of your own, especially in regards to dealing with Steam's backend department... and considering the things involved in making it a non-steam exclusive title... anyone thought of that? As much as I dig Steam, I hate to say it but Steam has developed some very annoying fanboys that may soon border on the level of fanatic ignorance as CoD and BF fans.

PdPstyle
PdPstyle

If he does not want it to be on steam thats fine, as its his game, his choice. But the reason given here is very weak. There are several games on steam that have independently run sites and ways to get DLC. Steam is simply a mode of getting product to customers, its what they do, games like LFD or TF2 (valve games) as well as Mass effect 2 and Dragon age (EA) both have free updates as well as the ability to purchas dlc though the game itself (cutting out steam). *shrug*

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

@Frame_Dragger @bignick217 It's probably a combination of what you're both saying. Notch believes Minecraft can go the distance without Steam, financially or otherwise, and judging from the success of beta he's most likely right. I just don't like excuses, and it felt like that was what Notch was giving. If you don't need Steam I don't really think it's going to be a problem that you need to brush under the rug.

jedediahpelland
jedediahpelland

I use Steam alot, but I could care less if a game uses it or not, as long as any game I get from different publishers isnt trying to force me to use their own digital distribution client. BTW Minecraft is a STELLAR game.

bignick217
bignick217

@Frame_Dragger Oh no... Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that it has nothing to do with money. I probably should have worded it better. All I was saying was I don't think money is Notch's primary reason for not going with steam. And I do agree that you make some very solid points in your argument. Some more elaboration from Notch would help considerably in this. Otherwise we're just guessing. And I also agree that Notch has done extremely well for himself considering he's been doing it entirely on his own up until just this past year. On a side note, I would really like to see minecraft on steam. Especially if he could get it to fully integrate with multiplayer via the steam network and if he was able to get it to allow dedicated servers and clients to both work through steam, but still allow us to set up dedicated servers. At the same time I don't want to see the quality and freedom that's inherent in minecraft to falter in any way because of a fine print policy imposed on Notch by valve. (hypothetical)

duderdave
duderdave

Meet SteamValve - the new WalMart... :P

bignick217
bignick217

@Richardthe3rd I agree that in EA's case it comes down to money and wanting a piece of the centralized digital distribution pie. But I don't agree that it comes down to money in minecraft's case. Notch doesn't charge for DLC nor additional content and never has. He only charges a one-off payment. He also promised to keep providing content and continue development for the game for free for as long as the game is popular. If the commercial popularity goes, he promised that once he discontinued development of the game, he would release the game's source code to the public domain. Considering he's been completely true to his word so far in every respect, I don't see how his reason's for turning down Steam as a store front selling point could have anything to do with money at this point. For the mean time, I'm just going to take Notch at his word. So far, he's earned the benefit of the doubt at the very least in my book. If you want, you could always request Notch to elaborate in a little more detail as to the reason he's turned down steam by adding a comment on the post in his blog site. You never know. He may just be willing to explain in a little more detail if asked. Remember, he's not a corporate developer and probably won't be as legally enigmatic as most big publishers when asked a direct question. It's worth a shot at the very least. Especially if you really are actually interested to know the full reasons.

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

@Frame_Dragger Agree with you 100%; the vague, dodgy reasoning both Notch and EA are giving doesn't make sense, and that's usually an indication that this all comes down to money. As a Steam user, I'm not sure what the point of Notch's statements are. Should we sympathize with him? Pressure Valve into changing it's practices to be a bit more loose? As far as DLC or an in-game store or whatever; there are already several games that offer variations of this that are offered on Steam. Dragon-Age Origins allows you to purchase DLC directly through the game, as does Global Agenda. Their own TF2 offers something similar. Several titles utilize DLC that needs to be purchase outside of Steam. Vague reasoning like "our marketplace won't work" or that "we can't establish direct communication with our customer" doesn't make sense to anyone familiar with the service. Steam will let you do both those things and will update your game as fast as you send patches. I absolutely don't understand any of this rhetoric at all.

swmeek
swmeek

I personally don't see why it would need to be on Steam .

star-affinity
star-affinity

@Shanks_D_Chop Watching my nephew play with Lego... I honestly don't get the pull. I'd rather play Minecraft. Or at least play Lego with the nephew. Or maybe Minecraft when he gets older. :)

Sticker704
Sticker704

A game like minecraft is fine the way it's being distributed. Steam just won't feel right for it.

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

Minecraft... I honestly don't get the pull. I'd rather watch my nephew playing with Lego.

Rickiej
Rickiej

@badmandent That's a good point you have there. I never stood still by the fact that there are still alot of people with a download limit. An ISP download limit with steam is not a good combo! :O

badmandent
badmandent

Great news. Steam (in conjunction with game manufacturers) forces gamers to use Steam, in my opinion, because of piracy. But, if you have a monthly limited download volume from your ISP you are restricted to how much you can download games via Steam. New games are bigger and constantly change with patches and DLC's which again impact on a person's download limit. Steam was set up primarily to prevent unauthorised piracy of games, but now games manufacturers are seeing that it restricts how they interact with their game users. People will find a way to hack games but restricting users interaction with the game, and ultimately with manufacturers is of great concern both to the game manufacturer and the game user. Steam is good for being able to access your games over many computers via an account, but I hate having to wait hours on a download completing.

999realthings
999realthings

As much as I like Steam, why would Notch want to go on it. Steam is good for indie developers anf their unknown games but I think minecraft have around 3 million users and it's not finished yet. Notch can directly sell the product to the customers and get full profit for it and it's advertising is just players spreading the word. At least in Minecraft's case, not being on Steam is kinda justified.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

Steam is the only place I actually trust downloading games that I had to pay for......still bought Minecraft though

Xellos976
Xellos976

if EA can manage sellin BF3 on PSN and Xbox Live then y not Steam? @Pr0ving4Gr0undz i think its like PSN/Xbox Live for PC where u can get everything from 1 place

Jaga_Telesin
Jaga_Telesin

I'll translate: Notch/EA: "We can't sell other real or digital merchandise on Steam, thus limiting our non-core sales. Effectively, anything not packaged as a DLC won't be compatible with Steam." I truthfully find this to be a good thing - merchandise outside the game is usually best sold off an independent website. Items sold inside a game (usually) unbalance and/or create haves and have-nots. Bottom line, they don't want to use Steam and effectively limit the number of revenue streams to games and their DLCs. While it is understandable companies want to maximize revenue, in this case it is hurting potential customers by denying them the Steam digital download service.

Vangaurdius
Vangaurdius

How about actually working on your game Notch. I've seen other indie devs release entire games in the time it takes him to release a bug fixing patch.

PatSon13
PatSon13

@calebcop 3.2 million, actually :-).

Bu3ouf
Bu3ouf

Make love, not war. Bring back EA and introduce Minecraft. Steam is just too good.

Raboss
Raboss

I could really care less :P As long as we can download and play the game,it doesn't matter where we purchase it from.If having minecraft.net allows for more dev support,then just have it there :P

ACMC85
ACMC85

VALVE IS YOUR MASTER, their only misstep was that Left for Dead fiasco.

deathstream
deathstream

@Velentar Wow! Bending over backwards to bash EA, aren't you? Not even willing to admit the POSSIBILITY that Valve could be the bad guy in this? Steam has been great for PC gaming, but if Valve isn't careful they are going to kill it by driving publishers away. Digital distribution is supposed to simplifiy the delivery of games, not complicate it. If I buy a game at Best Buy and then buy DLC from EA, Best Buy doesn't get a cut of the DLC price. Why should Steam be different?

calebcop
calebcop

Why not just sell the .exe through steam, but not make it have to log you in because you already bought it?

calebcop
calebcop

Valve should just give Notch his way. If they can that is. I mean, with 2 million purchases, they would be foolish not to try.

shayeskingston
shayeskingston

This really isn't a problem, Minecraft works as it is at the moment. as long as we don't have to download some client that will take up too much space just to play the godamn game (cough cough EA)

Tauu
Tauu

If you have a Twitter account and you're not following Notch, you're doing it wrong.

nyran125
nyran125

ok So VALVE, ease up a bit and just use STEAM as a distibution service without the wierd tarriffs and maybe just have a link that goes to the games website to DL all the xtra goodies then. Do it soon, before its too late VALVE, because STEAM rox. Make everything compatible Valve before its too late.

Flavorysoup
Flavorysoup

@EliteNamedSteve your right, it isn't a competition. Steam has already won. There are only a few major developers that don't have games on steam, like Blizzard(though this isn't entirely true because it's Activison/blizzard and Activision has games on steam but main blizzard doesn't have any games on steam) and now ea has stopped. But ea still has older games on like Battlefield Bad company 2. In the Digital distribution of games, steam is king.

m4a5
m4a5

@VarietyMage, there are technically Steam "emulators" (more specifically cracks for Steam games) that will allow you to play them without the legit install of Steam... So yeah, you will technically be able to play them, like you can SNES games, when Steam is "dead".

Arkanis_Vayll
Arkanis_Vayll

@albertafox I don't think you or I are qualified to answer the slew of (admittedly rhetorical) questions you just asked. And that's just the thing. From the outside, looking in, we really don't KNOW how an association with Steam affects a developer. Games for Windows Live basically collapsed under the weight of the restrictions it placed on developers and publisher, as they all fled the platform. So clearly, even if you can, say, download an MMO through Steam and patch it externally, these services can and do place -some- form of limitations on devs and pubs who choose to use them.

generalnene
generalnene

Well I for one do not understand why people are crying over Steam not getting to sell certain games.Competition is healthy,and every developer has the right to sell their game where they wish.It is almost like Steam is trying to hard to be the good guy here when in fact they want all the market.Steam needs to worry about Steam and let developers worry about their own.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

"It is the best digital distribution platform I've ever seen" - well, not good enough to allow you to monetize your game the way you want to do it. If enough people get wind of that I have a feeling steam will slowly start to crumble. Which would suck because I like steam.