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Laid Back Gaming license Steam and Source

Trokia artist founds independent studio :: May 9th, 2006 :: New products :: 27 Responses (Feed)

Trokia’s Source-powered Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines turned out to be the company’s last game before their financial ruin and closure. The closure might have been the end of Troika, but it certainly wasn’t the end of the company’s experimental, screw-the-workload style.

Michael McCarthy, former lead artist (and a bit more) at Troika, has since founded his own company, Laid Back Gaming, and is now busy developing a currently unnamed turn-based Action RPG in the style of X-Com. Like Bloodlines, the game will be built on Source – but unlike Bloodlines, it will be distributed on Steam too. McCarthy spoke to RPG Codex about the game (thanks SomeCrazyIdiot), and more importantly for us why he chose Steam.

I have chosen Steam because if you buy Valve’s engine to make your game with, you get to keep 100% of what you sell on Steam. That’s right 100%. So using our math from above, if I can sell the game on Steam for 30 bucks and cost 6 million to make, I’ll be seeing a check after the game sells 200k units instead of 2 million. AND the check I get for the units I sell will be 10 times more than it would be from a publisher AND after all this wonderfulness, you guys all get the game for 30 bucks instead of 50.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines image
Bloodlines was Troika’s last game, but Source’s first third-party release.

That there is some form of incentive for developers to distribute their licensed Source projects on Steam, and/or to develop their Steam-distributed games on Source, was a known fact. That it is a 100% profit margin on sales most certainly wasn’t. For the engine license at a rumoured price of $200,000, plus however much a Steam license stands for, the only thing eating at your profits are government taxes. That’s quite something.

You may also find the interviewer’s closing list of Steam “horror stories” worth a grin. What could ever have caused this strange pattern of posts from 2003? And what is behind these busy discussion threads in which everyone derides the original “steam sux” poster? Clearly, your guess is as good as mine.

Lastly, it was not long ago that I asked how many other developers could have been saved had they chosen digital distribution. It seem that we have our first name:

If Troika was able to sell the games they made through Steam and sold only a 1/4 of the units they did, they’d be thriving today and everyone would have really cool RPGs to play. The more people who download, install, and actively use Steam the better. It’s really small developers’ only hope to get their games out to people.

Uh, oops. I’ve corrected the studio’s name.

27 Responses to this post:


  1. Andy Simpson Says:

    100%?? Wow. Does that seriously mean Valve doesn’t even take a cut for bandwidth, let alone a small profit margin? That’s either genius or stupidity. Seeing as how it’s Valve, I’m leaning towards genius.

    Thinking about it though, they use the standing server capacity to serve their games, and right now a third-party Steam licensee is going to use less bandwidth than any Valve game. They can swallow the bandwidth cost because there is no additional bandwidth cost. Maybe…

  2. ATimson Says:

    Bandwidth is cheap. Hard drive space is cheap. If a company is forking over two hundred grand to get a copy of a bunch of code that’s already written, they can afford to allocate a few pennies of that to cover the costs of distribution via Steam.

  3. Matthew Says:

    Who pays for the content, that is pushed around by valve content servers, if it ain’t valve then a big part of the cost is deferred to third party organisations. Im sure it works out pretty well for Valve.

  4. Tom Edwards Says:

    Valve pay for the bandwidth they reserve, not what they use.

  5. Dwarden Says:

    There tons of great games and studios who could be saved if they used Steam or similar (in terms of price, quality and so on ) … really sad to watch them fall because of greedy publishers …

  6. Fuzzy Says: