The Steam Review

Comment and discussion on Valve Software’s digital communications platform.

Prey arrives on Steam; new Triton company

U-turn for 3D Realms :: November 30th, 2006 :: New products, Other services :: 12 Responses (Feed)

Two major developments in the Triton/Prey saga tonight—and you thought it was over.

Prey 'deathwalk' screenshot
Back from the dead, so to speak.

The most immediate is the surprise announcement that Prey, without an online distributor following Triton’s collapse, will be released on Steam later today (see the Steam homepage or this 3DR forum thread). Unusually, those who bought the game at retail and even from Triton will be able to register their CD keys: Take2 and/or 3D Realms are evidently still supporting their beleaguered customers.

Despite that fact, the asking price on Steam is still $50. Further, those who buy the game on the cheap today (i.e. at retail) are seemingly able to migrate without restriction to Steam, and become, for lack of a kinder term, leeches of the service. With Valve unable to take anything at all from those purchases, it’s safe to assume that Take2 is paying them a support-covering sum on each registration.

There is also Gamasutra’s interview with Scott Miller, which provides two points of interest on page three. Miller first reiterates his reasons for not wanting to distribute through Steam. The interview would have been made some time ago, so don’t take its context today as too much of a mixed message (although I will admit, it is quite funny).

His unfortunately-timed complaint is that for as long as Steam is an internal Valve project, other developers will be wary of offering a potential or actual competitor a slice of both their sales figures and revenue. While Gabe Newell’s riposte to this on the Next-Gen Podcast was a good one—that 3DR seem quite happy to overcome their inhibitions when licensing engines from iD—I’ve been wanting for some time to voice my agreement with Miller. It might make more sense today to keep things together, but there will come a point when Steam will be stronger as an enterprise of its own. Unless, of course, Valve are planning on creating a glass ceiling for its growth.

Returning to Prey and Triton, Miller hints at a new system being created from the midst of DiStream’s system’s fallout:

From the ashes of Triton, there’s a company starting up that will do things much better. Triton had some internal problems that hurt them from the beginning. They were a dead man walking situation from the start.

I haven’t been able to extract any further details on this new company, but Miller’s choice of phrase (“from the ashes”) has produced the textual equivalent of a knowing grin. How cryptic.

Tags: ,

12 Responses to this post:

0 Comments

  1. simonc Says:

    Simon at Gamasutra here – the interview was conducted less than a month ago (actually on Halloween) – so it’s not really as ancient as some people have been implying. But certainly, the timing is amusing.

  2. ATimson Says:

    Gabe Newell’s repost
    I think you mean “riposte”. Speaking of which, do you have a source for this? It’s certainly a good counterargument, but I haven’t seen it before.

    (As a counter-counterargument, though… is iD really a games company anymore? Like Epic, they seem to do one game to showcase the barebones of the new engine, then ride on the engine licensing fee coattails until the next generation of engine is ready for them to slap a game around. Neither the Doom 3 expansion nor Quake IV were theirs… Doom 3 was really their last project, and Quake III the last internally-developed game before that. RTCW was all outsourced.)

    Valve putting a glass ceiling on Steam would be foolish. They’ve seen iD and Epic with their engine licensing, and are trying to get in on that lucrative cash cow with Source. While Steam may have started as a way to better distribute their own products, I would think that they would be viewing it much like engine licensing: free money.

  3. Tom Edwards Says:

    Thanks Simon.

    I think you mean “riposte”. Speaking of which, do you have a source for this?

    That would be the, er, QA department. (Fixed and linked. ;))

    As a counter-counterargument, though… is iD really a games company anymore? Like Epic, they seem to do one game to showcase the barebones of the new engine, then ride on the engine licensing fee

    I don’t know if including Epic in there is justified, certainly when it comes to their UE3 efforts. You may well have a point in general, but it does depend quite a bit on what sort of game 3DR are making/producing: Prey certainly wasn’t too dissimilar to D3.

  4. Tom Edwards Says:

    Congratulations, BTW, go to Garry. A successful release, a place at the top of the sales charts, and 1 112 players online at this very moment ! With the short notice of the release I’d expect that player count to keep on increasing over the next few days, too.

  5. boglito Says:

    The time has not yet come for valve to part with steam. Steam is still in the pioneering phase of digital distribution, and I predict that Valve (Mr. Newell) will want to be there through that entire phase. When the development of the field slows down there will be several players in the market that offer more or less the same functionality as steam, and the potential for growth will be significantly reduced. When that happens I can see Valve letting steam stand on its own two feet.

    I think Scott Miller’s comments on steam are pretty strange. Some of the harsher ones are comments I would expect from a rambeling hateboy on an internet forum, not someone who fancies themselves as pioneers of software engineering. I’m pretty sure Mr. Miller would be upset if Doug Lombardi (valve’s evil person #1, which we all know and love) gave interviews where he was slamming 3drealms…

    Furthermore I don’t see how he can possibly consider Valve as a competitor. They are in the same field of business, but seriously, how many gamers are ever going to think “buy game by valve, or buy game by 3drealms”? I think extremely few. And if that day ever comes (dnf vs tf2 anyone?) how is 3drealms not giving money to valve through steam (and subsequently losing out on a fair shair of money themselves) going to improve their odds of winning over the gamer? The answer is that there is NO benefit for 3drealms in not doing business with Valve.

    It seems to me that Scott Miller is feeling rivalry towards Valve on a higher level than what he is willing to admit. Could it be his ego as a pioneer of game development that is talking? 3drealms was an important player in the field of computer games some time ago, but they don’t really stack up very well against Valve “the rookie” these days. Actually very few developers compare favorably to Valve. I speculate that it might be adverseness to, or maybe even envy of, Valve’s unprecedented power as a completely independent developer, engine licensor, and publisher that is the real problem.

    From a financial point of view the steamofobia certainly makes no sense. They have lost quite a bit of money by trying to stay away from steam.

    .bog.

  6. Tom Edwards Says:

    The time has not yet come for valve to part with steam. Steam is still in the pioneering phase of digital distribution, and I predict that Valve (Mr. Newell) will want to be there through that entire phase. When the development of the field slows down there will be several players in the market that offer more or less the same functionality as steam, and the potential for growth will be significantly reduced. When that happens I can see Valve letting steam stand on its own two feet.

    I’m pretty sure that’s what I said. 😉

    It seems to me that Scott Miller is feeling rivalry towards Valve on a higher level than what he is willing to admit.

    I wasn’t going to mention it, but if you peruse the forum thread I linked to over at 3DR, someone has posted an older comment by Miller where he admits to being somewhat of a Steam hater. Whether that’s still the case or not I don’t know, but he does seem to have mellowed since then if he allowed this to happen.

  7. boglito Says:

    Yes, I know you said more or less the same. My ramblings were mostly directed at Mr. Miller’s comments.

    So far speculation is that the deal has been muscled through by 2kgames. 3drealm probably had to give the thumbs up, but my bet is that they did so reluctantly, and only because it speeds up the process of making the Tritonites (myself being one of them) happy.

    Hopefully this is a sign that 2kgames are happy with their previous cooperation with steam (civIII,civIV,pirates,jagged alliance) and are willing to consider steam for future products too. I’m thinking they will think twice before betting on an upstart digital distributor with nothing to their name once again. (Allthough that is not really fair or positive. I’m pro-competition in the field of digital distribution…)

    Also, congrats to Garry. Not bad hitting 1000+ users some 25 hours after release. Hopefully the numbers will stay strong in the future.

    .bog.

  8. hahnchen Says:

    In this world of political correctness gone mad, it’s good to see the word “spazzy” in a Steam news post.

  9. Film11 Says:

    I must wonder, if Miller knew that Triton was a dead man walking all along, why did they even consider using it? It would be a lot of trouble I imagine for 3D Realms to ship all the boxes and other material to failed Triton users and I’m thinking it may have been better if they had just stuck to going retail only.

  10. Tom Edwards Says:

    Presumably he considered it worth the risk.

    (If anyone was wondering, Gravatars aren’t appearing because the Gravatar service itself is offline. Nothing I can do about it.)

  11. Tom Edwards Says:

1 Trackbacks/Pings

  1. Does the Retail copy work with Steam? - TimeGate Studios