Steam and XNA Redux

By on 2/17/2010

I love it when information travels at the speed of internet. I posted a little blurb yesterday about whether or not Steam would publish XNA games. It was based on an email that I sent them, and the response I got back. Very quickly, a few commenters mentioned that it would be trivial to write some c++ interop code to interface with the steamworks API. Nick also mentioned that there had in fact been several XNA games already published.

After a bit of online sleuthing (ie. searching Bing for "xna steam") I cameĀ  across said XNA games on steam and, via one of the developer's websites sent him an email. He was very nice and responded with:
Too bad they responded in such a way... usually they are very nice at Valve.

But yeah, they wrote a little C# wrapper for their Steamworks-dll. They also made their installer script look for the dependencies (.NET & XNA redist) ... I didn't really do anything to achieve this, they had already decided to release the game when we ran into problems because of the code being in C#, so they just put a guy on solving it.
This of course correlates with some of the other comments on my post saying that it would be trivial to write the wrapper; and in fact, even with my own assumptions before I even posted the blog entry. But the point I was trying to make was that I find Steam's approach to developers rather strange. One of the FAQs from the steamworks site reads:
10. My game is in early development stages, don't I need to plan for the SDK integration now? The Steamworks SDK is easy to integrate, so you can wait until your game is further along in the development cycle before worrying about it.
Their approach is basically one of don't call us, we'll call you. Unless your game gets lots of publicity (for example, winning an indie contest) you will have to actively seek them out and pitch your game to them.

Contrast this with the approach that Microsoft is taking with XBox Live Indie Games. They provide an SDK, they provide hosting, they provide distribution, they provide some marketing ... all for less than ten bucks a month ($99 a year). This model is so much more appealing to me as a developer because it is low risk (yes, $99 a year is low risk). If I end up not developing anything, or development goes longer than expected ... I'm out $99 bucks at most.

If only Microsoft would extend xblig onto Windows ...

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