Want to support your favorite developers? Ditch Steam and buy direct
I got into this business because I love good games, and I want to try to shine a light on them. The best way to do so is to talk about games we’re excited about, and to help find ways to support the people who make the game. That’s why, when we can help it, we’re going to start linking directly to the developer’s website in the “buy it now” link on all reviews.
The reasoning is simple: Steam is a middle man, and take a nice chunk in commission whenever you buy a game that way. It’s the nature of the business, and it happens with everyone, but I’d love to be able to maximize the amount of money that goes to the people who make the games, and not just to the service that sells it.
If you look at a game like the Legend of Grimrock, you can see a wide variety of places to buy the game. That’s not an accident. “We feel that using http://www.grimrock.net/buy/ would be most convenient since we have all the different vendors lined up in there and the customers themselves can make the decision of where to buy from,” Almost Human told me when I asked about if they cared where people bought the game when it was released last year.
“Of course we would appreciate it if people would choose to buy directly from us but places like Steam and GOG.com are probably more familiar for most,” they continued.
So don’t feel bad for purchasing from Steam, or GOG.com, or any other service that you’re familiar with and trust. Every developer would rather have a sale from one of those storefronts than not.
But it’s a simple matter of economics. When you buy The Swapper directly through the Humble Store link on their official page, the developer gives around five percent to the Humble Store in exchange for the front end to take payment and process credit cards. One of the reasons Artemis has been such a successful game is that it’s sold only through the official site, and thus the creator only has to give up a very small commission for credit card processing. He told me his payment system takes around 10 percent of sales.
The amount of money Steam charges as a commission isn’t public information, but I’ve been told by multiple sources that most digital distribution platforms take around 30 percent off commission for selling the game. That still gives the developer or publisher the lion’s share of the sale, and the massive amount of publicity that Steam can help give games is certainly worth the price being asked, but if you know you’re going to buy a game, why not give the developer more of your money?
If you see a developer selling a game directly, give some thought to buying it that way, as long as you feel comfortable. Many Humble Store links give you a redeemable Steam key for your purchase anyway. We’re going to make a better effort to link directly to Humble Store links and the official pages of developers to encourage this practice.
Again, buying from Steam, or your favorite platform, is perfectly fine. Supporting games in any way is a good thing. But if you have the option, buy direct from the people making the game. The difference can be substantial, and it helps them make more games in the future, and it’s likely the cost to you is exactly the same. The difference can mean an extra 20 to 25 percent of the cash going directly to those that made the game, and that's a great thing.