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Is Valve's Steam antithetical to Linux and the very core of the open source spirit?

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  • Is Valve's Steam antithetical to Linux and the very core of the open source spirit?

    The first give away is that developers who sign up with Steam must legally agree to not discuss the details of their contracts.

    Right there, heavy handed legal agreements that you aren't even allowed to discuss in public. If anything is opposite to the open, community nature and spirit of open source and Linux, this is it.

    The iOS/Android app stores have revenue split details and pricing info right on their public web sites. No NDAs, no secret deals: it's completely out in the open.

    I can infer that Steam:
    - Has much more subjective say over which games they distribute and promote.
    - Has much more controls over how games are priced than say iOS/Android, where it is pretty much completely a developer choice.
    - Has much more leverage over game developers and reduces their rights.

    The code to Steam is not open source, not forkable, and the protocols are all completely proprietary. If you don't like the Steam client, you can't just write your own. And there is a push to make games Steam exclusive to remove the choice from users to experience game content without Stream.

    Valve wants Stream to take away rights of Linux developers, control contract info and negotiations in secret, control the pricing, and take a large revenue cut.

    Additionally, I can see a logical fairness to Apple claiming a 30% revenue cut on iOS apps since they built and drive that entire hardware and OS ecosystem. It's a similar story for Android apps. But what entitles Steam to a large cut of the revenue of a software product that some independent developer writes for Linux? Valve didn't help write the software, and played no part in the development of the OS or the hardware, what gives them any kind of reasonable claim to a cut of the revenue?

    If Linux wants good games, someone fix the issues that have made it hard for developers to have platform neutral game clients. Most game developers require fairly standard functionality to build on: fast 3D graphics rendering, audio, keyboard/mouse input, and install/unistall.

    This is an awesome Linux coverage site, and the main writer has personal relations with Valve and is a big fan, but I don't seen any positives out of this for Linux.

  • #2
    I agree that too many products being only available through one distributor is a bad thing and the vendor-lockin should be removed (i.e. every time you buy something on steam you get a non-steam copy too.). On the other hand, as long as it is basically "entertainment software" that we can do without just fine, who really cares?

    I'd say, give it some time. For example
    Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
    - Has much more subjective say over which games they distribute and promote.
    I don't understand much of what all of that means but I think they want to make it more accessible:
    http://gamasutra.com/view/news/18616...Greenlight.php

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
      I can infer that Steam:
      - Has much more subjective say over which games they distribute and promote.
      - Has much more controls over how games are priced than say iOS/Android, where it is pretty much completely a developer choice.
      - Has much more leverage over game developers and reduces their rights.
      1) Possibly. It's quite possible that the companies just have different ways of working.
      2) I think you need to justify it not being developer choice (i.e. provide evidence).
      3) Possibly.

      Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
      Valve wants Stream to take away rights of Linux developers, control contract info and negotiations in secret, control the pricing, and take a large revenue cut.
      Without any evidence of the cut that valve take it's not fair to say that it's a large cut.

      Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
      Additionally, I can see a logical fairness to Apple claiming a 30% revenue cut on iOS apps since they built and drive that entire hardware and OS ecosystem. It's a similar story for Android apps.
      Valve wrote steam, i.e. the software that supports the app's deployment.


      Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
      This is an awesome Linux coverage site, and the main writer has personal relations with Valve and is a big fan, but I don't seen any positives out of this for Linux.
      It reduces dependence on Windows, it makes it easier for people to use Linux as their only OS.

      Many of the problems you have mentioned stem from Steam being a proprietary piece of software. Whilst I'd definitely prefer it if Steam were open source, I think a certain amount of pragmatism is sensible here.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by archibald View Post
        1) Possibly. It's quite possible that the companies just have different ways of working.
        2) I think you need to justify it not being developer choice (i.e. provide evidence).
        3) Possibly.
        Possibly. I don't have solid proof, but the very fact that they force all developers to sign an NDA and keep these contract details secret is a big, big warning.

        Originally posted by archibald View Post
        Valve wrote steam, i.e. the software that supports the app's deployment.
        Of course. subjectively, I would say that this provides extremely little value and that it's dramatically smaller investment than what Apple/Google makes into iOS/Android.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
          Possibly. I don't have solid proof, but the very fact that they force all developers to sign an NDA and keep these contract details secret is a big, big warning.
          For some businesses NDA's aren't because they're trying to keep dark secrets, but because that's what they've always done and they've yet to see any benefit to doing things differently. Please understand: I don't like them, but I don't think much can be read into their use.

          [QUOTE=DanLamb;323277]subjectively, I would say that this provides extremely little value and that it's dramatically smaller investment than what Apple/Google makes into iOS/Android.
          Respectfully, and subjectively, I would say that it provides me with the value of not having to worry about running the update function of every game I run: everything is kept fully-patched and providing it's now downloading *right now*, I can launch any game and not worry about whether I'm running the right version.

          It's certainly not as large an investment as iOS/Android, but it was nonetheless an investment that is capable of providing significant benefits (the more games you own the greater the benefit of it managing their updates).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
            Possibly. I don't have solid proof, but the very fact that they force all developers to sign an NDA and keep these contract details secret is a big, big warning.
            For some businesses NDA's aren't because they're trying to keep dark secrets, but because that's what they've always done and they've yet to see any benefit to doing things differently. Please understand: I don't like them, but I don't think much can be read into their use.

            Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
            subjectively, I would say that this provides extremely little value and that it's dramatically smaller investment than what Apple/Google makes into iOS/Android.
            Respectfully, and subjectively, I would say that it provides me with the value of not having to worry about running the update function of every game I run: everything is kept fully-patched and providing it's now downloading *right now*, I can launch any game and not worry about whether I'm running the right version.

            It's certainly not as large an investment as iOS/Android, but it was nonetheless an investment that is capable of providing significant benefits (the more games you own the greater the benefit of it managing their updates).

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by archibald View Post
              For some businesses NDA's aren't because they're trying to keep dark secrets, but because that's what they've always done and they've yet to see any benefit to doing things differently. Please understand: I don't like them, but I don't think much can be read into their use.
              maybe there is some innocuous reason for the NDAs, but these are major important details of who owns what and who can do what. It's ridiculous to keep these details secret and require NDAs to see them and even pretend to be a part of the Linux community which is based on sharing your source, free software infrastructure, and this open collaborative community.

              Originally posted by archibald View Post
              Respectfully, and subjectively, I would say that it provides me with the value of not having to worry about running the update function of every game I run: everything is kept fully-patched and providing it's now downloading *right now*, I can launch any game and not worry about whether I'm running the right version.
              ok, this is awesome functionality over manually maintaining separate installs, but this is standard package manager functionality. There are many well established package management systems that are widely used and provide this service free to consumers and developers and generally license free and NDA free and completely open source.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                If Linux wants good games
                Linux is not in a position to want anything. It's just a bunch of vaguely related companies and individuals all scratching their own itch.

                someone fix the issues
                Yeah, the anonymous hero to the rescue. Really? Corporations (like, well, Microsoft) invest hundreds of millions of dollars to make that stuff happen. And they know that they can do it since they have full control over their own platform.

                So yeah, find someone to pay this kind of money for the development costs. And when it's done, watch kernel and X.Org upstream reject the patches because Linus' analysis showed that they don't scale well to machines with two billion CPU cores and are slowing down PostgreSQL by half a pico second, and Keith wants to implement his own, better solution that will work perfectly in 40 years, since this one is "not modular enough" and "increases maintenance cost."

                Yes, Linux is like that. So, good luck to you, sir.
                Last edited by RealNC; 04-03-2013, 01:17 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by RealNC View Post
                  Yeah, the anonymous hero to the rescue. Really? Corporations (like, well, Microsoft) invest hundreds of millions of dollars to make that stuff happen. And they know that they can do it since they have full control over their own platform.

                  So yeah, find someone to pay this kind of money for the development costs. And when it's done, watch kernel and X.Org upstream reject the patches because Linus' analysis showed that they don't scale well to machines with two billion CPU cores and are slowing down PostgreSQL by half a pico second, and Keith wants to implement his own, better solution that will work perfectly in 40 years, since this one is "not modular enough" and "increases maintenance cost."

                  Yes, Linux is like that. So, good luck to you, sir.
                  You mention real roadblocks, but come on: those are roadblocks to absolutely anything in Linux and great enhancements still happen anyway.

                  I've heard Linux's OpenGL doesn't have parity with competing APIs in terms of speed/feature/simplicity. I don't think that issue is insurmountable and may not need full upstream patch acceptance.

                  I think Ubuntu and many others could make a competitive storefront, DRM system, auto patch repo, and remote save game system.

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                  • #10
                    Yes, to OP's headline. It's also malware and DRM.

                    But I don't see why we should try to hinder its adoption any. It will bring users, money, and indirectly, advancements to common components, which will benefit us all.


                    It may have downsides from a business sense, if you're a game developer. But you're not forced to distribute via Steam in that case, on any platform. In contrast, you are forced to distribute via Apple on iOS, or via Google on Android, if you want to reach non-unlocked devices*, or 99.9% of the market in either case.


                    * Yes, many Android devices allow third-party stores without unlocking. It's a question of "installed by default" on those devices.

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                    • #11
                      @OP

                      It is legally prohibited to publish any GPL application in Apple market.

                      Android market has a lot of apps that are literally garbage or malware and for example only now "ODF" reader surfaced (where .docx editors were long available).
                      Talks miles about opensource spirit support on android.

                      And Steam does not hinder you to publish your application standalone! You can publish with Steam, without Steam or parallel to Steam.
                      Steam brought a lot of titles to Linux and resulted in much better graphical drivers.
                      As long as Steam is an "option" and seriously supports the OS (which it does), its always welcome.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by curaga View Post
                        Yes, to OP's headline. It's also malware and DRM.

                        But I don't see why we should try to hinder its adoption any. It will bring users, money, and indirectly, advancements to common components, which will benefit us all.

                        It may have downsides from a business sense, if you're a game developer.
                        You have a good point in that there are some real positives, but there are valid reasons to oppose it's adoption. Specifically, I suspect both users and developers will be coerced to use it. And secondly, Valve as a proprietary privately held company would have various undisclosed legal rights over games involved and their pricing and revenue streams.

                        If Steam operates as this completely optional, opt-in only service, and developers and customers aren't overtly pressured to use it, and we can see the terms of the contracts, ok, that's fine. But I don't think that would ever survive. Many Steam users argue that it only makes sense when you can consume *all* of your games through Steam, thus justifying coercion.

                        Originally posted by curaga View Post
                        But you're not forced to distribute via Steam in that case, on any platform. In contrast, you are forced to distribute via Apple on iOS, or via Google on Android, if you want to reach non-unlocked devices*
                        There is complete coercion of Apple with iOS, heavy coercion to use Google Play within Android, and lighter, but significant coercion of Steam on Windows. Many prominent Windows games developed completely outside of Valve have been Steam only, which is obvious coercion of users. Secondly, many Windows gaming sites and communities have organized to coerce Windows developers to support Steam.

                        It is a gray area, but I would argue that Valve doesn't deserve a toll collecting ownership position over Windows/Linux like Apple/Google have with iOS/Android.

                        iOS openly admits that it is a more controlled walled garden. Linux makes strong claims to both user/developer choice and a lack of coercion and the community should support those principles and minimize coercion with services like Steam.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by brosis View Post
                          It is legally prohibited to publish any GPL application in Apple market.
                          iOS openly admits to being a walled garden. Linux does not.

                          Originally posted by brosis View Post
                          Android market has a lot of apps that are literally garbage or malware
                          The issues of signal:noise ratio and malware/adware affect all app stores and repos. The Linux repos have tons of garbage, have had a great record for preventing malware, and are widely appreciated.

                          Originally posted by brosis View Post
                          And Steam does not hinder you to publish your application standalone! You can publish with Steam, without Steam or parallel to Steam.
                          This is true, but Steam is coercive. The contracts developers must sign are legally hidden, and that by itself suggests coercion.

                          Originally posted by brosis View Post
                          As long as Steam is an "option" and seriously supports the OS (which it does), its always welcome.
                          The way you say "option", you suggest minimal coercion. I would claim that Steam on Windows is coercive, Steam is inherently coercive, and Steam wouldn't be successful without coercion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                            iOS openly admits to being a walled garden. Linux does not.
                            So, you confirmed that iOS is opensource enemy. Linux does not admit being walled garden, because its not walled garden. If you have proof otherwise, be my guest to post.

                            Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                            The issues of signal:noise ratio and malware/adware affect all app stores and repos. The Linux repos have tons of garbage, have had a great record for preventing malware, and are widely appreciated.
                            Debian is malware free.

                            Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                            This is true, but Steam is coercive. The contracts developers must sign are legally hidden, and that by itself suggests coercion.
                            Just another proprietary distribution platform, NDAs are usually always required when working for closed source. The difference to others is that it does not require exclusivity (like W8 marketplace or other garbage), and is not GPL-enemy. It also started to actively help Linux and opensource. If you donīt want it, donīt use. If you are developer, publish also standalone version.

                            Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                            The way you say "option", you suggest minimal coercion. I would claim that Steam on Windows is coercive, Steam is inherently coercive, and Steam wouldn't be successful without coercion.
                            Just another proprietary content distribution platform with relaxed conditions and good customer support...
                            Steam drove a lot of gaming industry attention to Linux.
                            For that alone, it gets standing ovations from me. I personally donīt care about windows *anything.

                            Ofc, its not "Opensource Gaming Platform", with all games Opensource, open communication framework, active community to create new opensource games kick-start-like way. But even these two could co-exist just fine...

                            They say that the enemy of an enemy is our friend. Who is your friend, friend? Windows or steam?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DanLamb View Post

                              This is an awesome Linux coverage site, and the main writer has personal relations with Valve and is a big fan, but I don't seen any positives out of this for Linux.
                              How about better graphics drivers for Linux ?

                              Which is already happening, but certainly on the amd side moving slow.

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