from the going-direct dept
Late last year, we discussed a disappointing move by GOG to delist well-reviewed horror PC game Devotion from its platform. Making it all very odd were the facts that GOG had just announced that morning that the game would be available that day, as well as Devotion’s previous delisting from Steam. The reason for the multiple delistings was never perfectly spelled out in either case, but the game includes a reference to China’s President Xi and the never ending joke that he resembles Winnie the Pooh. GOG, instead of being open about that being the obvious reason to delist the game, instead said it made the move after receiving “messages from gamers.” Groan.
Well, fortunately, this is 2021, which means instead of the game dying on the doorstep of well-entrenched gatekeepers, developer Red Candle Games can instead just release the game itself on its own website.
After running into nothing but trouble on other people’s platforms, the game’s developers have decided to just sell the game themselves, opening up an online store for international customers that is selling digital, DRM-free copies of Devotion, their previous game Detention, as well as soundtrack bundles for both.
Despite all the complaints from the industry about how the internet serves only to flood the universe in copyright infringement, this is the transformative power of the internet. Gatekeepers that add value can still find a place for themselves, as GOG and Steam have certainly done. But when they try to shut down the distribution of content for cowardly business reasons, well, the developer can just route around them and sell directly to the consumer. Honestly, it’s mostly surprising that this has happened more often in the past and become the norm.
For its part, Red Candle Games does plan on this being the norm for them moving forward.
We hope to provide a direct and simple purchasing channel for players who’re interested in our games. pic.twitter.com/1SxzBZSiyW
— redcandlegames (@redcandlegames) March 15, 2021
And, really, why not? The developer has been bitten in the ass twice now when it comes to distributing through the big online players, both times over the hurt feelings of a honey-mad, cartoon maybe-bear President of China. Why not just go it alone and keep from having to put up with all of this nonsense.
The bigger question is, of course, just how successful this will be. If Red Candle Games can demonstrate that it can go it alone in this way, showing that routing distribution through the likes of Steam and GOG aren’t always the best path, that could lead to more experiments like this… or a change in the distributors behavior.