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Silence Speaks Volumes: Why Some Indie Devs Are Leaving Steam Over #BlackLivesMatter

“We have the power to demand change.”

The past few weeks have seen support for Black Lives Matter come from all corners of the internet — from Kpop stans spamming police apps with fancams to Anonymous coming back from retirement to provide information leaks, it seems just about every group is lending their voice in one way or another to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Even indie developers pulled together to create “the largest bundle ever, and one of the top grossing bundles in the history of games” according to Itch.io, the gaming platform that collected over 8 million dollars for the cause.

From signing petitions, protesting, or even just voicing opinions online, it seems every single individual and corporation has made a statement regarding Black Lives Matter, and the ones who haven’t are coming under scrutiny — Steam, and Valve, included.

On June 11, indie developer Julian Glander announced on Twitter that he was pulling his games from Steam due to their silence on the matter, and encouraged other developers to follow suit:

“Over the past few weeks, Steam and Valve have chosen not to address the Black Lives Matter movement, failing to make even a broad and generic statement about racial justice. It’s clearer than ever that the owners of this platform feel beholden to a base of angry white male gamers. This makes me especially sad because I feel that some of these people are the people who most need to hear the message of Black Lives Matter. Obviously as a company you guys can do whatever you want but I find having my games associated with the Steam platform to be embarrassing and a little nauseating. Please retire both my games (ART SQOOL and Lovely Weather We’re Having) from your store ASAP. #blacklivesmatter”

Other developers, such as Gabriel Koenig (Jettomero: Hero of the Universe and Test Tube Titans), agreed with the stance and requested their games be pulled as well.

“I put in a help request to remove my paid games earlier this week as well. Steam is nothing without our games. We have the power to demand change. Dev friends, consider using your voice. Steam will not be getting any more money from me.

“Giving up Steam was not a decision I took lightly. I’ve been making ~$1000 a month in sales lately, and leaving that behind made me feel uncomfortable. But if I continued to profit from their store I’d be complicit with their silence on hate. Happy to discuss.

“For anyone who wants more justification. Read this article and tell me you still feel okay about giving your money/revenue share.”

Both developers have stated that Itch.io’s platform aligns more positively with their values.

Other developers took the lead in their replies, posting their request for removal letter to the original tweets.

This would not be the first time developers have voiced frustrations with the Steam platform; from taking maximum profits while providing minimal support to unfair curation that hurts indie devs, more and more game devs and publishers are jumping ship and finding new platforms — or straight up creating their own.

In the short term, some gamers may wonder if a handful of developers leaving the platform will bring any change or force the platform to take a stance. But with big YouTubers already preferring itch.io and developers receiving more money for their hard work on the Epic Games Store, perhaps the writing has already been on the wall for Steam, their opinion on Black Lives Matter notwithstanding.

Heather Johnson
Born at a very young age; self-made thousandaire. Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things. Covered in cat hair. Probably the best sleeper in the world. Still haven't completed the civil war quest in Skyrim but I'm kind of okay with that. Too rad to be sad.

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