Starting in April, Steam is going to have one hell of a competitor in the indie game distribution market as ModDB, popular website/download site, plans on introducing their own Steam-like service for digital distribution, but with a single hook: indie games.
At first glance, Desura already looks very Steam-esque, especially for those of you who are using Steam’s new beta-client. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the service must’ve borrowed heavily from Steam’s new user interface as the comparison shots are strikingly similar. Not an exact match, but similar enough that one should instantly see the similarities.
Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Steam’s new client is beautiful, modern, and focuses the content much better than most other digital distribution services. Desura is doing right by themselves by approaching their design in a similar manner, whether or not they borrowed ideas or not.
Design aside, however, the service’s promise of focusing on indie games is an interesting one to say the least. Aside from the fact that Steam already handles indie games — well over a hundred of them actually — it’ll be interesting to see how Desura handles the rest. What I mean by that is will the service allow for free games to be added to the service (like Cave Story, Spelunky, or Nifflas’ games)? Also, what kind of revenue portions are they taking? At the standard 30% that Steam takes, that leaves barely anything for the developer — for a $20 game — and even less for Desura. Combine this with the fact that indie games typically don’t sell anywhere near the volume of a mainstream title and you’ll notice that the revenue intake for both parties drop drastically.
Of course, it’s still an interesting idea and one that promises many other Steam-like features like groups, community, and peer-reviews. So the service will, inherently, have some value even beyond a digital distribution service. Of course, in this aspect, I’d be remised if I didn’t also include TIGSoure’s own database collection of indie games which include many of the same features that Desura is promising only, instead of being a true digital distribution service, they merely link to where you can buy/download the various games.
Still though, with Steam declining many indie games that attempt to submit to their service and TIGDB not having nearly the spit and polish of Desura, perhaps this abitious project can actually find a niche to call it’s own. Certainly, having the massiveness that is ModDB backing you up can’t hurt either.
[More information can be found at: ModDB]