Steam Dev Days would be a waste of my time
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Get out there, meet people, make new friends, expand your network, etc.
Here’s the thing though. Not everyone fits in this setup. If I would go I’d probably end up talking to the same people I talk to online, waste time hearing about VR while I don’t care about it (oh I think it’s cool alright but I won’t be touching it as a dev for quite some time simply because there’s no way I’m spending that kind of money on hardware) and then stand there smiling while I’m trying to translate/organize my thoughts to jump in a discussion a group of people is having.
I’d get out of there with a bill eating up my revenue it took me 9 years to finally get out of a game, maybe a hangover if I’m lucky and not much else.
There was a time before Greenlight that devs had these “Steam representatives” assigned to them. Some still do because they got in when this was the way things worked. Not anymore though. If you’re a Greenlight-era dev then you most likely never talked to anyone from Steam and can never hope to get one of these “free app ID to bypass Greenlight”. Even if you would manage to find someone from Steam to talk to there would probably be 100 people waiting in line before you.
March of the Living is a success yes but on the scale of Steam it’s not even a bleep on their radar. Yes, it could happen that someone tells me “oh I played your game and it was cool” but it’s not enough for me to hope such thing to happen to spend money on plane tickets, admission and a room.
Networking could be a good thing right? Sure but even when we’re inviting 15-20 people at our house I usually have a hard time fitting in because that’s just too much action for me to process. I don’t care much to talk about myself and often care even less about others in a group context. I could meet someone who would change my life in some way but the chances are that I’ll spend most of my time waiting for it to end.
Then there’s the language barrier. I’m able to easily participate in one on one conversations or even small groups but when there’s too many people involved I’m just concentrating on trying to follow where this is going. By the time I finally organized my thoughts and found how to say what I want to say the subject already changed.
Some talks might be of interest but then if I’m going for this… http://www.steamdevdays.com/2014/
There’s also the money issue. MotL is a success yes but it’s not like I have spare money I can start throwing away at things that may or may not bring me any results. This money will be better invested in 1) making sure I can keep making games for the years to come and 2) on the next game I’ll be working on. You might not realize this but even if MotL was release in April I so far received only 1 payment from Steam only for the first 10 days (it was released on April 20th) and that money is split with my publisher. They pay you month to month and start 1 month after release at the end of each month. Yes I have an idea of the money that will come in the following months but it’s still not in my account. Starting to spend money I still don’t have seems like a good plan to get bad surprises later.
So the more I’m writing about this the less reasons I see to go to such event. There would be reasons that would make me go like someone asking me in advance to meet me for some reason (maybe if my publisher was going that’d be enough because this guy made my dream come true and that’d be silly to not at least meet him face to face once), being ask to participate in a panel like “how did you find a publisher” but so far none of this is happening.
It’s not that these events are bad for everyone. I do think however that many overestimate what these events can do for them unless just being there for you is enough. If you’re a very outgoing person then sure maybe you can maximize your presence there. If you’re a bigger “bleep” on Steam radar then yes maybe you can get to talk to someone from Steam that might result in an interesting contact. If you have the money to fly out there to just get a good meal with fellow devs then sure, it’s great.
When someone like me tells you that it’s not worth their time though I think it’s missing the point to tell them “well you’re wrong because…”. As you can see above I thought about the pros and cons. There are just more cons than pros for me. Maybe next time it will be different though but not this year.