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Not on Steam Sale: 35 indie games that aren't on Steam, are on sale


The Not on Steam Sale is both the opposite of a Steam sale and strikingly similar to one: It features more than 35 games, each up to 50 percent off for one week only, but none of these games are available on Steam – yet. Most of the games are on Greenlight, waiting for their chance to enter the Steam market, and some are simply sold independently and want a signal boost.

Games on sale include Race the Sun, Blood of the Werewolf, Richard & Alice, Leviathan: The Last Day of the Decade, The Yawhg, 6180 the moon, Tower of Guns, Girls Like Robots, Full Bore, Sokobond, Cute Things Dying Violently, Rose & Time, and The Sea Will Claim Everything. The great thing is that the most expensive games are just $20 normally, with most of them priced much lower, plus they're now up to half off.

To be clear: The Not on Steam Sale isn't a bundle. It's a group of indie games discounted on one convenient page, each sold separately.

The sale is hosted by Aaron San Filippo, the developer of Race the Sun. Filippo recently wrote a blog post about the difficulties of selling an indie game that isn't on Steam – when he wrote it, Race the Sun was outside of the top 100 on Steam Greenlight and it had sold only 771 copies in its first month. Now, Race the Sun is No. 10 on Greenlight.

"The internet is a crazy place," Filippo tells me. "When we published our sales post, we expected the usual indie developer interest, as we developers love to read about sales numbers and such. But everyone picked it up, and we ended up getting more attention than the project had ever had. Our fans became energized, and then a big YouTuber, Daniel Hardcastle, covered the game after lots of people were asking him to play the game, and he loved it."

Filippo doesn't make any money off of the Not on Steam Sale, apart from copies of Race the Sun he sells. It's half off, for $5.

Another game in the sale for $5 is Scientifically Proven's Blood of the Werewolf, headed by ex-Call of Duty developer Nathaniel McClure. Blood of the Werewolf has been lingering on Steam Greenlight, and many other games in the sale have similar stories of stagnation and discoverability issues. McClure hopes the Not on Steam Sale will push people to vote for these games on Greenlight.

"Like many games in the sale we have had a high percentage 'yes' votes for Blood of the Werewolf, but overall, have seen a small volume of people voting," McClure says. "Most of the games you see in this sale are facing the same discoverability issues. Many games on Greenlight see a big spike of traffic for the first days/weeks, but as time moves on, the titles slide down in the queue and don't get seen by as many voters."

Echoing the sentiment Filippo laid out in his sales post, McClure says not being on Steam can break a developer's career:

"For a studio like ours it can mean the difference between having food on the table or not. Steam is the 'first party' distributor for PC, which puts them on the level with Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo – the gateway to a massive community of passionate PC gamers. There are other great sites out there that are chiseling away at the market share – and we have every intention of supporting them as well – but Steam has numbers, infrastructure and services that allow indie studios the opportunity to earn a living making games."

The sale isn't meant as an insult to Steam; it's meant to simply put some great games in more people's hands, Filippo says.

"Like most gamers, we love Steam," Filippo says. "But right now, not every great game is there. We'd like to raise awareness of this fact, and encourage folks to check out some of the awesome games that can be bought direct from the developers, or from other platforms around the web."

Most games in the Not on Steam Sale use the Humble Store widget, which allows developers to give out Steam keys to all customers once their titles get through Greenlight. In the sale, games that will provide Steam keys have a key icon in their boxes, while those still in development have a tilted hourglass icon.

"The Humble Store folks have been nothing short of amazing," Filippo says. "They're really responsive and helpful, and it's very easy to have a dialogue with them. Additionally, we feel that many players trust Humble as a brand now, thanks to the Humble Bundle, and so there's an immediate comfort in buying from that store that just isn't there with some other payment providers yet. Basically, we couldn't be more happy with our experience with them."

For now, it's imperative for indie developers to establish a distribution partner such as Steam, Filippo says – but he wouldn't mind if that changed, just a little:

"We'd love to see an indie gaming ecosystem where people will gladly buy their games direct from developers, or on other great platforms like or Desura." Or maybe the Not on Steam Sale.

Update: Steam Greenlight accepted another batch of games today, coincidentally including three from the Not on Steam Sale: Race the Sun, Mousecraft and Vox. At least the "Sale" part of the name is still accurate.

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