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There's retiring old video game characters by not using them any more, and then there's retiring old video game characters by building little models of them and destroying them.
Introversion, the developers of strategy game Darwinia, are done with the property. Having worked on it in some for another for nearly a decade now across its various forms, by 2010 they'd become so sick of the thing that they couldn't just let it go quietly into the night. They had to kill it. With fire.
If ever proof was needed of how important Valve's Steam platform has become to many PC developers, look no further than the tale of Introversion, the developers of Defcon and Darwinia, whose company was saved by a Steam sale.
Despite a string of cult successes like Uplink, Darwinia and Defcon (pictured), the British developers had run into some tough times recently, and had gone from being a "proper" studio, with an office and staff, to having to fire most of their workers, sell their furniture, move out of their office and code from their bedrooms.
In desperation, one day they decided to add some Steam achivements to Defcon. Doing so meant Valve gave the team some promotion on Steam, and that promotion turned into sales.
Valve okayed the promotion and even though it didn't focus on DEFCON we were happy that we had achieved our core objective. This was the game-changer. When we started Introversion we'd had a string of successes and believed we were undefeatable, but it was a long time since we'd had a victory and we really needed one. Right on cue, Valve delivered. The promo exceeded all of our expectations and when combined with our low burn rate (no office or staff now) we had gone from being fearful about paying our mortgages to having a year's operating capital in the bank.
Great news for Introversion, as they thoroughly deserve it. It'll also hopefully give them the coin to continue development on Subversion. But for everyone else...Valve may be in most people's good books, but it's still a little frightening to think that a single company can play Kingmaker with the fortunes of developers across an entire platform, so dependant have so many PC publishers become on Steam for legitimate sales.