Updated: Aug 15
Well this nonsense idea started as a way to insult developers who didn't create their own models or art assets. When it first came about it invoked the idea that the developer put no work into their game and just spent 5 minutes loading together some assets someone else made, easy peazy. It then progressed into a new idea of well it's if they use a "complete project" which is basically just a pre-created game template. Finally, it just isn't even a term really used much anymore because the premise of the idea is retarded. Doesn't matter it caused developers reputation damage or prevented some people from even trying to pursue their dreams of making games. The idea created something to complain about which lead to views on youtube videos and ad revenue.
Let's talk about how every industry uses assets and reuses them. Major game publishers reuse game templates with such minimal new content, they could have just released a free update but figured they'd charge a new $59.99 price tag for it instead. Television and movies use and reuse sets. Haven't you ever watched a show and been like that pool scene was in that other show I watched. Heard new songs that sound familiar? Ever listened to a cover band? Ya they do it also. Manufacturing plants completely rescrap their assembly lines after every run or do they modify and reuse components?
Why has no one ever talked about the tons of developers/publishers that have been pouring reskinned games onto Steam for years? Let's talk about Big Fish. Now I know there are fans of hidden object games and there is an audience for the genre. Yet does Steam really need 400+ under several aliases from the same company? When the Sterling crowd was dancing around their fires shaking their digital pitchforks in my direction, Big Fish was releasing 8-15 Hidden object games a month. Now I know some people enjoy them, my point is everyone was complaining about to many games and reskins on Steam but no one talked about a publisher that didn't even have to go through Green light dumping tons of games on the platform.
Their website literally boasts a new game every day. I'm sure it's a completely fresh game created from scratch 100%. Let's look at a few on Steam and see. It took abit because there are so many sub companies and curators associated to Big Fish its hard to sort things out to quote Tom G. a Valve rep "It shouldn't be a shell game", Big Fish - shell game haha get it. Here's one link to some of their stuff https://store.steampowered.com/search/?publisher=%20Big%20Fish%20Games shows 381 titles or something. Let's look at one of their "Series"like https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/4506/Nevertales_Collection/ shows 4 games in one series. All what looks like using same game template they just use different art and different sequences from the same template. None of them with 10+ reviews in their 4 years of release. All of them along with most of Big Fish and associates products priced at 10-15 dollars per game. Now i've seen some pretty unsuccessful indie games but even they can scrap together 10+ reviews in four years. Think the reason is Big Fish games don't go on sale very often on Steam. So how do they make money? Well they just bundle with sites like fanatical for 98% off like these similar games https://www.fanatical.com/en/bundle/cryptic-bundle-9
You would think this business practice would bother Steam since it's not offering a fair deal to Steam customers but Big Fish and others have been doing it for years. See Steam doesn't want low prices on their store. They have made dozens of changes to ensure that you as a developer can't price your game or your bundles at the price that you would be competitive at and offer great prices to customers at the same time. Oh you probably say you can't make any money selling games for 5-25 cents apiece. But games like Temper Tantrum released at $0.25 before they changed the rules and made $8,000 in its launch month. For a starving indie i'd say thats a pretty good launch. It's brilliant really, Steam's manipulation of the market and no one the wiser. They control the minimum price you can sell a title for and control your access to Steam keys. So what ends up happening? Well if you can't get Steam keys then publishers like Big Fish and others with full access to Steam keys can undercut your prices externally. See Steam controls not just prices but who succeeds.
Well Steam can't sell games that cheap they wouldn't make any money! Actually they already do right since they allow external bundles to price that low by routinely providing Steam keys to developers that bundle over and over? They allow Companies like Big Fish and others to bundle externally that cheap for years. Steam currently will ship any game for free with unlimited downloads so you can't say its bandwidth. Well what about transaction fees it would kill them if you only charged $0.05 cents for a game!? Nope, any game under $0.49 must be purchased via Steam wallet, problem solved. Theres really no reason a game on Steam can't be sold for whatever price you want even a penny. Except maybe Steam wants to make sure your paying top dollar when you're shopping on their store front. If you want a deal you'll have to go out the back of the store to the vendors selling out of their trunks. There also is no reason the lowest price for a game on Steam is $9.99 always but its bundled externally for $0.10 routinely. Doesn't it make you wonder why? I mean as a monopoly shouldn't they be required to distribute games at all price points?