Many people herald Braid as the beginning of the indie developers movement. Jonathan Blow’s new take on the platform genre turned into a breakout hit on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade marketplace. It’s hard to imagine where gaming would be right now without Braid as it really did show up and prove that an indie developer could make something that can move as many units as big publishers.
It’s shocking in hindsight to hear then that Valve didn’t think the game could move 5,000 units on Steam when Jonathan Blow approached them with his game. On his twitter feed, he opened up about the experience in a number of tweets. “Braid was originally rejected by Steam! They only picked it up after it was a hit.” He went on to say that he believes Mark Healey’s under performing 2005 action game Rag Doll Kung Fu might have had a hand to play with Valve’s hesitance. “They just did not think anyone would buy the game (I think Rag Doll Kung Fu gave them a bad experience maybe).”
This is interesting because it really takes you back to what the Steam marketplace was before they began to make big pushes into indie games by opening their market and also raises the question of where Microsoft would be right now had Valve come forward with Braid first. It seems though that there is an understanding as to why Valve made the decision for Mr. Blow. Hindsight is exactly what it is and nobody could have known how big the game would have turned out to be. He had originally submitted the game for review with temporary art while he was in the process of upgrading the models to what we’ve seen today. This might have been what could have swayed the decision, but Valve had known what the game would play like and that the art assets weren’t fully completed. In clarification he finally went on to add that “it was clearly the same game, and they knew I was upgrading the graphics, and I made this clear again during the rejection discussion, they said it would not matter.”