Valve's gaming client and digital store Steam has been a boon to independent developers for many years. If a game from a small studio managed to get a following and catch your attention, chances are that it originated from Valve's digital distribution service. Steam provided a home for Edmund McMillen's religious themed top-down-shooter "The Binding of Isaac" while Nintendo refused to sell it on their eShop service for the Nintendo 3DS. Before Hat Kid was collecting hourglasses and leading parades on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, her game "A Hat in Time" premiered on digital storefronts for the PC such as GOG and Steam.

With a venue that seems to provide so much creative freedom and support, you have to wonder what actions could cause many indie developers to refuse to feature their games on there. In this case, it's inaction that's causing such a scenario to occur, as Valve's refusal to comment on the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted a massive boycott from indie developers.

The killing of George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, 46-year-old man George Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the former's neck for 8 minutes and 48 seconds. Despite protestations by onlookers and Floyd's pleas that he couldn't breathe, the three officers accompanying Chauvin held back any attempts to intervene.

According to the Washington Post, the initial autopsy attributed Floyd's death to "underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system." A second autopsy requested by his family deemed his death as a homicide.

17-year-old Darnella Frazier filmed Floyd's death with her phone and posted the video on Facebook.

The video was later circulated on the internet, resulting in Chauvin and the three officers to be put on paid administrative leave before being fired. Sparked by the former officer's actions and the Minneapolis police's response, massive protests erupted around the area that Floyd had been killed. After three days of civil unrest in the Twin Cities, Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder.

Floyd's death, along with the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Christian Cooper prompted the return of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Valve's silence

Although multiple gaming companies such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have voiced their support and donated to the Black Lives Matter movement, Valve has remained silent. As a result, developer Julian Glander announced that he would be taking down his games from Steam such as "ART SQOOL" and "Lovely Weather We’re Having." He stated that Valve's silence disappointed him as he felt that their audience was in most need to hear the message of Black Lives Matter. Below is a tweet from Glander:

Shortly after Gander's announcement, more indie developers showed solidarity by withdrawing their support to Steam.

In direct contrast to Valve, Epic Games has voiced their support of the Black Lives Matter movement which could prompt developers to flock to their competing digital distribution service, the Epic Games Store.

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