Ethereal Entertainment's Faceless has been the top vote-getter on Steam Greenlight since the platform's launch in September, but Valve hasn't chosen to publish the game there because of copyright concerns, Joystiq reports.
Faceless is a free-to-play multiplayer survival-horror mod of Half-Life 2 based on the Slender Man mythos, the urban legend that originated on the Something Awful forums in 2006 and became a viral phenomenon.
According to developer Justin Ross, the Slender Man is a "free-to-use entity" and Ethereal obtained permission from the creator of Slender Man, Something Awful user Victor Surge. In addition, Ross noted, a similar game called The Intruder, which takes inspiration from the legend but does not specifically mention it in its description, made it through Greenlight in October.
However, Surge's blessing means little to Valve, since a third party owns the option rights to Slender Man and could license the property for media such as movies and video games. "We'll need their permission too," Valve told Ethereal.
The developers are currently in discussions with the option holder, and once the proper paperwork is signed, Faceless should be ready to launch on Steam. But the talks have "kind of hit a stale mark in the road," said Ross.
In the worst-case scenario, Ethereal will forgo Steam and publish Faceless on ModDB, which would allow them to avoid any potential copyright issues. "A Greenlight launch isn't that important," Ross said. "Sure, it'll help, but we'll be fine enough without it."
Faceless is set for closed beta testing in December, and the full version is set to launch in March on PC.