Steam launches Greenlight: Crowd sourcing the gaming catalog

Valve has recently released Greenlight for the steam community, which allows home brew game developers a way to submit their games to be sold on the Steam platform. But rather then Valve deciding which games are made available, they leave it up to the community to vote for the games they want to see.

Game developers submit pictures, video, and a brief summary of their games to try and entice interest. Afterwards the games are put in a pool where the steam community, made up of gamers and consumers, vote on the ones they like. Once the game receives a certain threshold of votes, they are then put on the short list to be added to the Steam catalog.

Edit: Updated the post below with a recent Valve blog about tweaks to the system

A small sampling

Taking a brief look at the list of games put up to be voted on, I could see several recognizable titles. Games like "No Time to explain", "Octodad", and "Mc Pixel" which have already obtained fame from flash gaming websites or have been on display at PAX. Many of these games would deserve the exposure they could get by being made available on the Steam platform.

One of the first games I looked for, was the game "To the moon" which has gotten a lot of good reviews, and which I know had been in talks with valve to be put on steam eventually. The game did not show up in the list at all, but I assume that is because there are still other avenues for indie developers to get their games on steam in a more formal way as well.

On the shady side however I saw at least half a dozen mine craft clones in the first few pages, and more then a few blatant anime cleavage shots trying to capture users interest for games that are not really representative of that games style.

In fact, one user actually submitted Minecraft itself, as a game they wish they could see in steam, even though they are not the actual developer of that game. In another case, someone submitted the original SimCity and made an 'advertisement' in the summary that seemed to reek of a phishing scam... So there are a lot of misleading titles in the pool already, and I can imagine that only getting worse as the number of games in the pool jumps up to several thousand.

Finding the Quality in the quantity

Much like kickstarter, this gives a chance for the consumer to decide which types of products they would like to see made available, rather then leaving it up to the discretion of the publishing companies. The barrier to entry is still fairly high however, as recognizable games on this list that have received a few thousand votes still only have 2% of the votes they need to get the green light.

There are still many potential problems with this model of crowd sourcing however. As of a few days after its release, there are already 600 games that can be voted on. In order to stand out amongst the heard, these developers will have to execute a non-negligible marketing campaign or already have an established audience in order to get the attention they need to be pushed in a timely matter. Or they may need to acquire the endorsement of internet or gaming personalities who also have a large fan base which they can move towards green lighting the game.

In short, it could very easily become a popularity contest in which many good quality games still go unnoticed for lack of marketing or connections, as they get buried in the pile of knock offs and fraudulent postings. It will be interesting to see if Valve continues to evolve the Greenlight community page to address these issues.

Edit: A work in progress

Not long after release, since the time of this posting, Valve has already released an update and a blog post to how Greenlight works. Most notably there is now a one time $100 fee in order for developers to submit games to Greenlight, and even more notably is the entirety of that $100 is given to the Child's Play charity. This is in response to the large number of noise and fake/invalid submissions to the service and should help to calm things down.

Problem creating an opportunity

Crowd sourcing publishing has started to establish itself in a few areas now, and while both Steam and Kickstarter offer tools within their interface to discus or navigate these large collections of fledgeling products, It is not hard for me to imagine the emergence of a new series of third party websites and tools focused on navigating these crowd sourcing collectives.

Much like fan sites and modding communities develop their own places around individual games, I could imagine a website being devoted to featuring and picking through the quality selections within the Steam greenlight and even kickstarter projects. A place where users can go to verify the legitimacy of specific projects, or to see more detailed fact checked and consumer review reports for these games.

Regardless, the only way this venture will prove successful is the same for any democratic process; it needs the active involvement of a well informed community.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *