Saturday, 8 September 2012

Steam Greenlight - My view


Just to get it out of the way first for those who either love or hate Steam, I like it and always have.  I like steam because it doesn't force me to be online all the time to play my games in singleplayer.  I can download my titles as many times as I want to within reason.  Its a convinient system to keep your games in one place and it works pretty smoothly. 

I understand peoples concerns with steam even today, many players would rather it be like the old days of PC gaming where you just bought a game and installed it without having to use a third party program to launch it.  I think people sometimes forget though that steam acts as a kind of uninvasive DRM service.  Without steam to verify your game you would probably have to suffer all kinds of DRM systems from multiple developers and we don't want that.

What really impresses me with valve though is how willing they are to work with a community.  This company actually gives a crap about its userbase or at least come across as if they do.  Its true that the infamous valve time for games like Half life 3 and the like can sometimes drive fans to nerd ragedom, but when they release a game it is of a pretty high quality.  The other great thing about steam is that as a platform it has allowed many small and indie developers get some recognition in the gaming world.  Many titles are released through steam that you would never see on retail shelves or online stores, games like super meat boy, terraria, the binding of isaac, atom zombie smasher and more.

Valve have ramped up its submission process over the years to bring more and more developers onboard and get their games sold through steam but even after a decade of doing so they still cannot review every single title that is offered to them for sale.  That is why recently we have seen the launch of steam greenlight, a community experiment you could say that allows the gamers to decide what games they want to see next on steam as a paid for product.

Obviously valve will keep their own submission schedule but greenlight free's up alot of time while the community votes on hundreds of titles.  Originally greenlight suffered somewhat from abuse by users who were submitting existing games as their own work or simply to troll.  Games like sim city, mass effect 3 and world of warcraft all turned up on their and the project was in danger of being swamped by trolls.  Valve have since had to force developers to pay to host their titles for review, a tricky thing really.  Every developer now must pay $100 to host their project on greenlight with the proceeds going to charity.  Its an unfortunate development really since many of the developers who were hoping to use greenlight for some attention will likely forget it now due to the cost.

I don't blame valve for doing this.  Yes they made a system that allowed any user to upload whatever they wanted, perhaps valve could be blamed for giving the internet too much credit as a mature forum for gaming discussion.  An alternative to the $100 fee could have been to use some valve staff to monitor the games, but this defeats the purpose of lightening the workload in the first place.

Personally I really like the idea and hope valve builds on it as time goes on.  Being able to vote on what you want to see on steam is a great idea because when a game you voted for does get on there you can feel all proud and bigheaded when say to your mates "I helped get that on here you know".  Perhaps sony and microsoft could implement a similar system to their online stores.  Being able to vote on what gets added to the PSN or XBLA would be pretty cool.

What is your opinion on greenlight?  Comment below and thanks for reading.

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