A new approval process for Steam submissions: Announcing Greenlight.

Last night I was lucky enough to be one of the first people made aware of Steam’s new submission process called Greenlight (That and their open bar, cheers guys!) In a small bar in the middle of London about 150 indie developers gathered to hear what announcement Valve had for them in the calm before the Develop storm. They actually managed to coincide the timing of their talk perfectly with the website announcement so we were some of the first people to hear about it.

So what’s the big change? Well Valve has a very select catalogue of titles on Steam, around 1,600 and about a quarter of these are indie games. The current process is to submit a build, some information, concept art and any press reviews to one source at Valve and then some secret group of people pass judgement on whether it is Steam worthy.
This system has met some criticism, mostly for being so closed off. Developers didn’t know what Valve was looking for in a game and the approval process was very slow. It was just too much of a gamble for most developers so Valve have decided to make a change.

The new system completely embodies Steam’s drive for community and perhaps taking the criticism to heart, is now very open! In many ways they have made the new system into a game in itself…
So here’s how it works. Anyone can sign up to Greenlight and start a page for their game. On this page you can upload various details (playable builds to come soon apparently) such as art, text, links etc and then at the bottom of your page there is a blue bar.
Every time a member of the Steam community ‘likes’ your game as a concept the bar fills a little. Only when you bar is full will Steam consider you game. How many votes this takes Valve wouldn’t say, but it would appear this may be on a game by game basis.

My thoughts on this? I’m sceptical as to whether a game that makes a lot of online community noise is a good one and that’s that. I’m sure plenty of very good games will struggle to obtain audiences, say from unknown developers, or games that are now very successful, such as Angry Birds and Train Yard which initially on launch had little to no interest would never be discovered.
It’s also quite a unique cross section of players that are active on the Steam Forums, let alone those that will check out Greenlight and pass judgement on the developers pages.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. From Valves perspective it makes perfect sense! Launch only games that already have a big following and support? It’s a no brainer, and with a catalogue already well served they have little reason to take risks any other way. For the developer though, I’m unsure whether this is a good idea.
On the flip side there was very much an air of ‘under develop’ from Valve about Greenlight, so maybe things are yet to be changed, updated and refined. We’ll see……

In other news they also announced Steam Big Picture. It’s basically an optimised Interface for Steam that will allow user’s to play their games on their TV with a controller instead of the standard mouse and keyboard setup. I feel in the wake of news about how the console is dying Steam may have come up with a decent alternative. Just off the top of my head this’ll be good for racing games which are often best payed with a controller and have multiplier in the room modes.

About PJ Belcher

Game Audio Producer. https://pjbelcher.com/ pjb@pjbelcher.com
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