In a surprise statement at a private indie games event in London, Valve have just announced and debuted Steam Greenlight, slated to launch at the end of August. This new Steam platform, which functions similarly to the Dota 2 and TF2 Steam Workshops, will allow game designers to submit their work for public and rated review, by all Steam gamers. Through ratings and feedback, the Steam community will help Valve decide which games will be released on Steam, and which won’t. Here is the official press release:
Steam Greenlight will allow developers and publishers to post information and media about their game in an effort to convince the Community that their game should be released on Steam. Greenlight piggybacks on Steam Workshop’s flexible system that organizes content and lets customers rate and leave feedback.
As well as serving as a clearing house for game submissions, Greenlight will provide an incredible level of added exposure for new games and an opportunity to connect directly with potential customers and fans.
“Making the call to publish or not publish a title isn’t fun,” said Anna Sweet, at Valve. “Many times opinions vary and our internal jury is hung on a decision. But with the introduction of the Steam Workshop we realized an opportunity to enlist the community’s help as we review certain titles and, hopefully, increase the volume and quality of creative submissions.”
Game submissions will have to include at least 4 screenshots; 1 gameplay/concept video; a square-sized brand image; a game description; and tentative system requirements. Uploading a concept demo or early build is optional, but entirely supported. No other restrictions, apart from the typical: no offensive material; no violations of copyright or IP rights and laws.
For the time being, Greenlight will only support PC and Mac games (Windows support being mandatory), but we can expect Linux support to be added some time in the foreseeable future.
The best-rated games will then enter Valve’s approval process for distribution on the actual Steam Store. But it’s not so much about hitting milestones – as Greenlight is more about seeing what it is that gamers want and are interested in; and less about seeing how many people want it. So Valve will be reaching out to developers as their projects gain traction and gather a crowd, regardless of the rating percentage that those projects have attained.
In any case, this is an absolutely brilliant idea, and I think it’s going to end up being not only a huge success for gamers and developers alike, as well as Steam itself; but it might also represent a very significant innovation in the indie development field. Developers and their fanbase will no longer be segmented and fragmented across different communities and forums – and so, Valve themselves (who really have become a new kind of publisher/distributor) will be able to gauge interest, and learn more about both the Steam userbase, and indie development in general. Quite frankly, it’s genius.
Who knows, this might even be a great opportunity for Valve to hire some really talented folks, and bring their concepts on board, just like they did with Nuclear Monkey Software and Narbacular Drop. Maybe that’s an ulterior motive, maybe not – but I’m sure it’s crossed Valve’s mind at some point.
The only problem I really have with this whole set-up is that it’s being limited to paid releases. Let’s go hypothetical for a minute here: imagine if Greenlight supported GoldSrc/Source modding , and allowed modders to submit their projects for selection as a Steamworks-supported mod on the Steam Store. Let’s not forget that, as a mod team, obtaining approval for Steamworks distribution is also a very convoluted and tricky affair, perhaps even more painful than the actual Steam game selection and approval process. And while the Steam Workshop has done a lot to foster modding growth, I don’t think it’s enough. Besides, it hardly even supports mods – it simply supports custom maps and models. And again, it doesn’t help modders in really getting their designs and content out there, as much as Greenlight does with games.
The GoldSrc/Source modding scene hasn’t been doing very well as of late, and such a hypothetical modding Greenlight would have been a great opportunity for Valve to show their support, and re-vitalize the community in a way that would be productive for themselves, for the mod developers, and for the average Steam gamer. And from there on out, this modding Greenlight could only expand to encompass mod support on a wide range of other commercial games. In fact, this would have been a terrific way of testing out Greenlight in a smaller, more safe environment, acquiring information and data that could then later be applied to the full-fledged commercial Greenlight.
I am a bit disappointed, yes – but at the same time, Greenlight remains an incredibly smart and ingenious endeavor from Valve, and I am very interested in hearing more about it. Keep an eye on the official Steam Greenlight website.
Original source: PC Gamer.