Soon the Steam community will be able to vote in select independent productions for distribution on the digital platform. According to Valve, Steam Greenlight will allow users to engage in a voting process that can be performed at any point in a potential game’s development cycle, with “the final decision on Valve’s shoulders”. The new feature is expected to launch in late August.
Several independent studio heads have weighed in one the service. Speaking in email to GamesBeat, Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games (AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity), described how Valve flew a select group of small developers out to their Washington office to introduce the system.
“They took us through the process, as planned, and let us try to knock it down.” Jambe detailed, “That’s roughly a dozen indie developers — people who love picking things apart just to see how they work – asking questions about everything from the overarching concept (‘Does this help solve the problem for indies?’) to the nitty-gritty (‘What are all the ways people could game the system?’).”
He continued, “The Steam review team’s biggest problem right now seems to be volume. They receive an overwhelming number of submissions during a week. Playing through each of them would be a full-time job for dozens. Ideally, Greenlight will help highlight the hidden gems that might otherwise fall through the cracks.”
Indie studio head Robert Boyd (whose Zeboyd Games recently released the third episode in Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness RPG franchise) spoke on the shared concern within the development community, about the potential abusing of such a user-guided system.
“I think it’s a great idea in theory.” Boyd explained, “However, I hope that Steam has some safeguards in place against developers boosting their Steam Greenlight ratings via dubious means.”
Drawing a parallel to the crowdfunding operations of Kickstarter, ApathyWorks’ (Cute Things Dying Violently) Alex Jordan sees potential in the concept. “It seems to mimic aspects of Kickstarter so as to bring great games to Valve’s attention while still putting the final decision on Valve’s shoulders. Ideally, that’d leave it to the community to just approve the best games and cut down on the Steam submissions team’s workload, allowing them to better review pre-vetted games and hopefully spend a bit more time with them…The bottom line is that this is a great opportunity for indie developers to not only publicize their projects and get a shot at Steam, but also to participate in a new and vibrant community.”