Indies On Steam Greenlight, Part 2: Possible Futures

By Alec Meer on September 6th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

you don't have to put on the green light. You don't.

This second part of our look at how the indie community feels about Steam Greenlight had its thunder stolen before it could even get out the door. There is, I’m afraid, now a much bigger issue than anything addressed here, yesterday having brought the news that Valve had implemented a $100 charge for any developer wishing to create a Greenlight page – regardless of whether or not it would prove successful. It sorts the wheat from the chaff perhaps, and thus could be said to address one of the major issues with Greenlight to date, but in doing so it also presents an extra barrier to indie developers who don’t have money to throw around and raises further moral issues around something that was already in something of a grey area. That, however, is an issue already discussed by those it directly affects, and a topic around which much more needs to be and will be said. Here, primarily in the interests of good, honest decency, I simply wish to allow those who spoke in the first part of this planned series to finish their pre-charge thoughts about Greenlight – what changes they’d like to see to it, and how democratic it can ultimately be.

Participating: Tiger Style, Size Five Games, Puppy Games, The Indie Stone, Lo-Fi Games, Locked Door Puzzle, Hermitgames and many more.

Some of these comments might be severely affected by the introduction of a charge, but they remain strong talking points around a highly ambitious project – and big questions about how this strange middleground between promotion and commerce might need to evolve. And, quite frankly, they throw into sharper relief just why Valve might have decided to introduce the $100 fee.

Rather than form this into an editorialised feature as before, given the newly changed nature of the topic I shall simply present it as it was arranged – two questions, and the answers to them as they were given by a raft of indie developers big and small.

What changes would you hope to see from Greenlight?

Randy Smith of Tiger Style, whose highly-regarded action-puzzle-botany iPad title Waking Mars has taken its impending PC version to Greenlight

I’m not sure it makes sense to have a Thumbs Down button, since that seems like complete troll bait and not clearly useful, so I might remove that concept entirely (who runs around Thumbs Down’ing concepts, what are their tastes and motivations?). I would like the videos to be much more prominently highlighted, since that’s a very functional staple of Kickstarters but in Greenlight they get completely lost in the screenshot interface.

Most importantly, I would like to see different ways of sorting the front page, which right now seems sorted by magic, and the last time I ran through the entire list I didn’t see Waking Mars at all. For example, sorting by which games actually exist vs. which are just brainstorms. Sorting by how many times a game has been added to a Collection or how many times it’s been Thumbs Up’ed (although that obviously leads to potentially bogus feedback loops). Generally ways to slice all the data for quality, not just multiplayer and genre.

Dan Marshall of Size Five Games (of Time Gentlemen, Please fame)

Ha ha, by the time I’m ready to go, I just hope it’s calmed down a bit. If I had a game ready to go right now, I think I’d probably try and leave it a month or so, because right now feels like the floodgates have opened. It’s like trying to promote your game alongside 500 other people – you’re not all going to get heard!

I hope Valve stick to what they told us about the 100% figure being relatively flexible, and still taking games on board if they’ve shown that they’ve got community support, not because it passes some arbitrary figure in an Excel document.

Thomas Hopper of TACSgames whose puzzle platformer Super Skull Smash GO! can be found on Greenlight here

I’d lose the downvote system. A more robust way of interacting with the people who take time to comment would be great.

Joe Wintergreen-Arthur of Impromptu Games who has ‘meditative exploration and puzzle platforming’ game InFlux up on Greenlight

It needs to be a lot easier to navigate and sort. Some kind of ability to send a message to everybody who’s supported your game once it’s released would be great, since I’m kind of worried about all these new fans floating off and forgetting to buy it when it comes out. I’m not sure about thumbs-downing, there’s some confusion about exactly what it’s for and there’s potential for abuse there. Registering interest with a thumbs up is great, but I’m not sure if it’s useful to actively register disinterest or dislike. I think it might be an idea to gameify the rating process somehow – start awarding workshop items for participating, maybe.

Matt Hames of Hermitgames, who has ‘algorithmic, generative and metaphorical arcade game’ qrth-phyl on Greenlight

Really what I’d like is for Steam to have an ‘unapproved’ section where you can distribute/sell your game just like on Steam. Then Valve promote up the games to the curated area that do well / they like. At least then it’d be the game that decides rather than the devs ability to run a social media campaign. I’d happily pay a small yearly Apple developer/XNA-XBLIG/MS Win8 Dev style sub for this ability.

Luke Dicken of Robot Overlord

I’d like to see voting rationed so that people actually need to be selective about what they “back”. Ideally I’d also like to see the down-voting removed so that if something isn’t to your taste you don’t counterbalance the people who do like it. I really think that there
needs to be a better curation system in place, and honestly I think that by making this something that Joe Gamer can submit to they’ve made a mis-step. I’d like to see a Steam Developer Program start up – doesn’t have to be a paid model like Apple – they just need to find some way of filtering out some of these projects and getting the SNR on track or people are not going to bother with it.

Chris Hunt of Lo-Fi Games, whose squad-based, sandbox RPG Kenshi is on Greenlight

Separation for project states: Finished, Alpha, and Concept stage games need to be clearly marked and categorised, so that users can filter them.

Caspian Prince of Puppy Games

Very simple changes: change “downvote” to “don’t show me this again” and of course don’t record the stats on that. Such a subtle psychological difference that makes a massive change to the mentality of the griefer. And simply make all comments proactively moderated – that is, held in a queue. These pages are for spreading the good word about a game or concept, not for shitbags to insult developers. Or even each other.

Richard Perrin , aka Locked Door Puzzle, whose exploration-based first-person puzzler Kairo is one of the first wave of games on Greenlight

Definitely need better filtering options. I know danger of ordering by rankings is that it will encourage those at the top to get even more votes. However since the idea is that the top games will be scooped off for Steam itself I don’t think it’s going to be the end of the world to let me see, for example, what this week’s top 20 voted adventure game are.

I don’t know the specifics but Kongregate and Newgrounds have some kind of initial filtering before games go onto their main listings. I believe it’s all still community driven but helps weed out the fakes and jokes. Greenlight needs something like this badly as Half Life 3 has been posted on there at least 5 times already and we’re only a day in.

Ultimately, how democratic can Greenlight be?

Dan Marshall

The trouble is, people are idiots. There are people who have been abusing the system from the second it went live. Oh hilarious, you’ve put Half Life 3 on there you have you, you wag? There are also people moaning about the stupidest things on the boards, and it’s not currently the joyful nirvana I think we’d all hoped because anyone and everyone has popped by for a peek. IN a month, maybe two, I have hopes it’ll be a tight community of Indie game enthusiasts.

Ultimately, it’s up to Valve to make sure it doesn’t just turn into an XBLIG-type affair, full of rot. At the same time, I’d hate to see rubbishy games flooding Steam. At the moment, the service feels like kind of a yardstick – if an indie game is on Steam, it’s not a shitty game, and I think that’s something they need to be careful about. I’d hate to see 4Chan getting something awful on the system using sheer numbers, or anything like that.

Thomas Hopper

The number one issue for a small time indie developer is one of discovery. Building good games is never enough, you have to have an avenue to for people to find them.

There seems to be an awful lot of half finished and very bad games on the list which makes it harder to stand out.

Also seeing some fairly well established games at the top of the list is displeasing to me for two reasons, firstly that these developers are not already on steam (as they should be) and secondly that the small fry like me are going to get buried again under a pile of games.

I think it’s obvious why Steam has created greenlight, it has become very clear that their job before of picking the gems out of the piles of utter garbage they were sent was practically impossible.

All in all, I have high hopes for the system.

Joe Wintergreen-Arthur

I’m somewhat worried that once there’re thousands of games on Greenlight we’ll get into an app-store-like situation where hard-to-find but possibly excellent games aren’t able to claw their way up to a publishable level of popularity. A big part of why InFlux is doing relatively well on there is probably my getting up at 3AM to make sure the page was up within minutes of the launch. It’s not like there aren’t measures that could be taken to help offset that, promoting games with exceptionally few pageviews maybe, but that might not happen.
Basically, I think it can be a fair system, but it’s going to take Valve very actively working to make sure it stays that way.

Luke Dicken

How democratic is Britain’s Got Talent? That’s essentially the model they’re following here – people with no proven skills being selected by people with no critical experience, and no investment in the process. Is that “fair”? Maybe I guess, it’s letting the great unwashed have their say, but it’s not necessarily fair to the dedicated developers who are trying to succeed in what’s already a fairly hellish community. With that said, take that to its logical conclusion and there /is/ a place for Greenlight, in the same way there’s a place for BGT without destroying music, it’s just that it isn’t somewhere serious artists should expect to be. For my part having seen Greenlight I’m very comfortable to ignore it and get my ducks in a row for when Kickstarter comes to the UK later in the year.

Chris Hunt

It’s all gonna depend on how Steam lays the projects out. If it has all the most popular projects on the front page then they will just get fatter and there will be a lot of hidden gems that get missed because they are on page 107 and don’t have any votes yet. Its gonna need ways to spread things around, like on Amazon when you buy a book and it goes “You may also like theessee boookksss” and you go “DAMMIT AMAZON!” and end up buying 10 books. Otherwise its all down to the developers own marketing, and indie developers suck at that, thats why they need Steam in the first place.

Caspian Prince

Just fixing those two major issues, and the third minor one of opaque stats, is all that Greenlight needs from a developer perspective to deliver mostly everything promised. As a punter, if the actual number of votes were shown rather than a % of some unknown value it’d be more useful. I’d feel like my vote counted. Look, there it is, my vote – it went up from 12,334 to 12,335. I counted.

Richard Perrin

I think the greatest trick of all this is that this isn’t really a democratic system. Steam are still going to be curating which they pick of the top voted games. The only thing that’s really changed is that now instead of having to look at thousands of games each week to make their choice they can look at the top 20 voted games and pick from those. They’re still just as unaccountable before and are well within their rights to ignore even a highly voted game if they decide they’re not interested.

Randy Smith

If Kickstarter and the App Store are any indication, a very functional version of the Greenlight concept has a good shot of being a meritocracy, helping the best concepts get noticed and approved. The thing I ask myself now is who is the current crop of voters, are they representative of most gamers’ interests, and how does Valve intend to promote superusers who can be the tastemakers? Collections is the obvious answer, and we’re already seeing some good motion there – will it be enough? Let’s hope so! This is an experiment to create a community-managed App Store equivalent for new ideas… no one can be sure how it will go!

SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE: Chris “Lemmy” Simpson of Project Zomboid dev The Indie Stone explains why he believes the ‘Collections’ feature of Greenlight might be key to its long-term success.

So the way I see it, at the moment the top collections have massively less ‘thumbs up’ than the top actual games do, which suggests the majority of people are hunting through the games themselves. Obviously this is great and many people need to do this. But at the same time rating and looking through collections, which will perhaps start to happen when the big sites start doing round ups with a link to their own collections, it will become important to get in those lists.

However those curators will be finding games from the main game list, or from other less popular lists. People find a lot of pride in finding obscure gems and would happily do the leg work to find them. This gives the game more visibility to the higher tier collections, who likewise to the higher tier, until potentially your game is on a list of 50 top RPS/Kotaku greenlight games to watch. All this without a dab of coverage, just because that guy from Tampa who finds every interesting turn based strategy game ran into it, and so-and-so from a big site keeps tabs on his collection, and so on.

Of course this is only a big deal if enough people are looking at those collections to start pushing up the numbers.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this. We’ll have more to say about Greenlight soon, I don’t doubt.

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74 Comments »

  1. Gozuu says:

    I think it’s obvious why Steam has created greenlight, it has become very clear that their job before of picking the gems out of the piles of utter garbage they were sent was practically impossible.

    Yes indeed. However, as much as this was practically impossible, it will also become inevitable that horrible games will get a lot of approvals, for whatever reasons (as one developer even mentions, 4chan).

    • Hazzard65 says:

      Yeah but it acts as a filtration system at least. I doubt very much that Valve will allow “‘Date Rape’ The Legends of the Ku Klux Kanary” even if it does get 4,000,000 votes.

      • Berstarke says:

        Let’s hope so.

        I think those projects would be barred with or without voting, but I can’t help but agree that someone could try to push a joke project like it was genuine. Most likely from a big site trying to pull a prank or so. It happened before, with other medias.

        The biggest concern is not that someone it playing with Valve’s “defenses”, but that something made for lulz could be taking the voters time and atention with their 50 Shades of Gray parody game, while actual developers with actual projects, who are working their asses off producing AND promoting their game, are not receiving the feedback they need.

        Valve has already started taking feedback and changing greenlight, which is a relief, but we have to keep payting close atention.

      • zeroskill says:

        There is a lot of confusion right now about Greenlight and how the system works, partially to the fact that some people who make loud noises around the internet arn’t really well informed. The “positive ratings percentage bar” isn’t neccessary to go up to 100% neither does that garantee your game to get on Steam. It serves as an indicater to how popular a game is. And Valve still makes the decisions. Nothing more. However the higher the bar rises one would think the possiblities to get noticed by Valve will rise. So as you said it is basically a filtering system for Valve.

        A lot of people seem to forget that Valve actually isn’t that big a company. Valve has about 250 employees as far as i’m informed, comparing that with Activision Blizzard’s almost 8000 employees. So it is understandable they seek help from the community to better choose games that go on Steam. It doesn’t mean that everybody get’s a wildcard to sell their games on the platform.

        Also just posted by the Indie Stone (Project Zomboid for those that don’t know):

        “FYI everyone downvoting doesn’t affect the %, it just removes it from your own list.”

        So i’d like the people who spread misinformation about Greenlight to get a little bit more professional (especially the ones that cry the loudest, like certain youtube channels) and inform themself about how the system works and what the intent of Greenlight is before they spread information that simply isn’t true. It’s not the appstore of kickstarter.

      • _Nocturnal says:

        Agreed, zeroskill. In fact, let’s go over some of the requests and complaints from the article:
        “Generally ways to slice all the data for quality, not just multiplayer and genre.”
        Might want to think of a better word than “quality” there. I’m pretty sure each and every one of the developers who submitted a game on Greenlight believes in its quality. I’m also pretty sure that each and every voter on there has a different notion of what a quality game is.
        “I’d like to see voting rationed so that people actually need to be selective about what they “back”.”
        So, let me get this straight, I have to pay for showing my enthusiasm about your game by not being able to show my enthusiasm about other games? Sounds fun, sign me up!
        “And simply make all comments proactively moderated – that is, held in a queue. These pages are for spreading the good word about a game or concept, not for shitbags to insult developers.”
        No. You need people. Therefore, people’s opinions come first and your feelings come second. I get that it must be unpleasant having awful comments on your project page, but the alternative means having fewer comments overall, because they’d be delayed for moderation, uncertain to be published and basically less fun to make. And even if the comments don’t decrease, you’ll be wasting much more time dealing with moderation, because you’ll need to approve or reject each comment, instead of just deleting the awful ones. All of this benefits only the people who dislike your game, incidentally.
        “Definitely need better filtering options. I know danger of ordering by rankings is that it will encourage those at the top to get even more votes. However since the idea is that the top games will be scooped off for Steam itself I don’t think it’s going to be the end of the world to let me see, for example, what this week’s top 20 voted adventure game are.”
        Forget about those at the top, think about the ones at the bottom. Ordering by ranking equates newly added projects to shit projects. Good luck getting discovered in that system. That’s the reason people can’t see how well a project has done until they’ve voted for it right now, so they can explore and judge everything by it’s own merit.
        “There are also people moaning about the stupidest things on the boards, and it’s not currently the joyful nirvana I think we’d all hoped because anyone and everyone has popped by for a peek.”
        To be honest, developers are people too. And having everyone pop by for a peek is now considered a bad thing?
        “There seems to be an awful lot of half finished and very bad games on the list which makes it harder to stand out.”
        Wait, how can a good, finished game *NOT* stand out next to lots of half-finished and very bad ones? What you probably mean is that the bad ones clutter the pages and make it harder for people to see the good ones, but as a voter I can tell you it’s not like that at all. Deciding how to vote on a bad game takes seconds, they’re the easy ones and actually contribute to a pleasant voting experience. Each rejected bad game leaves me with a higher percentage of good ones in my queue, so I feel happy about it. At the same time though, if I had a bunch of games to vote on and I knew all of them were at least half-decent, it could feel overwhelming.
        “That’s essentially the model they’re following here – people with no proven skills being selected by people with no critical experience, and no investment in the process. Is that “fair”? Maybe I guess, it’s letting the great unwashed have their say, but it’s not necessarily fair to the dedicated developers who are trying to succeed in what’s already a fairly hellish community.”
        You’re saying that as if the “great unwashed” on Greenlight are somehow different from the ones you’re trying to sell your game to. Yes, there’s a chance for a great game to fail on Greenlight, but there’s a chance for a great game to fail commercially, too. Were you expecting some kind of magic to change that, maybe?

        Now, I have to say that there were some great ideas in there as well. All of the following, I could get behind:
        “I would like the videos to be much more prominently highlighted, since that’s a very functional staple of Kickstarters but in Greenlight they get completely lost in the screenshot interface.”
        “For example, sorting by which games actually exist vs. which are just brainstorms.”
        “A more robust way of interacting with the people who take time to comment would be great.”
        “Some kind of ability to send a message to everybody who’s supported your game once it’s released would be great, since I’m kind of worried about all these new fans floating off and forgetting to buy it when it comes out.”
        “Really what I’d like is for Steam to have an ‘unapproved’ section where you can distribute/sell your game just like on Steam. Then Valve promote up the games to the curated area that do well / they like.”
        “Separation for project states: Finished, Alpha, and Concept stage games need to be clearly marked and categorised, so that users can filter them.”
        “It’s not like there aren’t measures that could be taken to help offset that, promoting games with exceptionally few pageviews maybe, but that might not happen.”
        “Its gonna need ways to spread things around, like on Amazon when you buy a book and it goes “You may also like theessee boookksss” and you go “DAMMIT AMAZON!” and end up buying 10 books.”
        “As a punter, if the actual number of votes were shown rather than a % of some unknown value it’d be more useful. I’d feel like my vote counted. Look, there it is, my vote – it went up from 12,334 to 12,335. I counted.”
        …and pretty much everything Lemmy said.

        • wengart says:

          By rationing votes I don’t think he meant to imply that you had to pay to vote. You could be limited to a certain number of votes per day or week.

          It gives value to your vote while not incurring a cost on the user.

        • _Nocturnal says:

          You won’t have to pay with money, no, but helping one game would in effect prevent you from helping another one, which is a strange restriction to have in a place like Greenlight. Why have only one of the projects succeed when they both could? Rationing votes could also discourage voting for newly added projects, because of reasons like “Who knows how long it will take for this to get the votes needed?” and “What’s the point of me wasting my vote on some unknown game if nobody else finds it?”

          • Saul Bottcher says:

            At the same time, NOT rationing means that whoever spends the most time clicking thumbs-up on Greenlight gets the most say in which games are published, regardless of whether they can afford to buy all the games they click on, or whether they intend to buy them or just “like” them.

            If that gets out of hand, it’s bad for everyone: Valve loses money doing administration on a game that doesn’t sell, developers waste time and money completing games that aren’t actually marketable, and the price of games goes up because of the wasted time/effort.

            Now, I agree that rationing puts a damper on the experience, and hey — if you can afford to buy 30 indie games, why shouldn’t you get to vote for 30 of them? What’s needed is something to bring the thumbs-up as closely in-line with “intent to purchase” as possible.

            One possibility would be to rename it “want to buy this when released”. (This could also add the game to a wishlist and automatically notify you if/when the release happens.) There are no rules forcing you to buy it, but the name of the button is more informative than a picture of a hand, so there’s a better social hint as to how you should use it.

            (I would also, if I were Valve, keep statistics on which voters DO follow-up their thumbs-up with a purchase, and use that to start calculating an “estimated purchases” stat for themselves and the dev.)

          • _Nocturnal says:

            I understand your concern, however I’m not sure that it’s valid in this case. People only ever get one vote per game, so the ones clicking “thumbs up” the most won’t actually have the most say, they’ll simply have a say on the most games. Furthermore, I don’t see any reason for giving a project “thumbs up” other than expressing your interest in a purchase. Now, from person to person that interest may have a different meaning, but the accumulation of interest sends a pretty straightforward message, which to me seems as close to actual buyers’ intent as we can get without the pledging of real money. And let’s not forget that the submissions are a finite number, so the people who vote the most will eventually run out of projects to vote on and will, in effect, have limited votes equal to the amount of new submissions.

  2. gschmidl says:

    Thumbs Down has since been replaced with “not interested”, and Steam have mentioned it doesn’t count against the games. It’s the only way to get a game out of your voting queue.

    • firewatersun says:

      There seems to be a silly issue with some people worrying about the Thumbs up button being renamed “Would you buy the game”, as they feel that it puts pressure on them to actually purchase the game when it comes out, hence alot of people downvoting games they would like to see on Steam, or would possibly buy, but do not want to commit to.

      I’m not sure if this is exactly what Valve wants, but I’ve heard it mentioned a few times.

      • Moonracer says:

        I’m really glad that they clarified the Up/Down vote function, but I agree it isn’t perfect.

        I feel especially bad for alpha projects, where there really isn’t enough to go on to decide whether I might be interested in the final project.

    • RaveTurned says:

      I agree that “not interested” is a valid function, to prevent people’s greenlight queues becoming full of games they wouldn’t be interested in but can’t otherwise express an opinion on.

      The problem seems to be one of misconception. The thumbs-down icon is still used. That gesture symbolises dislike and disapproval, and gives the idea that people can express a negative opinion that counts against the struggling developer (even though this is not the case).

      • jrodman says:

        I suspect thumbs down may actually be used in some way to create a sort order for the game. The sophisticated thing would be to do associative mapping between votes so that you would tend to get shown games that you would probably like.

        If I’m correct, then downvotes would hurt in the sense that they would reduce the chance of steam showing it to certain patterns of users.

        But maybe I’m wrong, and it only sorts on upvotes.

        I did notice the games I thought were crap tended to drift towards the back. Overall. But not uniformly.

        —-

        Regardless, I agree that the thumbsdown icon creates a sense of validity that stating negative views is a welcome action. I’m not sure what Icon I would use. Perhaps none is best.

    • HothMonster says:

      That’s good to know. I couldn’t bring myself to thumbs down anything as much as I hated it telling me I have 300+ games to look at still even though I browsed a ton of them.

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    change “downvote” to “don’t show me this again” and of course don’t record the stats on that.

    This is already done. The button’s been relabeled “No thanks / Not interested” for a while now.

  4. Lars Westergren says:

    “The trouble is, people are idiots.” Quoted for truth.

    My current annoyance is the large number of people in the forums who claim that the ability of submittors to remove comments as they see fit is censorship and abuse, and that this ability should be removed. I mean, yes, there is a risk, but the risk that angry internet people on a vendetta spam a submission with unsubstantiated claims and trolling is just so much higher.

    “Of course this is only a big deal if enough people are looking at those collections to start pushing up the numbers.”

    I also hope for collections, but they have the same problem that the submissions had pre-submission fee. There are just too many of them, many of low quality. I have one myself for the most promising strategy, RPGs and adventure titles, but I’ve refrained to post link to it because the Facebooky social media self-promotion dance annoys me. But if you know me on Steam you can find it.

    • firewatersun says:

      On the one hand, we’ve noticed that one bad comment tends to spawn more bad comments (especially the more trolly comments), but on the other hand, the community has also been really nice at hitting back at the more abusive comments, at times leaping to our defence!

      Conversely, good comments seem to spawn more good comments.

      I do think its a little unethical for developers to remove all negative comments – we leave any comment up for all to see. The only time we’d remove something is if it was something unrelated to the game., which hasn’t yet happened.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        I do think its a little unethical for developers to remove all negative comments – we leave any comment up for all to see.

        Negative comments are fine. I don’t care if people say “this looks like crap”. But personally, I’d remove abusive comments.

        For example, there’s a comment on the Zomboid page right now which begins “are you retarded”, referring to another commenter. Nope.

      • jrodman says:

        I believe users should be playing a part in identifying abusive posts. There are some users who are visiting every single game, and abusing all titles they don’t personally appreciate. That should be easy to identify algorithmically as everyone marks all their posts abusive. They could get a robo-muzzle.

        For cases where people are spewing the odd racism, misogyny and homophobia, you might need review by a moderator to handle it, but it seems worth it. I’m willing to pay my share of money to have this type of moderation done.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          It seems strange not to be able to flag comments as spam or inappropriate. That they didn’t do this reinforces my feeling that Valve just wants a community-based gauntlet, allowing them to pick from the top-voted ones.

    • dE says:

      That issue is pretty much the result of one project overshooting on the deleting thing. The specific project deleted every single criticism and claimed they were all made by an online mob coming from SA. Now, everything you’ll see on their Greenlight Page are endless piles of praise. The balancing other point of view has been and is continuously being removed. The deletion is one part but them going the length of claiming every deleted comment was only ever made as a part of an idiot flashmob is stretching it thin.

      Deleting people’s opinion AND claiming they’re all trolls – of course this will spawn controversy, what else COULD this behaviour spawn?

  5. Infinitron says:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/177123/Valves_solution_for_Steam_Greenlights_noise_A_100_fee.php#comment167831

    “A few things strike me here. First, Greenlight is not about helping USERS find your game. Greenlight is about helping VALVE know about games that aren’t currently on their service for which there is (or will be) a sizeable market. Greenlight doesn’t need discoverability tools, that’s your job as the developer. You want people to find your Greenlight page? Then make sure people know about your game!

    So many people seem to want someone else to make their game big for them. It’s not Valve’s job to get your game out there, that’s YOUR job. If you can’t figure out how to get people interested in your game, if you can’t find ways to direct them to your Greenlight page without needing Valve to do it for you, why would Valve possibly believe that your game is likely to be a commercial success on their platform?

    $100 is a complete non-barrier for anyone who is serious about making a commercially viable game. Are you making a game that has the kind of production values that a commercial PC game needs? Are you planning on having ANY marketing budget for that game post-release? Are you serious about making a game that can compete with what already exists on Steam’s service, that could show up on the front page and look like something that potential players will get excited about? Then you have $100 to get your game on Greenlight. If you don’t have enough confidence in your game or your ability to get people interested in it to spend $100 to help get it on Steam, then maybe your game was never going to have much of a shot of getting released on Steam to begin with.”

    • Baboonanza says:

      That sums it up perfectly. The $100 barrier in particular should be no obstacle to anyone who has a hope of succeeding in Greenlight.

      • Wisq says:

        Besides, if $100 is that hard to come by for you, you could just Kickstarter for it. ;)

    • InternetBatman says:

      This is exactly what I wanted to say.

    • The Random One says:

      “So many people seem to want someone
      else to make their game big for them. It’s
      not Valve’s job to get your game out there,
      that’s YOUR job.”

      Yeah, it sucks when people act as if their jobs were someone else’s responsibility. I mean, imagine if a big game distribution company wanted its collection to be curated, but instead of hiring people to do it they created a big Facebook style system and let its paying costumers wade through the chaff and only looked at the most popular ones. That would be ridiculous!

      • zeroskill says:

        Oh cry me a river.

        If they didn’t do it this way people would whine about why they don’t integrate the community is some decision making.

        • The Random One says:

          There are ways to integrate the community that don’t involve dumping your work on them like a minigame NPC in a JRPG. Merely clarifying what their criteria for acceptance or rejection were would suffice, or at least be a good start.

          • zeroskill says:

            Steam isn’t public property, they don’t have to clarify anything to you. It’s their company, they can handle it however they damn well please.

          • HothMonster says:

            Good games get accepted, bad games don’t. The community helps them sort the games into those two piles and then they look through them. If you want them to define good game and bad game for you….well good luck.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      I’ve seen good arguments on both sides and I’m still formulating my own opinion. But I’ve seen this particular argument a lot and think it jumps the gun. It’s all very well discussing whether developers who seriously want their game on Steam ought to be able to rustle up $100, given that that’s the fee right how (and I largely agree that the vast majority of developers with Steam-worthy games would be capable of putting up that money). But there’s a more fundamental question, which is whether they ought to be expected to do.

      Yes, it helps to weed out non-serious entries, but there are other ways to do that, which aren’t such a barrier to entry. So there is at least a valid question there, which is: is there a better way to do this than charging $100 in order to get a page that might, if you put in the work, get you to the point of Valve possibly considering you for Steam?

      I suspect there might be better ways, but at the moment we don’t really have the data to know for sure. It’ll be interesting to watch.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “So many people seem to want someone else to make their game big for them.”

      Now to be fair, that’s partly because they probably don’t know how to promote their game. Marketing isn’t part of the Computer Science curriculum. Or worse, if you’re teaching it to yourself, you may not make the connection at all. It’s not like books on Marketing ever address the Indie Game Publishing niche*.

      Maybe someone’s busy making the game and they don’t want to waste precious programming time on marketing. Programming is hard. Programming is a slow, slow process where you add part of one new thing and get two bugs. If you don’t stop and bugfix before you finish the new thing, you might break the whole thing. And then you need to add the next thing, but you’ll spend more time bugfixing than adding stuff. Bugfixing is, optimistically, at least half of the work.

      So you’re already working hard. Why can’t others just recognize it and let you finish the difficult part instead of making you go out and get attention? Fuck, that’s socializing. Fuck socializing. If you wanted to socialize for a living, you’d become a car salesman. You’re a programmer. You talk to computers. Telling computers what to do is hard enough, why do you need to go talk to people on top of that?

      That’s the attitude I used to have, and I’m sure others still feel that way, more or less. And it’s not completely wrong. John Carmack would have had far less success if he hadn’t had people around him to do the dirty work of marketing and stuff. In fact, almost everyone else who’s ever started as a programmer in a small company that went big has either:

      1) left before the company got too big.

      2) been forced to stop programming and do executive crap, at least for a while.

      And if you really don’t want to do executive crap or marketing because you really love programming, it’s tempting to want others to do it for you. But the truth is, if you want to succeed as an Indie, you need to figure out this marketing bullshit sooner or later. But that truth is not obvious at all, and you won’t hear it anywhere unless you pay attention to successful Indies like Cliffski and such.

      *Actually, I do have a book titled “Business and Legal Primer For Game Development”, so some are aware of the niche, but that’s not marketing: it’s legal stuff.

  6. Hyetal says:

    “Chris Hunt of Lo-Fi Games, whose squad-based, sandbox RPG Kenshi is on Greenlight

    Separation for project states: Finished, Alpha, and Concept stage games need to be clearly marked and categorised, so that users can filter them.”

    This needs to be implemented.

    • jrodman says:

      I’d say it goes a bit further. The current UI is just not appropriate for unifinished games.

      THUMBS UP OR DOWN!

      Where’s the “i’m intrigued and would like to track this.”
      Perhaps ad-hoc user-created tags would be useful (to keep their own lists organized of what they were interested in), or a way to robustly talk about what is interesting to me beyond a forgotten comment.

      A game in process you’d want to track updates, so you’d want some way to look at what’s happend over time. Of course an indie dev is probably already doing that somewhere else, but maybe you could make it easy via some REST api to synchronize them, or syndicate from another source.

      • Tssha says:

        Where’s the “i’m intrigued and would like to track this.”[button]

        That would be the “Favorite” button.

    • stonetoes says:

      I thought it was pretty brave of Chris to suggest this considering his game (Kenshi) is still in playable alpha, so to some extent it would be against his own interests if this happened.

  7. firewatersun says:

    My current issue with Greenlight is the discoverability. Our game has seen a measurable drop in pageviews since the new system was implemented of seeing a personalised game queue with only 12 games on it.

    This makes it harder for any one game to get noticed.

    That said, it does make it easier for the Greenlight users, which might put them in a better mood for rating games etc. Additionally, one could argue that it is on the developers to drive views to their page.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      I wonder if Valve are doing some a/b testing currently…. the sort order when I press “All games” seems to have changed over the days, from “most popular -> least” to “random” to “newest -> oldest”.

      Also the progress bars seem to jump up and down a little too much to be just “threshold adjustment”. I’m thinking summarizing the upvotes is a low priority background task, and we are often seeing it in progress rather than the finished sum as an atomic update.

      Still, if stuff like Cognition from the Jane Jensen studio, Contrast or Signal Ops remains at 1% for much longer I’m going to despair. I do hope Valve will cherrypick items they like from the list (though I realise this will make some people upset at the preferential treatment).

    • InternetBatman says:

      I don’t think Greenlight is really about discoverability. It’s about games that were rejected from Steam with a strong fanbase or critical acclaim being able to make themselves more noticeable. Once you’re on Steam, the front page largely takes care of discoverability. By the way, what’s the name of your game?

      I think the concept part, when implemented, will be more about building that fanbase.

    • jrodman says:

      Well, while it’s topical, remind us which is yours. It’s your job to get potential users voting your page up ;-P

  8. Dominic White says:

    A common complaint seems to be that Steam is a heavily curated store, but as I said in the last Greenlight discussion, that’s precisely the reason why it’s such a coveted achievement for an indie developer to get their game on it.

    iTunes has effectively zero discoverability, and Apple won’t help you market your game at all once you’re out there. Steam only adds 1-2 new items a day and promotes them actively, as well as helping developers tune pricing and involving them in discount events. There’s a reason why even super-niche things like Analogue: A Hate Story sell boatloads on Steam, while thousands of games a year are lost in the yawning chasm that is the App Store.

    Valve carefully picking and choosing what games they think will sell best is exactly why Steam is such a hugely powerful market force.

    • Alexandros says:

      Agreed! After witnessing the flood of amateurish games during the first few days, I’m now very happy that Valve is curating the store.

  9. Hoaxfish says:

    When I see a game I want, I say yes (or whatever the label is at the moment)
    When I see a game which frankly looks like shit, I say no.
    What I want, is that when I see a project that “might” develop into something interesting, I want to flag that for “check later”.

    I know you can effectively say “yes” to keep track of it, then “no” later if it turns out bad later, but mentally it’s not the same thing (and mixes in with all your “yes, I mean yes” votes). I suppose I could “favourite” it, but that’s yet another mixed definition.

    I’d like to see distinct Unseen, Voted for, Check Later categories.

    I can understand “no” being some effective feedback in terms of “X many people looked at this, but they don’t like what you’re doing”. Hopefully the dev can interpret how to go from there (change the project to try for a larger audience, or understand the niche/profit size they should expect).

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      A “maybe” button seems like a good idea. It gives a bit of feedback that says “based on the information on this page, I might be interested, but I’m not sure – let me know when there’s more information”.

      • BlackestTea says:

        I agree. There are so many projects that might be interesting, but at this stage there is no telling whether i would buy them. Right now, i just upvote all of them. But it is truly a pain to go through the queue and hit a game that you don’t want to vote for either way, because it will go back to it whenever you selected “next game in queue” on a different item. I really hope they implement a “maybe” or pass-over button, also for games that frankly don’t concern me. It’s often not that I “don’t like” what a certain dev is doing, but it’s simply not my cup of tea, but I don’t want to downvote it, because it might be really cool for others.

    • AmateurScience says:

      It strikes me that this could morph into something even better. Adding a function to let greenlighters send out limited surveys or questionnaires to people who said ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ find out what they think, get their feedback during development, and even involve them in QA. Really turn it into a two way street.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I would like a maybe button too or even just a pass button.

    • Alexandros says:

      Personally I just don’t vote on games that I’m not sure if I like or not. That way they stay on my list and I can see if the developer follows up with updates.

    • ffordesoon says:

      This.

      Greenlight’s been pretty remarkable so far, I think. The lack of a “Maybe/Check In Later” button is really the main sticking point for me right now, because you don’t want to just say “YOUR GAME SUCKS LOL” sometimes.

      If the “Maybe” button removed things you weren’t sure about just yet from your queue for, say, 100 days, that would be smart, I think. And the developers could track the maybes, and budget their time around fixing the presentation for the presumable influx of returning undecideds. And maybe it could reappear at the top of any queue you generated after that time, thereby reminding you to go check on the project.

      Oh, and collections need to allow you to vote on multiple games at once, as in the Workshop. I can see why they haven’t implemented that system, and I wouldn’t want the exact same system as the one on Steam Workshop, because I don’t want to say I’ll definitely buy fifty games without knowing what I’m backing. But if I could approve of each game in a long list individually, as with mods in the Workshop, I would definitely upvote things within a curated RPS collection. That would also take care of the big hurdle right now, which is the time it takes to go to each game’s separate page and upvote it. Being able to pick and choose from “name” critics’ picks would help discoverability a whole hell of a lot.

  10. Grey Ganado says:

    So, what does Peter Molyneux think?

    • The Random One says:

      He’s working on a new game, “Contribution”. You’ll have to pay $100 to apply and you’ll only be able to actually play if enough players give you thumbs up. The number of thumbs up needed to join will vary wildly and not even Pete himself will know what it is precisely.

  11. Midroc says:

    4chan getting Something Awful on the system? Why would 4chan help Something Awful?

    • Tei says:

      4chan, SA and Reddit hare like 3 brothers. Reddit is the small one, somewhat childish, SA is the middle one, a friendly jerk and 4chan is the old one, mosly crazy. All 3 have different ways and suspect on each another, but have the same twisted sense of humour. A lot of them made popular that horse game and that trains game for no reason other than lulz.

  12. jrodman says:

    I am hopeful that they will lower the fee to something more managable, such as 20 dollars. That would still annoy some, but would be unlikely to be a significant barrier for anyone.

    • Wisq says:

      I strongly believe that if you can’t raise $100, you’re not ready for Steam. It’s not just a new form of Kickstarter.

      Besides, aren’t you generally expected to basically already have a viable game, and this is just about getting it onto the Steam platform? If you can’t get $100 in sales the old fashioned way, then what hope do you have of being viable on Steam?

      • jrodman says:

        It just seems sort of unconscionable to me to demand 100 dollars to toss your hat into the current trollfest.

      • Shivoa says:

        If you can’t make money outside of this big store to pay the fee to get into the store then you’re not viable. Expand the big store to 99% of sales and keep saying that, then 99.9% is via the big store consortium; at that point you’re saying only those with cash to burn on the store raffle process can have access to the customers (who may only shop at the big stores due to their known secure and dependable systems with the big point being ‘known’ in that positive list of attributes).

        The real question is do we want to only games that you can buy on Steam to be ones developed by people who will throw $100 at their chance of a popularity content just for a pitch meeting that may end up with their game being made available to Steam users? Or do we want Steam to contain some niche treasures, some products of effort but not wealth (on the global wealth scale then $100 isn’t pennies), that are only viable thanks to the large net of customers that Valve have captures who are happy to give their credit card details to the trusting face of Steam?

        But all fee-focussed comments should really be in the other thread, this should be about discussing the above interviews.

        • HothMonster says:

          But if it’s really a niche treasure and you are ready to try to sell that treasure to the masses, don’t think you think you will already have a big enough community to give you 100 bucks?

          I mean if I had a niche game advertised on my website and I have a small community of people following the game and highly interested in it you don’t think I could get 20 of them to give me 5$ in exchange for a steam key if I make it? 115$ dollar kickstarter project? A donate to help me make it to steam button?

          Really by the time you post to greenlight you should have a big enough community to help you push your game or you will probably get lost in the haystack.

          5$ from 20 people or 10$ from 10 surely can’t be that hard if you really have a treasure, you just have to find a small part of your niche audience before being ready for greenlight.

  13. jrodman says:

    Sadly I had to downvote Super Skull Smash (days ago) because I couldn’t figure it out, and greenlight is such a huge pile that I was only spending around 20 seconds to figure out a title on average.

    I think the level of information available in a rock paper shotgun article is FAR more useful to evaluate a game than a youtube video is, but it takes orders of magnitude more investment for both the creator and the consumer of such information.

    Perhaps steam has capped the space or text length so this level of description isn’t even possible?

    • jrodman says:

      Oh, and it case it isn’t clear, downvoting is the only real way to mark something as already looked at.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        Except it’s not actually down-voting. It’s just marking it as “not interested”. The change to the button text makes that pretty clear, though the thumbs down icon should probably go.

  14. Alexspeed says:

    Regarding Collections on Steam Greenlight… anyone interrested in a nice overview
    of some of the good stuff is welcome to check the Collection i have created:

    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=93555566

  15. Shivoa says:

    I don’t understand why people (including some of the interviewed) think that getting the votes means you get a slot on Steam. The voting system is to get in front of Valve, not for a yes to being on Steam.

    If SA goons or 4chan or whoever wanted to get anything a million votes then they could, and it would take all of 10 minutes for someone at Valve to see this meteoric project and decide if it was a good fit for Steam. The system is to reduce the work at Valve sifting through entries, not replace the curation done by Valve in deciding who gets onto the store. There is no problem if a percentage of the games on there are not a good fit and that doesn’t change with people being voted for them unless the system changes and votes change into something that automatically triggers acceptance onto Steam (which is not how the system is advertised as working).

    This isn’t XBLIG peer review, this is community voting for who gets to have a pitch meeting with Valve and show them their publisher demo reel/completed project. The projects people seem so afraid of making it onto Steam will be culled at the pitch meeting if the Greenlight public process fails to cull them so stop worrying about doing everything possible to cull as early as possible. Compared to the previous process (get someone in the press to see your game and report on it, leverage coverage to get a meeting with Valve to pitch or even take the chance on a good blind email and hope someone reads it and is interested) this is massively reducing the time needed by Valve to find content (we can only hope they use some of that extra time to go hunting for interesting niche titles that won’t win a popularity contest and may even comes from unusual sources without the inclination or capacity to pay for their raffle ticket (at which point we’re off-topic and into the fee stuff that we shouldn’t talk about in this thread)).

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think the idea lies in the fact that for devs it’s now the only way to get onto Steam. The previous submission and Valve-employee reviewed system is blocked to them (I think someone mentioned a previously submitted product had been told they’d have to resubmit onto Greenlight even).

      • Shivoa says:

        That is exactly right; this is the only way of getting a pitch interview with Valve unless you have a pre-existing relationship. This is the only way for an indie to get onto the (possibly 95% of sales from some dev numbers) majority digital platform for indie PC games and get their game within a click of the buy button of a lot of customers.

        http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/FAQ.php

        My issue is with how many people seem to think that the existence of an item on Greenlight and potential to be voted to a pitch meeting is the same as that game automatically getting onto Steam irrelevant of troll status, quality, or suitability for the platform (steam distribution agreement terms and conditions). That simply isn’t the case.

  16. MythArcana says:

    Everyone is flocking to get their Money Hat. Valve is really enjoying being the 800 lb. gorilla in the industry apparently. Fark Valve and fark their Greenlight project. It’s turning into a laughable circus by their efforts.

  17. tigerfort says:

    I’m definitely with Chris Hunt that separating the titles into “This is finished and (ready) for sale”, “We have an unfinished but playable game”, and “I had one of those idea thingies” would definitely be useful. I’m happy to spend some time sorting through the first two categories (especially where there’s some kind of demo), but my background in book publishing leaves me suspecting that 99% of the third class will never actually reach playability, never mind getting finished.

  18. JustGamer says:

    To thing is I want everyone to vote for Neo-Tokyp source. It’s a masterpiece please look into it and vote for it because it is worthy to be standalone.

  19. Rise / Run says:

    re: thumbdowns and “vote rationing” ideas — why not combine them? You get 10 votes per unit time, a vote up costs 1 vote, a vote down costs 5 (or 10). This, of course, is assuming that there is some mysterious good reason for thumbdown that nobody has recognized (I certainly can’t think of one, but I’ll assume Valve has some use for it).

  20. somnolentsurfer says:

    If Valve want to give me a job, I promise to keep my desk in the ‘curating Steam’ room for at least the first year and a half.