By Nathan Grayson on July 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am.
Recently, Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail told me that he thinks Greenlight is “the worst thing that’s ever happened to Steam”. I don’t think all developers feel quite as strongly, but Valve’s kinda crowd-sourced attempt at game curation has certainly ruffled some creatorly feathers. It’s not particularly transparent with gamers either, leaving it in a rather unenviable position all around. So first, the good news: Valve is well aware, and it wants to make things better. But, uh, they kinda said something similar last year, and things are still pretty dire. So.
“The primary problem right now is that we simply cannot ship as many games as we’d like. There are many reasons for that, but at the end of the day, those don’t really matter to you, the developers, and nor should they. What matters is that we give customers the chance to buy your games and let them vote with their dollars. We realize that we are failing in this regard and are working to fix it.”
He further explained that the goal right now is to automate many processes and put more tools in the hands of developers. That way, Valve’s relative lack of manpower won’t be such a hindrance. Bui noted, for example, that developers can now edit their own store pages, a power of divine bureaucratic might once reserved only for Valve – via extremely time-consuming back-and-forth emails. Apparently before that, some of their processes actually used fax machines.
Valve’s central intent? To speed up everything, a point that it’s somewhat ironically taken Valve a very, very long time to reach. Fingers crossed that old man Newell’s magical game factory can put the necessary spring in its step, because right now this is a losing proposition for everyone. Developers, gamers, and Valve. I appreciate that Greenlight’s at least gotten a little better from a usability standpoint, but the overarching fundamental issues still stick out like a forest of purple and black thumbs. I like what Bui’s saying, but some real, sweeping change is in order. Baby steps will only get us so far.