Greenlight

By Shamus
on Sep 13, 2012
Filed under:
Video Games

One of the most common conversations I had at PAX East 2012 was with indies who were trying to get their title onto Steam. They were all in different stages of the process, from “waiting for their material to be reviewed” to “trying to get Valve to respond to their emails”. There were so many young people with interesting projects, and they were sinking a lot of time and effort into trying to get through the Valve gatekeepers instead of building, polishing, or marketing their game.

The problem is that Steam is the best place for an indie to be, there are a lot of indies, and Valve can’t handle the volume of applicants. So when Steam announced Project Greenlight just a few months later, I was very excited. However, Chris makes some really interesting points about Greenlight here:


Link (YouTube)

While we’re talking about Greenlight and its barriers to entry, I should probably mention Organ Trail, which you might remember from my PAX write-up. It’s trying to get Green-lit, and currently has 6% of the required votes.


Link (YouTube)

Look at the voting page. I can go to the page and vote yes, but I can’t see how well the game works or how much it will cost. You’re literally casting your vote based on, “Do you like this gameplay synopsis and screenshots?” This sort of superficial judgement is already going on in the AAA gaming industry, and that type of simplistic thinking is exactly what we’re fleeing from when we turn to indies.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!202010250. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. Infinitron says:

    The problem is that Steam is the best place for an indie to be

    It is, but nevertheless, Steam is not an indie platform. Steam is the best place for an indie to be because by being there, it gains the visibility and credibility of an AAA title. In other words, it’s the best place for an indie because it’s not indie.

    Indies on Steam are like geeks who somehow manage to get themselves invited to the frat party. It’s nice when it happens, but it’s not the usual order of things.

    • It really depends what you mean when you say indie. If your image of Steam is a store that should only allow games that were funded by one of the established publishers (a cash supply created in the world before DD where you needed someone who was an expert in manufacturing and shipping product to a limited shelf-space ecosystem) then it seems like a really weird and arbitrary limitation. What about self-funded by rich developers or venture capital funded? Are they AAA or indie? Should we ask for receipts to show the game was funded to the level of AAA to let games onto Steam?

      If an indie games was accepted onto Steam and not given any advertising on the platform (access to the front page restricted to the metric based lists so the market would decide if it was worth visibility) so the only way to find it was via search then how would it hurt the platform? How does preventing a product from being given the capitalist value metric (sales) give you a sense of the worth of the product? Surely the point of a store with infinite shelves is to stock everything legal and promote anything they desire to promote?

      • Infinitron says:

        I do think Steam could survive the transition to becoming an open platform. I also think much of its advantage to indie games that do manage to get in would be lost if this happened.

      • PurePareidolia says:

        My take on the issue as someone studying business is that this would be true except that Steam’s image is part of it’s desirability. People see Steam as being of higher quality than the app store or XBLA and rightly so – because it has high barriers to entry. Letting anyone with a game idea on Steam is a great way to be open to everyone, but it also means a lot of low quality, subpar games being run on the same platform as the good ones. It drives the signal to noise ratio up, which ultimately discourages people from browsing and taking a chance on a game. Would you be more likely to buy something with a 50% chance of being good or a 10% chance?

        The purpose of the $100 fee and the popularity contest is that quality control keeps their platform looking good. It’s the big leagues and even though it hasn’t always made the greatest choices with regards to who it lets through, having that stamp of quality is pretty important to it. In addition, it filters out joke games and troll projects which they aren’t going to accept anyway and just clutter up their inboxes.

        Finally, although there’s value in the youtube model where anyone can enter, a barrier to entry means indie developers can’t be lazy with how they develop their game. They need the entrepreneurial skills and commitment to their goal to have a chance, because if they don’t have those, chances are their game is going to be lacking. Maybe it’ll have incompatibility issues, or bugs that never get fixed because the developer’s moved on too soon. Those things translate into Steam support calls and more work for them down the line.

        Obviously stuff like the fee will translate to people with great ideas falling through the cracks, but the thing is, there are ways to go into business that don’t involve being broke and waiting for people to throw money at you. Getting a loan, kickstarting the funds, borrowing from someone – actually starting and running your own company generally costs a lot more than $100 but people do it. This is not to mention that the PC’s a platform where you can sell your game anywhere at no cost. It’s 10 sales at $10 – virtually nothing compared to the return on investment Steam can give you. Is it really that hard?

        Sure if it’s a free mod or something, but the fee is one time only and you can make a paid game first then post whatever you want.

        I haven’t tried submitting stuff on it – maybe I’m off base, but I feel like there’s a lot of merit to Steam’s approach that gets overlooked in the haste to call it unfair for having a barrier to entry.

        • Abnaxis says:

          You said what I just said below, only much better.

          +1

          • Thomas says:

            Wouldn’t the best solution though be to make a partial seperate publishing area, call it say ‘Steam Greenlight’ where there are almost no costs to entry, linked from Steam but not mixed in with the main Steam library. And then if a game does well there and is popular it can be ‘promoted’ to the big league.

            Saying all this though, this would be Valve expanding into an area which they don’t currently have. And since they’ve got a system of work with no organised workforce, no-one devising long term strategy and no-one forced to work on a project they might not find interesting, asking them to make a concerted effort to producing a Youtube like experience for games is a bit much. This is the sort of thing where you need the organisation of EA crossed over with some Valve soul and flexibilty. So Google. Who have an app store that does this.

            • Hitchmeister says:

              Thomas has a brilliant idea. And I say so not just because I posted virtually the same thing below, a few minutes later, but before reading his comment.

              • MichaelG says:

                The problem with a YouTube of PC games in one word: malware. There’s no way I’d download something that hasn’t been checked by someone! at a company with something to lose.

                • Paul Spooner says:

                  Well, or someone you know and trust. I mean, people download your builds, and you don’t really have all that much to loose. Granted, you’ve got the open source code, but no one is going to comb through every line of the source before trying it out.

                  The point is well taken though. It would be far to easy to abuse a completely open distribution platform.

                  • MichaelG says:

                    I wish there were a solution for my project other than Javascript and WebGL (if that’s even a solution.)

                    Out of 1000 regular readers, less than 50 download my demos. I assume some of that is fear of bad code, despite it being open source and obviously a hobby project.

                    • chiefnewo says:

                      Personally I don’t download your demos because I tend to read your updates at work. I’m also more interested in reading how you solved problems rather than the actual product at the moment.

                    • Exetera says:

                      I usually download your demos when they do something new and interesting – I tried the networked demo, for example – but I don’t usually get excited enough by the small iterations to bother downloading.

                    • Blake says:

                      I’m mostly there for the reading. Once there’s more of a game I may download the source (or if I find myself hitting an issue you’ve solved and want to see what you did), but being someone who works on games anyway I don’t feel any compulsion to get the source of something new.

                      Keep up the posts though, I’m an avid reader ;)

              • For the record: I prefer “Steam Indie”.

                The worst part about the malware discussion is that it’s really easy to hide malware if you want to or to unwittingly release damaging programs. Enough so that I bet it would happen if Steam went free.

        • Ateius says:

          PurePareidolia makes excellent points, and I agree with pretty much all of it.

          I just want to add one thing: Chris, don’t call being dismissive of $100 “White collar privilege”. I live from paycheck to paycheck, and you know what I do if I want an extra $100? I shave a sliver off my weekly budget until the savings add up. If I can do it, an indie dev can do it – and as others have mentioned, there’s nothing stopping them from putting their game up for sale elsewhere in the meantime.

          • Again, I think Chris is probably speaking from personal experience about very small developers who make a great game with a lot of work but may have very little disposable income available on what is essentially a gamble. I can say that, for my small business, I am VERY reticent to spend a lot on advertising.

            • False Prophet says:

              This. For the same $100, you can join the Apple Developer Program and have your iOS game pretty much guaranteed a place in the App Store so long as it meets some very basic criteria (i.e. it runs, it isn’t malware, it isn’t too sexy, and it’s not doing anything illegal). So why would you spend $100 for the chance to be scrutinized by a peanut gallery of anonymous internet commenters who may or may not approve your game for distribution? It’s a gamble, not a fee.

              If, as some have suggested, Greenlight is Valve’s attempt to snag the next Angry Birds, then it’s a good way to ensure the next Angry Birds will be on iOS.

          • krellen says:

            You have a weekly paycheck; your job pays. Game development is a job, even if you’re an indie developer, and for the indie developers, the job only pays AFTER the game sells. Many do not HAVE paychecks to save a sliver of.

            • Abnaxis says:

              If a game developer quit their day job and decided to start developing a game without first acquiring money for the cost of start-up and the cost of living to hold them until their investment pays off, how did they even produce the game to begin with?

              You can’t create a product without sinking resources in it. Period. Even if all the programming and quality testing is done by you, you are still incurring the opportunity cost inherent in working on the game instead of working for a paycheck. Compared with all the other costs development incurs, $100 is marginal and easily obtained.

              • krellen says:

                And this is why it’s being referred to as white collar privilege.

                • Abnaxis says:

                  What exactly are you referring to as “this”?

                  Everyone is making it out like publishing games on Steam is a personal transaction. It’s not. It’s a transaction between one business (the developer, even if they are only one person it is a business) and another (Steam). It’s not any more unfair for Steam to charge for Greenlight than it is for a machine shop to charge for a plastic mold for making parts. That is just the cost of doing business.

                  You’ll find no shortage of horror stories from small-business owners–most of which had way, WAY higher costs than a budding indie developer–who often went hungry during the first year of their endeavor. That’s the nature of entrepreneurship.

                  • newdarkcloud says:

                    Except in the analogy of the plastic mold, you are guaranteed to get a physical product out, or at least one step closer to one.

                    In the case of Greenlight, you aren’t guaranteed anything by investing your money into it. It is essentially a lottery ticket. The same anti-troll policies could be successfully executed at a price of $20 and with fewer people being left out.
                    I can see people having problems with $100, but I cannot imagine that $20 would be too significant.

                    • Abnaxis says:

                      You are most certainly not guaranteed to sell enough plastic parts to pay for the mold, however. There is risk and there is the potential that taking the risk does not bring fruit either way. That is fundamentally how entrepreneurship works.

                    • roymacIII says:

                      Should we compare it, instead, to submitting a college application? To hiring an agent to try to get acting work or a novel published?

                      The entire *issue* here marinated, roasted, and glazed in white collar privilege, but we’re going to act like the $100 cost is somehow more so? If you don’t have a day job, and you’re able to try to make a living as a game developer? You’ve got some kind of white collar privilege. You have to have been able to afford a computer (probably a decent computer), first of all.

                      Yes, the $100 is a barrier. It’s supposed to be. That’s the entire purpose of it. It’s an application fee. There was no guarantee that I would get into the colleges I applied to. Was it a gamble? Certainly. But it’s also a known cost of doing that type of business.

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      That’s a valid comparison, I would think.

                      The question becomes now what price is the best one to accomplish the goals Greenlight was created to accomplish. What is the goal of Greenlight? I think this might be the source of contention among the comments here.
                      Some of us think that it was to help Indie devs get on Steam. If that was the case, then $100 might be too prohibitive.
                      Some of us think that it was to help Valve go through submissions faster. In that case, $100 fee makes a world of sense.
                      It’s probably somewhere in the middle, but now we have to wonder which one is the major motive.

                      Also, I paid at the most $30 for a single application. Colleges need to cull the list, but they also need to stay competitive. That’s why application fees are rarely that high. In this case, Steam only part of a small group of competitors and dominating.

                      I have no idea where I’m going with this, so I’ll just stop.

                • Ateius says:

                  Please define exactly how Abnaxis’ post is “white collar privilege” rather than throwing the phrase around like it’s the latest fashion from Hot Topic.

                  • Kerin says:

                    Seconded. And what I don’t think people get is this: if you can’t find ten people who care enough about your game to put $10 in, it’s guaranteed that no one is going to vote for it on Greenlight itself. $100 is only a barrier for an individual with a product nobody wants.

                    Or to put it another way, any developer who has to pay the fee out of pocket is bound to fail.

        • Loonyyy says:

          Yeah, +1 to this.

          Also, Steam did mention that their $100 entry barrier was in place because they were being flooded with either:
          1) Troll entries and jokes, spam and the like.
          2) Stolen content.

          Their making it impossible to spam the system with fakes by making it expensive. And they donate that fee to Child’s Play. I really think that any gamer (And I’d expect most indie devs to be gamers) who can’t afford to give $100 to charity is a bit odd. What’s the fee for being on the App store? I heard it’s a yearly thing.

          • Alexander The 1st says:

            $99/year.

            The problem with the $100 fee is that it’s effectively a lottery ticket, which means that unlike Apple’s system, you’re not even given a guarantee that they will look at your game.

            It’s like Lego Cuusoo…with an entry fee.

        • Klay F. says:

          Unfortunately, the prevailing wisdom regarding Steam being of higher quality is complete and utter bullshit. People are just too caught up in worshiping GabeN like he is the second coming of christ to worry about those annoying facts.

  2. X2Eliah says:

    I really dislike Greenlight because it is, essentially, a damn popularity contest/reality show. It’s not about the best games “winning” (going up for sale), it’s about the ones that can abuse social media-whoring the best, and the ones that can play the crowds. NOTHING in the voting process is related to the game itself, imo, and I bet you that most voters on there are just going with what seems to already rank high.

    Here’s a thing: If a game is popular, people will buy it, if it is not popular, people won’t buy it. Why can’t the buying/selling process be the measure of success, why does Steam ask for these “pre-sale” endorsements? Just let it up on steam, if it sucks, then the game will have low sales and appropriate publicity. You can’t argue that “steam only lets quality games on their store”, because 1) Greenlight does jack poop about quality, and 2) Steam *does* have many seriously rubbish games, subjectively and objectively.

    • Robyrt says:

      Exclusivity is as important as quality for Steam’s brand. They don’t want to end up with the Netflix instant viewing problem, where 90% of the stuff on the system is terrible and the only page users ever see with relevant content is the search results page. Steam has a high enough concentration of AAA hits and indie darlings that the front page usually has a game you’ve heard of in the center and another one in the right pane on sale. If that stops happening, they start losing business.

      • King Lysandus says:

        Maybe what we really need is something different from steam. Valve could spin Greenlight off into its own product. Like Steam it would be a digital distribution program for (indie) games, offering them as free or cheap downloads.

        Even better, spin some Pandora tech in there, and let users build a “preference profile.” Have you ever seen Steam’s user reccomendations? Valve is trying to do something like that anyway…

      • chiefnewo says:

        Add to that the fact that Steam’s interface past the front page is so pathetically crap that you’d never be able to find anything beyond what was already popular.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Why can’t it be it’s own separate page? Once you get enough sales, then it can move onto Steam’s regular store. There are better ways to go about it than Steam did.

          Someone below me mentioned demos. That would be a great idea.

    • Dave B. says:

      That’s why I had kind of assumed that greenlight would only feature finished games, with playable demos. A quick read of the service’s description show that is not the case, but I think it should be. I don’t know how to make a decision about a game’s quality until I’ve seen/experienced some actual gameplay. I get what they’re trying to do, but I need more to go on than a few screenshots and a marketing write-up.

    • LintMan says:

      If Steam was an open platform of the type you’re advocating, it would quickly fill up with shovelware and worse. Built a crappy flash game in 4 hours? Slap it up on Steam! Then make a copy, change the sprites a bit, rename it something trendy-sounding or similar to an already-popular game, and slap that up on Steam too! Lather, rinse, repeat.

      It’s the spam issue, but with games instead of email: if the “cost of entry” is too low, it’s cost effective to spam out crud and make a living as a bottom feeder.

      Fan voting isn’t ideal, but the original approval path to get onto Steam still remains for those who can’t/won’t do Greenlight. And in terms of marketing, it doesn’t seem like that bad an idea that if you can’t get enough fans to vote for your game, how will you get them to actually buy it?

      • Thomas says:

        The spam thing is easily fixed, ever looked at Kongregates newly submitted game section?
        http://www.kongregate.com/games?sort=newest

        Easily a case of Sturgeons Laws. I used to trawl through it and the best thing you’d see in a day was made using flash buttons without any kind of collision detection even.

        But you never see that when looking through the actual site, because the ratings systems function properly and the good games rise to the top.

        It’d be harder because people pay, but the app stores manage (ish) and it’s peasy to protect the main steam library from this. Worst comes to worst, it only becomes visible on a search after it’s sold say 500 copies or something.

        The malware problem is harder to deal with. I’ve got no answers to that, I don’t know how the app stores manage it, but I’m guessing they employ a lot of people and it’s easier with phones (and there’s still a decent fail rate).

  3. Ben says:

    Maybe owning the youtube of videogames just isn’t what valve wants to do? Having a million games that they haven’t properly done QA for, taking people’s money to sell them crappy games, and then having to deal with customer support for the games that aren’t even worth $.99?

    Here’s my biggest issue with it: What would be the difference between being buried on a completely open steam and just being buried somewhere out on the internet today? Valve isn’t STOPPING anyone from publishing a game. Anyone can setup a google checkout for people to pay for it and distribute an exe. If you’d be able to get popular on this theoretical open steam, then you can get popular on the internet as it exists today, while valve can keep steam the platform in the niche they want it to be, rather than being redundant with existing services.

    • Infinitron says:

      Here’s my biggest issue with it: What would be the difference between being buried on a completely open steam and just being buried somewhere out on the internet today?

      Bingo. Well said.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I would also like to second posters above . If Steam just put any and all games straight on their page with zero vetting, they would not be doing anything for anyone.

      I have never, never watched a video on Youtube or downloaded an app that I didn’t hear recommended somewhere else first. There is just too much crap to filter through, and I don’t have the patience (or the money in the case of apps) to filter it myself. To me, adding a process to filter out the cruft is a value-added service that I appreciate, since Google will give me all the indie games on the internet without filtering if that’s what I really wanted.

      • Ateius says:

        Let’s expand on this Youtube analogy. Chris puts up the logos for four shows to represent the “good stuff” on Youtube. Pop quiz: How many did you recognize?

        Three, right? Zero Punctuation, Extra Credits and Errant Signal. Why those three? Because those three were picked up by sites with more exclusive standards for their video content (ZP->Escapist, Extra Credits->Escapist, Errant Signal->here). They’re not famous because of Youtube, they’re famous because they rose above Youtube.

        Steam is not the Youtube of indie games. There are lots of places already that serve that purpose. Steam is the cut above. Steam is the exclusive platform for the best coded and most popular games.

        Getting on Steam is not the beginning of an indie game’s journey, it is the culmination of its success.

        • JPH says:

          Your argument instantly falls apart for me because I recognized all four.

          • Infinitron says:

            Uh, no it doesn’t.

            • Sumanai says:

              It does however fall apart in the “the cut above”. Steam has just as much shovelware and cash grab games as, say, Gamers Gate, Gog.com or Green Man Gaming. Hidden object games, buggy pieces of crap like many of the “X Simulator” games and so on. 90% of Steam is crud the same way 90% of everything is crud, and if there was a mention worthy quality check it would be very obvious from the fact that the service would only have a few dozen games and would get maybe four games each month and “triple A” titles would not be guaranteed entry.

              Steam is a good place to be because it’s popular and some refuse to buy games from individual sites or other video game content services. This has nothing to do with the average quality of the games in the service, but rather familiarity with the system and not wanting to hand out credit card details to multiple locations.

              In the hypothetical situation where the level of quality on Steam would drop in a meaningful way, you could still have two “stores” inside, one “free range” and one heavily controlled.

              • krellen says:

                I bought a AAA game off Steam that literally did not work at all (Dawn of War 2 – GFWL would absolutely not start up and this locked me out of the ENTIRE game). Even being AAA isn’t a guarantee against being absolute garbage.

              • Ateius says:

                Okay, let’s leave the quality alone. That wasn’t meant to be the thrust of it, and you’re right, there are some real stinkers to be found (although I personally certainly don’t put that number at 90%).

                The Youtube analogy is the important part. Youtube vs. other sites. ZP is lost in the noise on Youtube. Extra Credits is lost in the noise on Youtube. Errant Signal is lost in the noise on Youtube. They achieve visibility by being picked up and rebroadcast on other, non-video-dumping sites: Escapist Magazine, Penny Arcade, Twenty Sided.

                Steam is the Escapist, the Penny Arcade, the Twenty Sided. It’s valuable to be on Steam because you’re not in a big index with 6,000 other retro-pixel platformers, you’re next to Call of Duty, Total War and Skyrim. You stand out. This point has been made by many others in the thread: Steam’s desirability is its relative exclusivity. Being on Steam is good precisely because Steam is not Youtube. Throwing open the gates to everyone and their grandmother’s small indie project is just going to create a catastrophic signal-to-noise overload and lose the advantage of being on Steam in the first place: That you’re not alongside thousands of other indies.

                • Thomas says:

                  But all of those were only picked up, because they already built up a popular youtube following. That’s what the analogy is missing, Extra Credits, ZP and Errant Signal were all huge hits on Youtube and picked up because of that.

                  In fact Errant Signal doesn’t owe it’s popularity to any reputable site. It owes its popularity because it got recommended by Total Biscuit, a fellow youtuber who commands hundreds of thousands of people who follow his link. Chris was doing okay, but I think he might even have mentioned that he got a rise after that.

                  Besides, we can just look at all the content producers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, almost all of those were born and bred youtubers whose success is entirely down to Youtube. I bet almost none of the top 100 producers worked with other sites to get where they are. And now we’ve got people like Tobuscus being famous enough to present an E3 conference.

                  Chris is right, the systems are there if this is what you want to do. Sure some gems on Youtube get missed, but plenty of people find what they want on the site everyday

                  • Ateius says:

                    But that’s the point. They struggle for success on Youtube, find it (or in ZP’s case make two whole videos and get snapped up instantly) and are rewarded by a gig with a larger site with a dedicated audience where they aren’t fighting for attention with thousands of competitors. That’s what Greenlight is – the last stage of the Youtube popularity contest (which starts when you release your game elsewhere on the ‘net, it’s not like Steam demands exclusivity for this stuff) to get yourself a position on the digital distribution throne.

                    Yes, it’s possible to be successful on Youtube alone, just as it’s possible to succeed without Steam (hi Notch!). What’s important is the delineation. You wouldn’t want the Escapist or Penny Arcade or Twenty Sided to throw their sites open to let anyone with an idea post a video, right? It would dilute the content and create a catastrophic signal:noise overload. They’d end up being just like Youtube, a constantly milling sewer where occasionally something worthwhile struggles, gasping, to the surface.

                    There are already places to serve as the Youtube of indie games. Let Steam be the Penny Arcade, and choose only the most promising and popular gems to showcase in its crown.

          • Eljacko says:

            Consider Game Grumps, in this analogy, to be the indie title that becomes famous despite never being picked up. Like Minecraft, kind of. Except nowhere near as good as Minecraft.

  4. brunothepig says:

    I agree with your final comments, and it’s why I want to see Steam encourage stuff like expected price and demo. If I have a filter option to only see games that offer a demo and/or a price point then it encourages more games to do this. And I do see a few games with demos, which is nice.

    At the same time, I think the Greenlight setup makes a lot of sense. From Steam’s perspective, the important thing is would people buy it. The Greenlight page is very similar to the Store page, not unintentionally I’d bet. Screenshots, videos and a description is usually what people have to go on when deciding to purchase a game, so for Steam why would Greenlight be different.

    Just a note, I haven’t watched the video yet. I plan to, just can’t right now.

  5. Zeta Kai says:

    The cherry on that crap-cake is that in order to vote, you need to sign up & sign in to their services. I like the concept, I like the retro art style, I like the trailer, & I would probably play the game. But I can’t vote for the game unless I sign up for yet another online account. It doesn’t sound like much, but there is the hassle of putting in a bunch of personal data, going to my email account & verifying, etc. It’s yet another barrier to entry for a game that needs more love & less BS.

    • swenson says:

      To buy a game on Steam, you need a Steam account anyway. So if you’re not willing to create a Steam account to vote for it through Greenlight, you’re not going to be able to play it through Steam anyway, so what does it matter to you?

      • John says:

        More importantly, what does it matter to Valve?

        If you don’t have and aren’t willing to create a Steam account, why would Valve want to take your opinion into account when deciding what to offer on Steam?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Honestly, as someone who had the same kind of thoughts when I was considering signing up for Steam, I have to say that it’s totally worth it. Steam is not “just another” online game service. It is 100% THE BEST online game service. The only other service that can arguably be called “better” is GoG.com but GoG has a different set of features (no DRM, no client, lots of classics, etc.). Steam is the best at what it does, and it’s completely worth signing up.

  6. Arvind says:

    Disclaimer: I may not be an unbiased party in this discussion, as I’ve got a game on Greenlight.

    In my opinion, Valve should allow submitters to upload a demo (they can use the entrance fee to pay for the hosting space if it’s that big of a deal). They could run web AV scanners on it to be reasonably sure that the demo isn’t malware. A lot of indie games are not the type of games that look good in screenshots.

    • AJ_Wings says:

      They do allow demos. Most indies provide links to their websites or other third party website to provide the voter with the demo. I don’t think you can download a demo directly from Greenlight.

      • Arvind says:

        Yes, but in my experience not a lot of people actually take the time to read the description, then copy the url and paste it in their address bar to start downloading the demo.

        A “download demo” within steam would make the process painless, which should result in more downloads.

        • AJ_Wings says:

          I agree. I think I’ve only bothered to check out two demos out of the 50 or so titles I voted for because didn’t bother copy/pasting the link more than a couple of times.

    • rofltehcat says:

      Yeah, a demo function would truly be nice.

  7. Abnaxis says:

    “…Privileged white-collar dudes acting like $100 isn’t a big deal…”

    That’s not particularly fair. I don’t think $100 is a lot of money in this context, but it has nothing to do with privilege at all. We are talking about the cost of doing business, here. Small businesses can often run over a million dollars in start-up costs, requiring would-be entrepreneurs to put everything they own as collateral to even begin. Indies don’t cost millions, but even if the game comes from someone programming in their basement, the hours s/he spent plugging away at it would be worth tens of thousands if s/he took a traditional programming job instead.

    If someone is looking to make a business transaction, $100 is peanuts. This is particularly true when it could potentially mean access to the biggest digital distributor out there. Any developer who balks at putting $100 of skin in the game for a chance at Steam is not serious about what they are doing and should not clutter the system until they are.

    • Zukhramm says:

      But I’m not paying $100 as a business to get on Steam. I’m giving Steam $100 for them to make a donation, to allow me to let people vote for my screenshots, nad maybe get on Steam sometime?

      • Abnaxis says:

        You’re paying $100 for access to Stream customers, with the goal of marketing your product to them. In return for your $100, you get a spot in Greenlight (which promoted your game), with the possibility to be upgraded to the more exclusive status that is a place on the Steam platform if you do well enough.

        To sell you product. As in conduct business. As in “this is entirely a business transaction.”

        • Problem being that from Valve’s perspective that’s largely profit AND it goes counter to their stated interests as a company to promote creativity and cool new concepts. They could easily cut down that fee and still make profit per application.

        • Zukhramm says:

          But I’m not actually paying for that, since Valve claims they’re not actually going to take their money.

          • Dreadjaws says:

            You’re forgetting about something very important. Greenlight generates publicity. Suddenly, a game that no one has ever heard of is there for millions to see. Even if your game doesn’t make it into Steam, people will now know about it and those interested will buy it anyway.

            • Minnow says:

              Not really…

              After the initial buzz how many people do you really think will sift through Greenlight [‘s badly designed pages] in order to find indie titles they might have not have heard of? Certainly not ‘millions’. Look at Game Hubs / Steam forums / Workshop and you’ll notice how many people really interact with Steam’s Community aspects…a small percentage. A small percentage of that percentage will continue to use Greenlight to discover new games.

              I don’t believe Greenlight was designed with that idea in mind either.

              • Dreadjaws says:

                It’s a very different thing. Greenlight is made for indie games, and those who are interested in them will look for them. The Game Hubs are made for people who are interested in social tendencies, like Facebook and the like and the Workshop is for modders and such. The forums are a mix of social and problem solving conversations.

                They are all very different systems for very different people. You can’t expect all of them to have the same followers.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I think what he was objecting to was exactly what he said. Yes, anyone can save up $100 if they really want to. What is offensive is people saying “A hundred bucks? I spend that much on insoles every month!”
      Of course, if that’s the objection, then it’s kind of a straw-man argument. Sure, there will always be people boasting about their monetary resources. That doesn’t mean those boasts need to be addressed.

      • Abnaxis says:

        No one is boasting about anything.

        Let me put this another way. $100 to Greenlight buys you:

        –Targeted product placement on a domain whose users are there specifically to support and buy your category of product that you can use to link to your own sales page.

        –An opportunity to, without extra charge, gain access to a piece of the marketing, distribution infrastructure, and branding of the biggest digital distributor in existence if you can drum up enough customer support.

        For comparison, our hypothetical bright-eyed developer could instead spend his/her $100 on:

        –A low-end, 4 generations old PC to test with. Assuming s/he has a monitor already.

        –A 25% down-payment to put Microsoft Visual Studio in layaway

        –2 hours (max) of a junior programmer’s time.

        –A week of Google ads.

        –3-4 months (generously) of web-hosting service with the file hosting required for distributing a game, assuming our hypothetical develops their webpage themselves

        Obviously, any single item on the second list covers a minute fraction a what you actually need to develop a game. $100 is a pittance, chump change, peanuts, a trifle, bus money, a drop in the bucket compared to the actual price to make a market ready game. The price of Greenlight isn’t a travesty, it’s a steal.

        This has nothing to do with boasting. I’m not bragging about how I can afford $100 out of pocket right now (I couldn’t, but that’s not germane to my point). I am just pointing out the fact that $100 is a miniscule sum considering what the developer gets out of it, and is in fact on the order of 1% (max) of the cost of seriously developing and distributing a game if you actually sit down and do the math.

        • Shamus says:

          As a general response to thread, not to anyone in particular: I see a lot of people talking past each other.

          “Some people don’t have $100!”

          “It’s totally worth $100!”

          These are not mutually exclusive. Consider a hypothetical teen living in Brazil. He has no regular income, or if he does it’s a fraction of what the same teen could earn in the USA. Maybe he makes his game on school computers, or whatever. Maybe he could be the Next Big Thing, but $100 is completely unobtainable to him. I’m pretty sure all Chris is asking is that we acknowledge that this situation is a side-effect of the $100 charge. This is not to say that the $100 cover charge is WRONG, or that it should be abandoned. It’s just that when we discuss this system, let’s not pretend that the kid from Brazil doesn’t matter or can’t exist.

          I think if the kid has a good enough demo, he ought to be able to get donations to get on greenlight. Probably. But that’s not the same as not needing donations. It’s a tricky problem.

          • StranaMente says:

            I would like to add, and prevent eventual argument about it, that there could be many reasons why you can have a computer and an internet connection and yet not being able to pay 100$.
            You may have fallen into rough times; the cost of hardware and internet connection is different per nation, but 100$ is fixed, so you could sustain yourself, but the exchange would be really hard on your finances. You may have a job, but given the wage in the nation you live it’s just enough to mantain you while you produce your game, but still the exchange may be too hard. Your game is good but hasn’t reached out to the public.

            Does anybody forget that some games pass a moment in which they are not famous and the maker(s) still struggle for money before becoming huge success?

            Also there could be some arguing about the choice of charity, as has been suggested, it could be left to the devs to decide, even if in a pool of organizations.

          • LintMan says:

            I just don’t think it’s that big of a problem.

            Indies have plenty of ways besides Steam to sell their game, many of which have far lower barriers to entry than Steam does, including just selling the game themselves on their own website.

            Steam is the Hollywood of online gaming stores, so yes it’s great for an indie to get there: it means they’ve hit the big-time. But Steam is also a business, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to require their business partners to actually demonstrate some slight bit of entreprenurial acumen or effort (ie: by investing a bit of money, marketing your game, and building your fan base). Being an indie game developer isn’t just about creating the game and then you’re done: you have to treat it like the business it is.

            In an ideal world, the poor Brazilian boy’s fantastic gem of a game would be immediately recognized as such and well rewarded. But in reality the gems are generally not easily recognized as such without a lot of scrutiny first, and would easily be buried and lost in the landslide of other, far less worthy, games: mediocre ones, awful ones, elaborate trolls, scams, etc, if there’s no entry hurdle. The signal to noise ratio would be disastrously low.

            • Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

              I’m unpersuaded. It’s a business. Get a loan. Hit up your family or friends. Put out a shingle and ask for donations. Panhandle on the streets. Put it on your credit card and pray that you make it onto STEAM before you have to pay it off.

              If an entrepreneur can’t raise $100 in start-up funds, I’m not sure why I’d want to take a chance hosting them on my platform. Even the poor kid in Brazil should be able to raise those funds.

              I gather that Valve is simply using the money as a screening device -which is why they donate it. Would people be happier if Valve kept it as the cost of hosting the game ad? Or perhaps if it was put into escrow and returned if the game made it -or didn’t make it?

              • Zukhramm says:

                Honestly, yes, I would be.

              • newdarkcloud says:

                If it is just a screening device to filter out trolls, then why not make the fee lower, like around $20.

                Or, better yet, make them fill out paperwork. Trolls wouldn’t take the time to fill out paperwork. A struggling developer would.

                • Trix2000 says:

                  I imagine because $20 is kinda below the threshold of ‘reasonable to throw away on something trollish”. It’s certainly easier to part with in my mind than $100.

                  • Sumanai says:

                    A 100 USD is going to be “totally worth it” for some people too. Just asking for a dollar means that they have to insert credit card information and the card may get banned, so there’s an inherent risk, and some trolls will be stopped. High amounts only test how rich, or willing, the trolls are.

                  • newdarkcloud says:

                    Would you pay $20 to pull a prank on somebody? I imagine few people would.

                    Or would you spend half-an-hour to an hour filling out paperwork in order to pull a prank on somebody? I imagine few people would.

          • Abnaxis says:

            My problem with that line of thinking is this: by that logic, we should be bemoaning the fate of the genius chef who cannot afford an oven or the genius accountant who cannot afford pens. It is a fundamental tenet of Capitalism that any business which cannot afford the costs of doing business goes out of business.

            Following that line, any developer who cannot make sales without Greenlight and also cannot afford that $100 is going to go out of business and will have to find some other way to ply their programming talents and there is nothing wrong with that, at least within the limits of how we have laid our system out. That’s just how it works.

            While I would personally be absolutely ecstatic if everyone who had talent were guaranteed access to the tool required to develop their talent and make products, the collective that is the Western Developed World has already deemed that free markets = good and socialism = bad. That’s not going to change anytime soon.

            • Shamus says:

              I’m not sure why you’re arguing with me. I said Alfonso might not be able to afford the hundred bucks. You respond by making a value judgement that you don’t think it matters. Fine, but that doesn’t change the facts of what I said.

              “It is a fundamental tenet of Capitalism that any business which cannot afford the costs of doing business goes out of business.”

              This is also not relevant, because the cost you’re talking about didn’t exist before, and now it does, and I’ll I’m trying to get you to do is say “Yes, there is now a cost and there wasn’t one before, and it might not be trivial for everyone.” Which you seem to conceede in your post. So again, I’m not sure what “line of thinking” you’re objecting to.

              I’m not AGAINST the hundred dollars. But an honest discussion should begin by simply acknowledging this barrier.

              • Abnaxis says:

                Huh…uh…I seemed to have lost my point in my blathering there. Funny, I usually manage to stop myself before I ramble like that.

                I guess what I’m saying is that no matter the price–even $5 or $10–someone won’t be able to pay it. $15 will feed a starving kid for a month in some countries. Being opposed to idea of price as a barrier to entry because it prevents Alfonso from making his submission implies (to me) that you are opposed to start-up costs as a barrier to entry in general. Abolishing start-up costs means giving everyone the tools to ply their chosen trade for free, which in turn means we’re talking about socialism.

                While I don’t think socialism is some sort of cardinal evil, I know others do, and I’m trying to point out the fact that finding some sort of moral wrong in using $100 as a barrier to entry has much broader ramifications than just the number of indie developers on Steam. Cost is a barrier to entry for every business and is a fundamental necessity for a capitalist system.

      • Sumanai says:

        No, no they can’t just save up 100 dollars for an arbitrary cost that doesn’t really buy them anything concrete. There’s a good reason why there are a lot of working poor in the USA, and that is not because “those people are lazy or stupid or something” just in case someone wants to make that argument.

  8. SleepingDragon says:

    I said it on the ES blog and I’ll repeat it here. A lot of problems with Greenlight is about misinterpreting what it’s supposed to be. I’m not sure if I missed some big chunk of the PR campaign surrounding it or something but it seems a lot of people assumed it would just make Steam kinda like Kongregate. Personally I think Valve did it not even so much to lessen their workload (seeing as, afaik, the normal submission process is still available) but probably more in fear of missing the next minecraft.

    And yes, a lot of deserving games (or games some of us consider deserving) aren’t going to make it (for example Immortal Defense and Frayed Knights are doing rather poorly) but Greenlight isn’t even a question about whether the game is good, it’s a question about whether the game can make money.

    • The old submission process closed a month before Greenlight launched (unless you have an existing relationship with Valve then enquiries are directed to Greenlight).

      “At the moment Steam is currently not accepting new game submissions as we transition to our new Steam Greenlight process.”
      “Going forward, we’re putting the choice into the hands of customers through Steam Greenlight.”
      “To get access to the Steamworks SDK, you still need to go through Steam Greenlight.”
      all from the FAQ.

      • SleepingDragon says:

        Ahh, I was unware of that, thank you. I remember someone saying that “the old channel is still open” and, not being a dev, I haven’t really been all that interested to double check.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Regarding the workload issue, how much extra workload has Greenlight created? The creation, promotion and operation of Greenlight will have cost Valve a certain amount of money, and if they were keen on reducing the workload then surely that money would have been better spent on hiring more people to vet the normal Steam submissions as they were.

      • SleepingDragon says:

        Again, I believe that the introduction of the 100$ entry fee is there to reduce the workload Greenlight was causing, but Greenlight itself, I think, is there for another reason: to help with judging titles that do not necessarily follow the usual marketable criteria, like I said, in order to not miss the next minecraft.

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    The problem is, Chris falls into a few traps that other critics of the system tend to also fall into:

    1) “A bunch of privileged white collar dudes acting like $100 is not a big deal.” This is not a class issue, and someone’s salary does not necessarily invalidate their opinion. This is an issue of non-Professionals balking at a fee that, if they were acting professional they wouldn’t complain about. Professional tools easily cost hundreds of dollars. You certainly can’t get a functional PC for less than $100. You certainly can’t get a new game console for less than $100.

    THE SOLUTION IS TO SAVE UP YOUR MONEY AND IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD WHAT YOU WANT THIS MONTH, THEN YOU GET IT NEXT MONTH. It’s what I do. Sometimes I have to wait a couple months to buy a certain programming book, or hardware peripheral. I certainly don’t buy more than one external hard drive a year (incidentally, a vital part of my backup system). I can’t upgrade my computer more than once every three years, if that.

    I live on ramen, various kinds of pasta, and other cheap foods. My expenses eat up ~90% of my paycheck each month. And once I have a game to send to Greenlight, I’ll gladly pay the fee. Because if I want to be a professional, I need to act like a fucking professional.

    EDIT: What Abnaxis said.

    2) “More interested in publishing content than curating a library for selfish reasons.” Again, good. I’d hate for Steam to be open, and allow great games to drown in a sea of shovelware. There are some amazing Apps on the App store AND I CAN NEVER FIND THEM UNLESS SOMEONE ELSE HAPPENS TO RECCOMEND THEM TO ME BECAUSE WHEN I GO ON THE APP STORE ALL I CAN EVER FIND IS SHOVELWARE.

    Yeah, it’s tragic that some great games might not quite get on Steam, but plenty more will AND I’ll be able to find them.

    Opening the system is inherently counter to the objective of discover-ability.

    3) There is no “downvoting”. There have been even more idiots complaining that downvoting doesn’t do anything, as idiots who don’t realize that downvoting doesn’t do anything. Because it’s not downvoting. It’s just saying that a particular game is not to your tastes.

    And I’m not going to feel bad about saying I’m not interested in buying a game. Because, again, this is supposed to be about people trying to be professionals. If your game doesn’t make it, you try again with a better product. Nut up or shut up.

    4) “Valve has already censored at least one erotic title”. Really. You’re really going there. How about: there are laws concerning erotic content on the internet. Valve would have to fence off part of Steam just for those games, or else forbid anyone who can’t prove their age from even looking at any part of the Steam store.

    You like sleazy video rental places with kids films in front and adult sections in back? Well how nice for you. I take Valve’s point of view with this one.

    Besides, it’s not censorship. Valve aren’t demanding that the developer changes the game, they just outright rejected it. That’s not censorship.

    5) “I can go to the page and vote yes, but I can’t see how well the game works or how much it will cost.”

    Some have had the sense to say how much their game will cost (Love+, for example), but others haven’t thought of it. This is a developer issue.

    6) “underscores their lack of commitment to games as an expressive medium.” Edmund McMillen’s games just called and left a message. They say “fuck you.”

    So all in all, a thought provoking and excellent Errant Signal as usual.

    • Alan says:

      “‘A bunch of privileged white collar dudes acting like $100 is not a big deal.’ … This is an issue of non-Professionals balking at a fee that, if they were acting professional they wouldn’t complain about.

      The irony is strong in this one.

      • I’d say that Chris and others like him have a different perspective. Fact is that a lot of great games have been made for nominal budgets as labors of love: IIRC, Cave Story and Charles Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden would both be excellent examples. $100 to try to get those games attention would have been a lot on TOP of a labor of love. Cave Story itself was illustrative: I played it years before it got popular (what’s the emoticon for hipster glasses?), and it languished in relative obscurity until eventually it reached a critical mass of notoriety. Not every indie game should have to go through that.

        Regarding fencing off their content: They already DO that. If you try to buy games with certain age restrictions (Saint’s Row III and Crysis come to mind), they ask you for your age. Not hard.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Yeah, but this isn’t SR3 or Crysis. Let’s put this in perspective. Here’s a description I pulled from a site talking about it (it was actually negative towards Valve, btw): “erotic themed dating simulation”

          Here’s the link, btw. Dang, those comments are HAMMERING on Valve.

          *edit* I was being.. unnecessarily pushy about Valve’s right to not let this up. Edited that out.

          • Torsten says:

            Games that have slaughtering, murdering, dismembering, hacking, slashing, shooting etc are perfectly fine. Not to mention drug using and bad language. But a game where you seduce girls to have sex with them is offensive.

            Actually, the games that are only about seducing somebody to have sex are offensive. Games containing violence, killing, bad language, drug use and other offensive stuff with sex as addition are fine. See Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Witcher etc.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        I’m not nearly middle-class. (yet) I’m working at a bank now, but for the last decade I worked in construction, retail and food service. I can’t afford college, so I’m teaching myself programming. My brother, who has medical needs, has been 100% dependent on me for a year.

        The fact of the matter is if you want to be a professional you need to fucking act professional and stop moaning about the Greenlight fee. No irony here, pal.

    • Ateius says:

      “THE SOLUTION IS TO SAVE UP YOUR MONEY AND IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD WHAT YOU WANT THIS MONTH, THEN YOU GET IT NEXT MONTH.”

      +1 to this.

    • False Prophet says:

      Yes, but it’s not worth $100. $100 to join Apple’s Developer Program pretty much guarantees any iOS app/game you make in a calender year will be accepted to the App Store, and hey, they give you support tools too. For the same price, Valve is offering you the opportunity to enter a popularity contest to be judged by anonymous internet commenters who may or may not vote for you to get on Steam.

      • Infinitron says:

        Then don’t pay. But also, don’t complain that you aren’t getting something you deserve.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Nobody said anything about “deserving” anything. We’re simply saying that if the purpose of this is to encourage indie developers to come onto Steam, the $100 fee is a massively stupid idea. It could have easily been much lower than that if they wanted to separate genuine entries from trolling.

          It’s a critique of the system.

      • Abnaxis says:

        $100 to Apple also puts you into a list with thousands upon thousands of shovelware applications, 90% of which are not even remotely related to your game. There is value in reducing the noise-to-signal ratio

    • roymacIII says:

      Besides, it’s not censorship. Valve aren’t demanding that the developer changes the game, they just outright rejected it. That’s not censorship.

      I mean… it’s not government censorship, which is the kind that I’m most concerned about, but it’s still censorship. Traditionally, censorship doesn’t involve demanding changes, it involves banning or refusing to publish. If they take a stance that they refuse to put up erotic work, that’s totally their right, but it does, necessarily, involve censoring work. They just chose to censor the entire work instead of a portion of it.

      • silver Harloe says:

        So if I give you a poster, and you don’t hang it up in your living room, that’s a form of censorship? Or does it only meet your definition if I give the poster to the local coffee shop, and they don’t hang it up on their walls?

        Actually the closest analogy I can think of to Valve not putting that game on their site is: I submitted an article to a magazine (which was soliciting articles) and they chose not to publish mine. Censorship!

        I think stretching the word censorship to include “private businesses choosing not to display all the content people offered them” makes the word meaningless. Censorship is about trying to stamp speech out of existence.

        • Retsam says:

          +1 to this.
          I don’t see why a company shouldn’t be allowed to have standards on what material it promotes and sells. I mostly mean this in terms of “sexy” games, but I suppose this sums up my whole attitude towards Greenlight.

        • silver Harloe says:

          To be fair, there exist non-governmental forms of censorship – they just aren’t “I didn’t publish your thing.” They are things like credible death threats to people who write about certain topics, massive organized boycotts (or advertiser pull-outs) of people who support certain media or say anything critical of your position, credible threats of lawsuits (or actual lawsuits) against people who say the wrong thing, use of monopoly (or near monopoly) power to make people sign contracts that forbid speech … that kind of thing. In other words: censorship is when you try to shut someone up – which is very, very different from not inviting them to your house.

  10. Aldowyn says:

    You have no idea how hard it was to cut down what I wanted to say for Youtube’s character limit on the video…

    I’m okay with the IDEA behind Greenlight, I’m just not sure about execution.

    Steam’s advantage for indie devs is visibility, right? After all, like other people have said, it’s not actually that HARD to get published online. But if Steam becomes open, and almost anything gets in, Steam loses that advantage and becomes largely pointless except as a convenient place to get and/or store games. Advertisement becomes, even more than it ALREADY is, entirely word-of-mouth.

    Not to mention Valve IS a business. Chris was showing a lot of idealism in that video, especially at the end, where he was talking about Valve not really considering “what was best for the developers” and things like that. Valve’s here to make money, just like everyone else, so why wouldn’t they have a system like this?

    And people mentioned that greenlight doesn’t necessarily highlight the best games, but the ones with the best marketing/social media teams/fanbase or whatever. *shrug* How else are you supposed to do it? Popularity should be a decent metric for quality, and certainly the only one that Steam and Valve REALLY care about as a business.

    • Zukhramm says:

      But does Valve actually make more money for having a $100 fee on Greenlight? They’re (supposedly) not keeping the money, so they don’t make any from that.

      • SleepingDragon says:

        the 100$ fee is to make the service more manageable. Even putting aside actual trolls I’ve seen legitimate and generally reasonable users in the forums getting annoyed because “they got banned for a week for submitting a joke game. Come on, it was just an inside joke between me and some friends, it’s not like I was trying to cheat people into thinking it was a legit game.”

        And although people hve pointed out that charity is tax deductible I honestly don’t think this kind of money would really be worth it for the company of this size if not for the above benefit.

    • Well, the point here would be that Apple, YouTube, etc. and a bunch of other people have managed to have largely open if not entirely open (barring obvious legal limits) ecosystems while still remaining very profitable. I’d say given Valve’s internal culture that there has to be some reasons why not, and I’d say that, yeah, there’s many:

      *The risk of a really damaging (PR and potentially legal exposure-wise) game with really obscene content increases markedly since it’s not Super Nintendo-era graphics but modern PC gaming
      *The certification process for thousands of machine configurations (plus potentially Linux and Mac) is way, way harder
      *Valve has distinguished Steam from the start as THEIR digital distribution network that they just so happened to put games as good as their own on, so they’d be diluting their brand advantage

      Etc. etc. But still, I think they should put their money where their mouth is in terms of their corporate values and do something to insure that way more indie games get their chance.

    • krellen says:

      Valve doesn’t even have STOCKHOLDERS, for crying out loud. Businesses do not exist to make money, they exist for WHATEVER THE FUCK THE OWNERS WANT IT TO. In this case, Valve exists for whatever reason Gabe Newell decides. Certainly he likes being fabulously wealthy, but his sole purpose on this earth – and thus the purpose of Valve – in not to make money.

      I really take these “businesses exist to make money” arguments quite personally. It’s a mindset that is contributing heavily to the destruction of society and the planet. That isn’t what business is for, and I will not sit idly by and allow people to continually make that argument unopposed.

      • some random dood says:

        Agree with krellen – “A business’ only responsibility is to make money” is the argument of a sociopath, and for the sake of civilization needs to be challenged and refuted.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Hmm. Didn’t think of it that way. Make me feel bad. (Apparently I’m an objectivist sympathizer :P) That last sentence was pretty awful, wasn’t it? I mean, that is definitely ONE of their objectives to at least stay afloat, but popularity as the only meaningful measure of quality… :/ (P.S – I didn’t say responsibility, I said goal. That’s a big difference)

          I stick to my original point, though, which is if Steam went open and allowed everything or nearly everything on, things would get lost and Steam would lose what advantages it has to most indie devs.

          I was watching TotalBiscuit’s latest mailbox and this related quote from him came up: “The vast majority of the stuff on iOS is GARBAGE…”
          I think that’s what Valve’s trying to avoid here.

          Note, TB is… infamous for this strong opinions on things. Also that’s a perfect soundbite, he was ACTUALLY talking about specifically microtransactions in games like farmville, especially those directed at kids. Not that I think he’d disagree with the statement in general.

        • Shamus says:

          I see it as a statement like “Men are taller than women”. It works as a generalization.

          It’s SADLY true in too many cases that companies exist to make money. EA and Activision both clearly exist to make money. While I often disagree with Valve, it’s clear that their decisions a NOT 100% profit-driven.

          If they were, we’d be playing Half-Life 6 by now. And it would probably suck.

          • krellen says:

            The reason I feel so strongly about it is that I have spent my entire professional life working for businesses that explicitly did not exist for the purpose of making money. One of them, for much of my time there, actually struggled mightily to survive BECAUSE it existed to provide a service, and not to make money.

            10% of Americans work for non-profit businesses. 18% work for entities that do not exist to make money (the extra 8% are government employees). That’s a sizable chunk of people that are often ignored.

            (The single largest employer in my city is the local, non-profit, government research facility. Number two is the local government.)

            • Aldowyn says:

              And how often when people quote the “businesses exist to make money” line are they referring to a business that does not, in fact, exist to make money? (at least in the eyes of the law, I guess)

              I’m not saying that that’s all they should care about, but you can’t blame a for-profit business for attempting to maximize profits, as long as they aren’t taking advantage of people in some form or another to do it.

              • krellen says:

                I can, and should, blame for-profit companies trying to MAXIMIZE profits. There’s no social good that comes from maximizing profits. Profit is, BY DEFINITION, an excess of funding, more than a business needs to survive.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  To me that’s like saying you should blame someone at a party for saying they’re trying to have as much fun as possible. Isn’t that what they’re for? (Not that I party that much :D)

                  Why not, as long as it doesn’t harm others?

                  • X2Eliah says:

                    Profit by definition is something that harms others – you take more money from others than would be objectively necessary. Profit. Fun is not a hard, immutable resource, you can have ALL THE FUN and nobody else loses their fun. With profit, the more you rip, the less remains for others.

                    • Aldowyn says:

                      Well that’s a cynical way of putting it. The simple version of profit (apparently there’s a lot, but this is the layman’s profit) is revenue – expenses. So everything you make that is more than your expenses is something that harms others? So, what, would you say it’s a moral obligation to sell things for as little as possible in order to break even and live off of it? NO ONE is allowed to get rich if they have the means and desire to do so?

                • Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

                  Companies maximizing profits maximize the utility and wealth of their customers, making us all wealthier, and providing -through competition and efficiency gains -the wealth and liesure neccessary to enjoy life and fund the non-profit sector. That’s the social benefit. If we all worked for non-profits, we’d starve.

                  And profit is not “excess funding,” in either colloquial or technical meaning. Colloquially it means “the money left over after everyone else other than the owner is paid,” which is otherwise known as the “return on investment.” In technical language it means the sum of the gap between the average cost curve and the demand curve at the market-clearing price -which in an efficient market is zero, in an inefficient market is a sign that more firms should enter (or in the case of negative profits, exit) thus driving the price down and benefiting consumers, and in a monopoly it is called a “rent.”

                  It is good to have both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. It is the sign of a healthy civilization. But if the for-profit sector doesn’t do its job, we can’t have a non-profit sector.

                  • krellen says:

                    Most owners and other executives are paid a salary that is deducted before profit, and I do not see any evidence that money paid to stockholders actually does benefit the economy. Trickle-down economics is a lie.

                    • Aldowyn says:

                      I’ve always thought the idea of “trickle-down economics” was that if you give tax breaks to the business owners, they’ll pass that down to the employees, but that just doesn’t make sense. A: That relies on the owners actually raising wages, which… yeah, right, and B: Why not skip the middleman and give tax breaks to the middle class?

                      So yeah I’ll agree with you here.

                      Also: Maximizing profits = maximizing efficiency = more productivity = more overall wealth. Not necessarily more wealth for everyone, but overall is better than none. The problem arises when we don’t have enough jobs for people to work, causing people to have less money to pay businesses, so those businesses have less money to expand and hire more people. It’s a vicious cycle :/

                    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                      Trickle Down Economics refers to the idea that if the returns to investment increase -in the American case by reducing marginal tax rates on investment income -then capital owners will invest more. More investment means more productivity, more productivity means more jobs -either because more productivity calls for more production inputs (labor), or because the increase in production lowers the cost of goods, and raises the nominal value of wages meaning that more people can be hired at the same real price. Pick your theory.

                      What I am describing is called Welfare Economics (with a dose of economic pluralism) which argue that if everyone acts so as to maximize their organization’s purpose -be that social services or money -then the welfare of everyone is maximized. There are numerous criticisms of it. Trickle-down economics is not one of them, so I’m having a hard time taking seriously an argument that can’t even get its invective right.

                    • krellen says:

                      Every profit is someone else’s expense. No wealth is created.

                    • Shamus says:

                      This is a subject about which I am passionate. I keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t want to start flame wars and cause offense in what should be a friendly environment. Having OTHERS have this fight in my house is possibly the worst possible outcome for me.

                      This thread (discussion of trickle-down, profits, and moral obligations) is over.

                    • Aldowyn says:

                      No monetary wealth, perhaps (printed money is supposed to keep up with inflation). But if you increase productivity you increase the supply, which lowers prices which means people (on the same wage, theoretically. Realistically, adjusted for inflation) can afford more stuff. Therefore material wealth LITERALLY is created.

        • Robyrt says:

          A publicly traded company does have a legal responsibility to make money for its shareholders – but as Krellen pointed out, Valve is not a public company and can be as responsible as it wants. As the market leader in the segment, it also bears some degree of responsibility for setting the precedent on being considerate of developers’ interests, etc. where say Origin Greenlight would not.

          • krellen says:

            Not even publicly traded companies have legal mandates to make money. That is just utter falsehood, albeit an oft repeated one. There is no LEGAL mandate to return profits.

            Dodge v. Ford is almost never cited as legal precedent, and wasn’t even a case of the court demanding a business make profit (but rather that it allow the profit it had already made to benefit its stockholders.)

            • Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

              But executives in business do have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their stockholders and clients. If the executives don’t, the stockholders have the legal right to remove the executives and to file a claim for tortious damages. Now, that “best interests” may include donations to charity, or the re-investment of dividends into the company, or the use of dividends to buy back past debt, or several other activities.

              Sure, that takes longer to say than “make money for the stockholders,” but the shorter sentence is an accurate enough gloss.

            • silver Harloe says:

              Krellen pointed this out to me before, and I tracked down some articles and stuff to validate one side or another. Krellen was right.

              I had been informed by a documentary that it was a civil offense for a company with investors or stockholders to not try to make money, but that was wrong.

              The articles I found, though, suggested that the documentary wasn’t lying, but misinformed in a common way. Apparently law professors teach this based on a court case which isn’t really used in courts, but convenient for law professors because it makes a nice, simple story they can abuse in class :/

              • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                It’s a tort. It’s called breach of fiduciary duty. It’s been brought as recently as…

                Two weeks ago.

                • krellen says:

                  This is valid if the owners – the stockholders – decided the company should maximize profits. But the law will not force stockholders to hold executives accountable if they do not maximize profit against their will, which is what stating that there is a legal responsibility to do so implies.

                  The only reason a company must maximize profits is if those owning the company deems it so; the law has nothing to say about the purpose of a company.

      • PurePareidolia says:

        This is completely true. Anything and everything a business does should be to further the goals of those invested in it. That means money can’t just be for money’s sake. Nobody’s goal is to get rich so they can see their bank account balance go up. There needs to be something you want to spend it on, whether it be staying fed and sheltered or serving a greater cause.

        It’s pretty basic stuff honestly.

    • Aldowyn says:

      … I said a lot of stuff in this comment, but 75% of it is completely ignored. That’s unusual.

      I still stand by what I said in the last paragraph, but I think I’ll back off a bit on the second to last.

      You can’t expect them to make it completely open so that almost everything gets on. That defeats the purpose of the idea. The whole point is so that games that real people think deserve to get onto Steam, with its advantages of ease of access and visibility, get a chance to indeed do so. If people don’t vote for it… well, either the visibility isn’t doing its job in which case it doesn’t matter, or people don’t want it and therefore it doesn’t deserve to be on Steam (going by their metric, which I think is a reasonable one. Why host something that won’t sell? Pointless).

      Also, I don’t mind the $100 fee as a way to fend off trolls. That’s enough money that few people would spend on a joke or prank and little enough that most people can come up with it for something as getting a product to an effective market.

      In short.. why is completely open best for the developers? That makes it sound like NOT getting on Steam is a total death sentence, which is just patently not true.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I don’t mind them not being completely open, but I just feel that they are going about this the wrong way.

        $100 is a lot for someone making end’s meet to spend on a maybe. But they do need some form of quality control for this, no question.

        • Aldowyn says:

          The fee is a line you have to draw somewhere. How low can you go? 50? 25? I guess 50 would be a huge improvement, but if 100 is a big deal, 50 probably is too :/

        • PurePareidolia says:

          If someone needs $100 to make their ends meet they should start small and work their way up. Get to a point where $100 is no longer a make or break sum, then register as a Greenlight developer and release whatever you want for no additional costs. The barrier to entry is high for low income developers, but it has no time limit and it isn’t the only way to release on the PC. Even if its hard to save that much, and it is, you don’t have to get it from one paycheck or one sale or all at once. Thinking strategically and not being in such a rush to get rich quick is almost always a better solution.

          Besides, if you have to release right now or you won’t make any money, Greenlight is a terrible thing to hold out for because the voting process could potentially take weeks or months, especially if you have no marketing budget. The kind of people who need to sell games right now to lots of people otherwise they can’t pay rent will be ill-served by Greenlight regardless of the entry fee. It’s inherently a long term investment unless your game is really popular and fantasatic already.

  11. Hitchmeister says:

    My proposal for Valve if they really want to be THE platform of indie games. Establish a companion sub-service called Steam: Indie. Where anything and everything can get published after a cursory review much like the App Store. But it’s segregated from Steam proper so people don’t have to wade through all of that looking for the “good stuff” (in Valves opinion). Then re-brand Steam Greenlight as Steam Spotlight. If a game in Steam: Indie attracts enough attention and support it can be promoted to the “big leagues” of Steam proper. That way the piles of muck that would accumulate in Steam: Indie won’t negatively impact the true Steam experience. But still, thousands or millions of players will gladly shift through all of that muck looking to discover the next gem. Everyone wins… at least in my naive world view.

  12. Eljacko says:

    The reason I don’t believe Steam would work as an open system is because the kind of things it is offering are fundamentally different from what, for instance, YouTube and the App Store have on offer. The average YouTube video is a few megabytes, as are apps. The average game on Steam hovers somewhere around 8-10 gigabytes. An open system for video games would be much more expensive to host than an open system for videos or apps. And for what?

    For all that, all that Valve would get out of it would be the loss of their brand. One of the reasons I feel Valve was justified in the removal of the erotic game was that, quite frankly, it’s their choice as a company what to offer in their store. You don’t see hardcore pornography available on the shelves of your local video store, because most people don’t like to find pornography unless they’re specifically looking for it. We have become to used to Steam being a platform were quality outweighs crap vastly, so we hold Valve partly responsible for this quality assurance. If a bad game gets onto Steam, it reflects poorly on Valve.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Simple, institute a size limit. Problem solved. Greenlight is for indie games specifically, right?

      As for the removal of the erotica game… even Apple does the exact same thing, for all we talk about iOS being an “open” platform.

      • Eljacko says:

        I don’t think it is just for indie games. I believe they’ve closed the normal avenues of game submission. Besides, who’s to say that indie games have to be small?

        But here’s the thing, really: The exclusivity of Steam is what makes it such a great place for an indie game to be. If anyone could get onto Steam then being on Steam would become trivial and cease to be a surefire way to earn heaps of money and publicity.

        • Aldowyn says:

          I agree with you, trust me. It’s around here somewhere.

          I just have a tendency of blowing up specific arguments sometimes, sorry. And I have no idea why I said the second part, you were saying the same thing :/

          As to replacing the old submission process… I’m pretty sure someone specifically said they were keeping the old one. I mean it’d be pretty silly if (say) Fallout 4 or Borderlands 2 had to get voted on to get on, wouldn’t it?

      • Thomas says:

        Do we? :D I thought iOS was meant to be the garden wall one with invisible and highly irregular content regulation and the Android one a little better. It’s just in comparison, it more open than Greenlight :)

  13. I KIND of understand Valve’s point: The value of their own product declines if they bring in a bunch of shovelware, there’s a value to having a place you can go where you’re guaranteed to buy something good, pornography becomes an issue, there are thousands of potential hardware configurations so Valve could end up unwittingly releasing software that’s actually dangerous (and indie developers are unlikely to be able to foot the bill of inevitable lawsuits if that occurs), etc. YouTube has the ability to in part crowd-source discovery of copyright violation and explicit content. It’s legally nebulous how responsible Valve might be if they offered pornographic or explicit content. But they should at LEAST be as open as the Apple store, or markedly close to that. Frankly, I think the big problem is the $100. $100 in the indie marketplace should be a guarantee of publication as long as the title meets basic content standards (e.g. no porn and no really obscene content) and basic standards. If you’re going to make people go through a greenlighting crowdsourced process, which I’m not against, make it free or totally nominal: $5 or so.

    • Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      The Errant Signal video several times says something about “Valve creating a library of games.” This is apparently bad.

      My current view is that I like Valve creating a library. This is the value of the service. Just like an art museum or other store. If I want the bazzar, I’ll go to Amazon or Ebay.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Interesting. You are suggesting that Valve doesn’t already have shovelware games and a complete mess of a bazaar. … Really? Because I disagree with that entirely. The range of quality of games on offer is astonishing, there is no visible selection criteria that I can come up with (good/bad, works/doesn’t work – anything can be there), the layout is a mess beyond the arbitrary daily highlights, and the mad summer/winter sales are very much going with the spirit of a bazaar.

        • Dasick says:

          Just because they are not 100% capable of maintaining a library, doesn’t trivialise their efforts. Sometimes bad indie/small games slip in. Even in my own personal collection of books, movies and games bad quality material manages to get in and stay.

          And just because they have bazaar-like elements, does not negate their more “library like” elements. It’s not an “either-or” situation.

          Steam has what it has, and making it more (or less) accessible than it is right now results in a different service.

  14. Khizan says:

    Why would Valve want Steam to be like the AppStore or YouTube or eBay? So they can give “all the developers a chance” by opening their service to floods and floods of terrible shovelware and diluting their brand? When I see a game on Steam, I can be assured of at least a certain basic level of quality and competence. The AppStore is… a rather different story. Why would they give that up? They’re not running a charity; they are running a business.

    And calling the $100 fee “white collar privilege” bugs me, too. The $100 is a mark of intent, a statement that they’re serious about it. It’s like how you’ll see pet adoption ads saying that the pet is “Free with a $75 donation to the San Antonio Humane Society” or similar. They’re saying “It’s not that we want the money, but we want to see some proof that you’re serious about this.”

    $100 is a fairly large amount for this, but I can see reasons for that. The biggest one is that it hits the ‘serious money’ threshold for most people. I’ve read people saying “Well, why not a $10 fee, instead, that would keep out trolls”, and my answer to that is that, for a lot of people, $10 isn’t ‘serious’ money. It’s less than the cost of lunch at my local Chinese restaurant. I’m not particularly well off, and I could throw 10 bucks at any one thing without really thinking about it. Not all the time, and not with any great frequency, but enough so that I could do it without giving it serious consideration.

    So $10 fails at a test of intent. It might weed out pure trolls, but it’s still low enough for a lot of people to consider it throw-away money. $100 is a different story, though. It’s enough to make it a real consideration for most people, yet low enough that MOST people should be able to scrape it together in a few months if they work at it.

  15. Irridium says:

    Even if $100 isn’t a lot in the US, what about other areas of the world where it without a doubt is? Areas of the world that are poor compared to us, but still produce some very interesting games? Like, I don’t know, Eastern Europe? Companies in that are have made some very interesting games.

    God help any indie from there, or other poor areas of the world, that want to get on Steam but need to raise the $100 to do so.

    • Ateius says:

      Perhaps they could sell their game on one of the many other digital distribution systems first in order to raise the funds to compete for a chance on the digital throne.

      • Irridium says:

        That’d be easier to do if the pervasive attitude of many on the internet wasn’t “if it’s not on Steam I’m not buying it.”

        This was most apparent with the humble indie bundle. Before they got Steam keys, many people didn’t buy it. Because it didn’t have Steam keys. The price didn’t matter, the games didn’t matter, the fact that they weren’t on Steam was the only thing that prevented many people from buying it. When they finally got Steam keys, sales skyrocketed.

        Yes, you can sell on other digital markets and maybe make a profit. But since Steam is so much of the market, there’s a very good chance that it won’t do well because it’s not on Steam. Quality doesn’t matter, price doesn’t matter, the fact that it’s tied to Steam or not matters.

        • Shamus says:

          This brings up an important point: Some sliver of this anger at Valve should probably be aimed at Activision, EA and Microsoft. Usually when someone is a monopoly we suspect them of using underhanded tactics to put down the competition. But in this case we have a monopoly because the competition is run by people who simply are not gamers. It would be like having the iPhone designed by someone who didn’t like gadgets and didn’t “get” mobile computing. The blistering, astounding incompetence of Origin and Games For Windows LIVE has left Steam with a massive case of positive-feedback network effect. The fact that Activision never even bothered to try shows that they still haven’t noticed the bold-faced writing on the wall.

          So we all pin our hopes on a single platform, and if it doesn’t work the way we want, there’s nowhere else to go. Selling your game on Origin is like opening up a store in the Ghobi Desert. Selling on GFWL is like selling produce out of Chernobyl. Not that either of them are really a good home for indies anyway.

          We need a competitive market. Every day the number of people saying, “If it’s not on Steam I’m not buying it.” goes up.

          • Dasick says:

            That’s funny. Recently I’ve found myself saying “can I get that without Steam”? I wonder how fast those ranks are swelling.

          • Lupis42 says:

            One of the reasons I liked Impulse was that it seemed to offer real, viable competition to Steam on that front. Of course, what Stardock discovered is that running a platform like that quickly becomes way more work than making games.

            We need gamers who have the know how to develop software, access to the capital to launch a risky and ambitious project on a platform made out of digital duct tape and hope, and the will and dedication to take on a massively larger, better established competitor – but who aren’t looking to make games for a living.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            I think that’s where many of the problems come from. He need more people in this space who can do digital distribution well.

            We do have to consider that Activision and EA are publicly-traded companies and are thus handicapped in this space.

            • Lupis42 says:

              I don’t think being a public company is the problem, the problem is that they have this expectation that having desired content (their AAA titles) can drive a digital distribution service. Content may be necessary, but it’s also necessary to at least match the existing competition’s usability.

        • Ateius says:

          “Yes, you can sell on other digital markets and maybe make a profit. But since Steam is so much of the market, there’s a very good chance that it won’t do well because it’s not on Steam. Quality doesn’t matter, price doesn’t matter, the fact that it’s tied to Steam or not matters.”

          Right, but that wasn’t my point. I didn’t say “You can do just as well without Steam.” I said “You could sell your game elsewhere to raise the $100 to compete on Steam.” That’s only 20 sales at $5 each, you get some exposure and a moderate fanbase to help you during the Greenlight process, and the developer doesn’t have to garnish their paycheck or go without eating for three weeks to afford the fee.

          • Sumanai says:

            You’re forgetting that that 100 USD might need to go for living expenses or debts. It’s not just 100 dollars, it’s 100 dollars more than is needed for mandatory expenses. And the difference between being on Steam and not being on Steam can easily mean the difference between making that extra 100 USD and not.

            These people are often in the “working poor” bracket, so they really can’t just put money into something simply because they have it at hand at that very moment.

            • Ateius says:

              We’re getting really far down into the poverty bracket here, from “I don’t want to spend $100, that’s a lot of money for me” to “I don’t just have $100 laying around” to “I don’t have $100 on hand and also live entirely paycheck to paycheck and can’t possibly cut out one single dollar to gradually accumulate the needed money” to “I don’t have $100 on hand, and also live entirely paycheck to paycheck, and even that isn’t enough and I literally must sell this game on Steam right now or starve to death.”

              Yes, it’s possible to construct a hypothetical scenario with an indie developer that is so fantastically poor (despite owning a computer with an internet connection and the necessary software and training to create a game in the first place) that Valve must let them on to Steam immediately, for free, because there’s no other way they’re going to survive, but I’m pretty sure we’ve reached the bottom end of the slippery slope already and are now digging into the earth itself.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    I’ve been watching Greenlight since it began, so I’m going to address a couple of points you and Chris are not aware of, Shamus.

    1) The percentage of votes shown on the page is relative to the rest of the games on Greenlight. That is, the only way you’ll ever see one game getting 100% is if there’s ever only one game on the service. Valve is doing this to measure the popularity of the games compared to each other. It also means that the more games there are, the lower the percentage for each ones.

    2) The number of votes can’t go down. When you thumb down a game it’s only useful to remove it from your list. Some people unfamiliar with the first point assume that a lower percentage means the game has been downvoted. This is not true. In essence, this means that all games have a chance to be released at some point, by gathering enough votes over time, even if it takes them longer.

    3) The reason there’s a $100 charge it’s because from day one the service was flooded with spam. There were submissions that were obvious jokes and not real games, insults in the descriptions, people submitting games they don’t own the rights to (several Minecraft submissions for instance, despite Notch saying he didn’t intend to release the game on Steam) either because they didn’t understand the system and treated it as a glorified wishlist or didn’t care and yes, porn games. If you check the threads on the Steam forums, users were begging Valve to put a fee on Greenlight submissions, and Valve complied, realizing it was a good idea.

    Note that the fee only applied to new submissions. All the other games submitted previously stayed in the service for free.

    And no, I don’t believe Chris is right at bashing Valve for removing a game for erotic content. This is not an issue of Valve attacking freedom of expression, it’s an issue of Valve not being idiotic. How would you feel if you went to an orphanage where they were giving free toys to kids and someone stuck a vibrator between them? Would you actually cry “injustice” if someone took it out before the kids could see it?

    I know there’s this thing with society in which violence is widely accepted and sex is seen as taboo, but that issue has to be solved way before we start sticking the porn games with the alien shooters.

    I usually like Chris’s stuff, but I think he’s being absolutely unfair here. He should at least have tried to make an effort of informing himself a little bit on the subject before going on a rant. Games are getting much better chances to be released on Steam than they had before. And, as I said in other comment, Greenlight generates buzz. Being on Greenlight makes your previously unknown game suddenly be there for millions to see, and even if it doesn’t make it into Steam, people will look for it and purchase it anywhere else.

    And about the price and game description, that’s for developers to set and show. Many of them come up with great descriptions and give links to demos or other websites, give the price they want to sell the game at and provide more videos and screenshots than others. If others don’t want to take the effort, then it’s their fault we don’t get more interested in their game.

    • Shamus says:

      Thanks. I knew about #3, but #1 and #2 are new to me. I think it’s pretty easy for people to look at the upvote thing and fit it into their existing mental model of how YouTube does these things. I’d love to have a clearer picture of how close or far a game away is from Greenlight status.

    • Moon O'Riley says:

      One way to change societies thoughts on the sex is taboo, graphic violence is OK is to challenge those viewpoints through art & content (for an example challenging acceptance of violence see Spec Ops). I suspect the people upset about the game being refused believe that Valve was the most likely of the major publishers to put out games that challenge this. However having just looked at their promotional video, I would say that it is definitely not a game that is suitable for that, it looks to simply be a porn game.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      So yeah! What I said, but less drunk at the time. :)

  17. Chris says:

    I’ve said more than enough on the subject already, but here are some additional, absolutely fantastic articles anyone/everyone interested in the topic should really read:

    http://www.jonas-kyratzes.net/2012/09/06/the-one-hundred-dollar-question/

    http://www.merseyremakes.co.uk/gibber/2012/09/inconcievable/

    http://christopherwhitman.net/blog/?p=205

    • Dreadjaws says:

      And all of those seem to be as misinformed on the subject as you are. Is it too disrespectful if I ask you and these guys to actually read some of Valve’s forum posts on this subject before going on? They’re quite easy to find.

      And remember, users were asking for this fee, it didn’t just occured to Valve to do it.

      • Chris says:

        I’m not entirely certain what you mean when you say “misinformed.” Disagreeing with the notion of why a device or system exists doesn’t mean I don’t understand the reasoning for its existence. And it’s a little foolish to argue people who have games on Steam Greenlight right now are somehow underinformed about the service and its impact to indie developers. It’s not that I and others don’t understand why Valve chose the actions they did, it’s that we disagree with both those actions and their reasoning. “It’s not open because Valve doesn’t want it to be open!” doesn’t fix the problem of closedness; it masks the issue in what Whitman eloquently called “moralizing the legal obligations of a private company.”

        • Aldowyn says:

          Misinformed: According to what dreadjaws said above, they literally have the wrong information.

          Example: “Games could be downvoted as well as upvoted” – From what I’ve read, this is just wrong. It’s not a downvote, it’s a pass on upvoting, which is ENTIRELY different. It’s like not liking a YT video, not disliking it. Also carries over into the “almost impossible to discover a new game” comment.

          Assuming that Dreadjaws is correct, he’s just straight up wrong about how it works. Pretty sure that means he’s misinformed.

          Second one… not misinformed. Compelling argument. I still see the point behind the fee, but there probably aren’t as many jerks that would pay $20 and not pay $100 as there are legitimate devs that would pay $20 and can’t pay $100

          Third one… not misinformed, but there’s definitely an issue here. His entire point is a strawman argument against an issue that DOESN’T EXIST. There is NO quality gatekeeper. He doesn’t even address the $100 issue, which is the main issue all these guys were talking about. His whole point seems to be that Greenlight should be totally okay with having bad games, peoples’ first attempt, things like that. NO ONE is arguing that. That’s not the point of the fee – it’s to keep out stuff from people that literally are not at all serious. Pranks and worse. The more I read this one the more issues I have with it…

          Overall… not impressed with these articles as something against all of Valve’s methods with Greenlight. ALL of their legitimate issues can be fixed by lowering the fee to $20 or so. There are almost certainly people that can’t afford that, but I’m sorry, but without any fee the amount of stuff that just straight up does not belong on the service will inevitably bury gems that DO.

          I will admit that the first article especially DOES highlight the lack of clarity in how the system works, and that needs to be fixed.

          So…. that got really long… I’m just not impressed with a lot of these arguments. They don’t seem to hold water to me. Those posts certainly didn’t change my mind.

          • Dreadjaws says:

            This is exactly what I meant. Those people simply have the wrong information. This is not a question about disagreeing, it’s about the fact that they are talking about a subject they haven’t informed themselves about and assuming things about the service that are simply not true.

            To be fair, though, I didn’t read the second link in its entirety, only the first and third and assumed the second one was similar. Chalk that up to me being disinformed about that particular one.

            The thing is, people are ranting furiously about things that aren’t as big a problem as they make it up to be, classifying as problems to things that are solutions to far worse problems that needed to be solved and generally expecting a new experimental service to work perfectly right on launch. And they’re not even bothering to look up for information beforehand.

            It’s true, Greenlight has problems. There’s not enough information for the users as there is for Valve and maybe that fee is a little high, but Chris, you and all those other guys seem to be ignoring the main point here: maybe not all people are getting a chance, but far more people are being given one than they were before. Like it or not, indie games are having a much better chance at life than they had before Greenlight.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Is it too hard to ask you to link those posts which you feel would be informative? You are the one that’s being informed and asking others to become informed, after all.

        • Dreadjaws says:

          I’m not the one who’s making false claims based on information I made up, so I don’t have to give links to anyone. But hey, since I’m in a good mood, here’s a couple for you:

          This is one of the confirmation posts that assures downvotes don’t get a game’s rating down. Look for the post made by a Valve employee in the first page.

          This is one of the many threads suggesting an entrance fee on Greenlight, due to all the spam posts it generated.

          This is the Greenlight FAQ, which highlights things such as why the number of votes is not yet as important as relative interest between games, why games won’t be taken down from the service by down voting or (*Psst, hey, Chris!*) why a game with erotic content would be erased from the service.

          • Chris says:

            You seem hellbent on conflating “Not understanding” with “Not agreeing with something.” Valve stating publicly that “We have a policy of excluding content we find offensive” and me saying “I think that’s dumb” doesn’t mean I am under informed or unread on the subject. I do think it highlights the sort of censorship that will subsequently used to keep games off the service (mostly because it’s already been used to take games off of the service). Okay, so the outright erotic game doesn’t get on the service under this clause. Boo hoo, right? Well, where does that leave Mighty Jill Off or Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars or Dys4ia? Where does that leave games like McMillen’s C*nt? Oíche Mhaith? JFK Reloaded or Super Columbine Massacre? What happens when Steam gets presented with its own version of Phone Story? What happens when we see the arrival of games as politically charged as the iPhone app that tracks unmanned drone attacks? Are we really prepared to have the prime digital distribution network on the PC refuse to deal with subversive, sexual, or controversial content just because we think they’re pretty cool dudes?

            And even in the narrow context of erotic games – where does the line get drawn between Mass Effect having sex scenes and an outright Hentai title? Is there a proper review process, where the game is played and the sexual content is weighed for artistic merit in context? Is it just based off of screenshots and a “feel” for how offensive the game would be? If the game gets removed does the $100 get refunded, or is that a sunk cost just to be told you’re too edgy?

            With all these unanswered questions and $100 on the line, an indie title that might have questionable but justified content would likely balk at even attempting to get on Steam. So yeah, I think it has a chilling effect on the range of topics the medium can cover, especially when you consider that Steam is the distribution network to go to. If all the biggest player in town wants to sell is cheesy fluff about zombies and orks, all we’re going to get is cheesy fluff about zombies and orks.

            And to argue the “downvote” thing to this extent is at best misguided pedantry and at worst outright disingenuous. First of all, Kyratzes’ article was posted before they changed their “Thumbs Up”/”Thumbs Down” icons to “Yes!” and “No thanks/not interested.” The former’s iconography clearly indicate a downvote, and it’s easy to have misread it as such – so much so that they were quickly changed to their current incarnations.

            But more than that, the upvote/downvote thing is an insanely minor point made by one of the three articles I’ve linked to in as a tangential aside to his bigger complaints. Most of what I’ve linked to has focused on the $100 fee and the closed nature of the platform, and that has neither changed nor is based on incorrect information. Arguing that all points made are invalid and that these people are “misinformed” because of that one minor point is just ludicrous, and does nothing but confuse the issues at hand.

            • Shamus says:

              This is why I love having Chris on the site. I don’t condemn Valve the way he does, but he makes a great case (better, I think, than even the linked articles) he does it often with pointing out stuff I hadn’t considered (the chilling effect is a really interesting point) and he expresses emotion without making the emotion the foundation of his arguments.

              So, thanks Chris.

              Man, we should do a podcast or something. I can’t believe nobody’s ever suggested that before.

              • Knight of Fools says:

                I think all of the people on your show have rather good radio voices, in that they’re unique enough to be told apart and clear enough to be understood. It’d be downright sexy if you changed your focus from specific games to more general topics every once in a while.

            • Ateius says:

              Other things aside, this:

              “Are we really prepared to have the prime digital distribution network on the PC refuse to deal with subversive, sexual, or controversial content just because we think they’re pretty cool dudes?”

              Raises questions for me.

              Why do you think they should carry this content? We as a society draw a line between major distributors and erotic content in the retail sector. You don’t go to Wal-Mart to buy your erotica, you go to the little shop down Shady Street. We draw the same distinction for highly controversial or subversive art. You’re not going to find that stuff at Target, it’s going to be at the little art house downtown.

              So, unless you spend your free time picketing Wal-Mart for their censorship practices, why exactly does Steam need to be the exception to this rule? Valve is trying to run a digital storefront and wants to avoid highly controversial material for the same reason traditional retail outlets do. Why is it okay for major retail chains to avoid this, but not Steam?

              • Abnaxis says:

                I actually do take issue with Wal-Mart’s censorship practices. Many games have seriously modified their content under the threat of “if the game has X sex scene or Y controversial topic, Wal-Mart won’t carry it,” which I think has resulted in palpable harm to the industry. CDs can blip out the cusswords, but games and movies have to actually drop content to fly under that “M” rating or they’re sunk.

                While I can see an argument for closing the door on erotic content, there is definite harm in censorship as Chris suggests.

                • Ateius says:

                  Steam carries M-rated games. Neither Chris nor I are referring to Wal-Mart’s level of “Oh it might upset grandma” practices. I’m just using them as a convenient, well-known example of a retail store that doesn’t sell porn (last I checked).

                  • Abnaxis says:

                    A close reading of my post will reveal that I take umbrage with the fact that Wal-Mart’s policies have forced developers to reduce the quality of their product to meet the retailer’s demand. Whether you draw the line at ‘M-rated’ or not, that degradation in quality is still going to happen when Steam censors as well.

                    In short, I do want to be able to buy a game at Wal-Mart regardless of its rating, because that means developers don’t have to hobble themselves in order to meet the draconian demands of a corporate entity that shouldn’t be making decisions about what is and what isn’t valid art for me. But I suppose it’s Wal-Mart’s right to dictate what they want to put on their shelves…

                    • Ateius says:

                      Okay. I respect your position with regards to developer’s artistic freedom vs. a corporation’s right to determine what products they carry. Couple things, though:

                      1) You were the one who brought up the M rating as a line to be crossed, not me. (“CDs can blip out the cusswords, but games and movies have to actually drop content to fly under that “M” rating or they’re sunk.”)

                      2) A close reading of your post reveals only that we appear to be operating under vastly different definitions of “quality”; your first post specifically refers to being forced to remove certain content. I would argue it is entirely possible to create a quality product that does not involve, say, nudity. A compromise in artistic vision, perhaps, but that is an inevitable decision an artist must face if they want to commercialize their work.

                      3) Chris is referring specifically to erotica and, I can only assume, “controversial” material of a similarly strong nature. This goes far beyond Wal-Mart saying that they won’t carry a game because it’s too violent or features too much swearing or hints at adult themes. To go from “Steam won’t carry porn” to “They’re going to censor everything that doesn’t meet some arbitrary puritanical standard” is an enormous leap to make.

                      4) Chris, still interested in hearing why Steam needs to be the exception when it comes to major storefronts not carrying erotica or highly controversial art.

                    • Shamus says:

                      While I can’t speak for Chris, I would say that in response to 4) – It’s not that Steam HAD to be an exception, it’s that some people were hoping this new thing might work in a new way. Steam didn’t (from the perspective of a hopeful indie) NEED to import the standards of American department stores. If I lived in Europe, where nudity standards are very different, it might be a bit of a disappointment to find that the global digital platform was serving me using values that are more restrictive than what I’m used to.

                      I don’t think the argument is, “Valve has no right to do this” but instead “We could have had something much better if they had done this differently”.

                    • Ateius says:

                      Being an American corporation, based in America, they might be more beholden to those cultural standards than people hope (and possibly legal standards? I’ve no idea how that stuff works vis-a-vis the internet).

                      That does help to explain his attitude, though. Assuming you’re right.

            • Vagrant says:

              I always felt that Valve’s steam is “The” distribution network specifically for their carefully crafted image. If it was all inclusive people would lose the ability to easily find the good and its reputation would be lesser. It is by culling the chaff that they are able to make themselves the premier place to be.

            • Infinitron says:

              “Is it just based off of screenshots and a “feel” for how offensive the game would be?”

              Uh, yes? We are human beings, not computers. We have a capacity to make “fuzzy” judgement calls. We can call it when we see it.

              Are we really prepared to have the prime digital distribution network on the PC refuse to deal with subversive, sexual, or controversial content just because we think they’re pretty cool dudes?

              Yes, absolutely, we are prepared. I don’t understand why this is so shocking to you. Can you watch porn on prime-time network television? No, you can’t.

            • Dreadjaws says:

              Yeah, I think you calling me pedantic is the highest point of hypocrisy I’ve seen from any of Shamus’s pals. You’re simply itching to win the discussion to the point where you seem to be pretending you were talking about something else entirely in every comment you make.

              Let’s go back to the erotic content in games for a second. You started complaining about it as if it were a problem exclusive of Greenlight yet now it seem you’re maligning Valve in its entirety for doing it. Ignoring for a moment the absolutely irritating fact that if you were mad at Valve for not allowing games with erotic content in its store you should have raised this issue before instead of pretending it’s only happening now, you’re still ignoring the fact that Steam is a family-focused store. They can’t just open a porn section. And if they could, they would have done it long ago.

              Furthermore, the thing about where does one draw the line between Mass Effect and Hentai is not only pretty obvious (explicit scenes with, say, genitalia on sight, for instance), it’s something that doesn’t compete Steam at all. We have a rating system for games, haven’t you heard? Sure, like every rating system it has flaws, but it’s either terribly naive or terribly pretentious to pretend it’s an easily solvable matter and that Valve should be the one to do so.

              To the issue of the $100 fee and the closed nature of the platform I already explained why it happened. And I already mentioned why it’s not as bad a thing as you and those guys make it out to be and why it’s still better than it was before. Yet you keep ignoring all that in your desire to outrage.

              Also, what is that “argue the downvote thing to this extent”? I mentioned the downvoting as much as the other things or even less. But I guess you just wanted an excuse to insult me, and since you couldn’t find one, you had to make one up.

              OK sure, I’ll humor you and talk about it once more. It was confusing at first, and minutes after launch there were threads like the one I linked to asking if downvoting deleted upvotes. Valve promptly responded, clarified it and changed it as soon as they could. Let me remind you of this: this is a new system. It’s bound to have flaws at launch. You have to stop pretending it should be perfect at launch. You have to stop pretending Valve is not doing anything about it. But more than all, you have to stop pretending the situatiom is worse than it was before.

              I’m honestly using the expression “misinformed” because I prefer to believe that you lack information rather than simply ignoring it. Otherwise, I’m just going to be forced to qualify you as a “raging fanboy”, because that’s what you sound like.

              • Chris says:

                I’m really not an anti-Valve fanboy, though!

                I got a golden potato achievement! I have three unusual hats at the moment, and have historically had six or seven more before trying to leave the trade! I’ve put over 500 hours into TF2! I’ve played through HL1, HL2, both HL2 episodes, all of Portal 1 and 2, and every level of L4D1 and L4D2! I have 500 games on Steam! I can’t fathom someone with those credentials being called blindly anti-Valve! Compared to, say, how Ubisoft treats the PC community, they’re an unbelievably fantastic company!

                But just because I’m a consumer of their goods and I like a lot of what they do doesn’t mean I should shut my brain off or refuse criticism of their actions. And, yeah, my interest in promoting a democratized games industry supersedes my subservience to a corporate entity, no matter how benevolent they may present themselves as.

                Valve’s good guys. But making sure we democratize the medium is more important. Making sure the biggest player in the PC distribution space isn’t focused only on Super Meat Boy but also on Dys4ia is more important. I get why people love Valve, I do. I love Valve too. But Greenlight is a move in Valve’s interest, not in the interest of the medium at large. And if I had to choose between my love for Valve’s work, and my love for the medium in the abstract? There’s no question which way my loyalties lie.

              • Shamus says:

                “We have a rating system for games, haven’t you heard?”

                ESRB ratings are managed by the ESRB board.It costs real money and a long wait to get an ESRB rating. You’ll notice many indies don’t have them. If you can get an ESRB rating, you probably don’t need Greenlight. Let’s say we’re talking about a game made by one person. Only that person knows what’s really in it, if you play all the content. Since Valve isn’t playing through the game, the author has to judge for themselves. And they have to pay $100 and they’re not even clear on what Valve’s rules are.

                Yes, the line between Mass Effect and Hentai is obvious if you treat it as a binary, but it’s actually a spectrum. An indie might be sitting on a game that’s an edge-case and have no idea where they need to draw the line.

                I actually think the “no adult content” thing makes a ton of business sense, but it also leaves indies in the position of entering a game that costs $100 to play and they’re not allowed to know the rules. Again, I’m on Valve’s side with regard to adult content (or at least, I wouldn’t expect them to do anything else) but he’s right about the “chilling effect”. If you don’t know where the line is, you’re going to stay away from it, which might compromise something really excellent that could technically qualify.

                • Dreadjaws says:

                  All of this is true, but again, it has nothing to do with Greenlight and little to do with Valve. All of these “offensive content” and such was there years before this particular service was launched.

                  Valve is taking advantage of being a monopoly? Maybe. But the reason they’re a monopoly is because they’re still the best at what they do. Do you see Origin or Gamefly doing even the slightest effort at something like this? The reason Valve is being bashed for this is because they’ve been so good to the medium that people take them for granted now and attack them as soon as they get the chance, completely forgetting that all the alternatives are much, much worse.

                  Yet again, this is a new system and Valve is still ironing its kinks. You can’t just all jump to conclusions about Valve being evil. Remember, Shamus, how much you despised Steam at the beginning. Valve did a lot to fix that, which proves they can and will listen to their customers. You just need to be patient and polite. You can comunicate your feelings towards the system without turning into the Hulk.

                  Yet, yet again, while Valve’s new service might not be perfect, it’s still better than other Digital Download services’ treatment of indies, which is to mostly pretend they don’t exist and sometimes won’t even sell to people outside North America.

                  And yet, yet, yet again, you don’t go to a Walmart to purchase a vibrator. Instead of trying to force Valve to start admitting a larger range of content by allowing more “edgy” games on their service and becoming an even bigger monopoly, shouldn’t we be pushing for a new service to raise and allow this?

                  • Shamus says:

                    “All of this is true, but again, it has nothing to do with Greenlight and little to do with Valve.”

                    I was responding to the “We have a ratings system” comment. I pointed out it didn’t make any sense. Now you’re saying the fact that it didn’t make any sense is… irrelevant? I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here. It really sounds like you’re lumping Chris and I together, which is odd because we have very different opinions on the matter.

                    “You can’t just all jump to conclusions about Valve being evil.”

                    I NEVER said any such thing.

                    • Aldowyn says:

                      Neither did Chris, and yeah you guys obviously have pretty differing opinions here.

                      This point goes to both of you: I’d consider the line to be either Dreadjaw’s idea of exposed genitalia, or the primary objective of the “game” being the sex as a reward, or something like that. It’s not really that difficult to pick a line and stay there.

                      To Chris:

                      Greenlight’s certainly better for indies than the previous system, and this conversa-gument gotten to the point that I’m not even sure what your main problem with the system is. It’s not particularly well-designed at the moment and some things (like the $100 fee) need to be tweaked, but those are things that can be modified over time. What, if anything, is fundamentally broken about the system? If it’s the lack of openness… Well, there’s the $100 fee which should probably be lowered, and then there’s the not allowing certain games on. In my opinion it’s totally up to Steam how much they want to push that envelope, and you certainly can’t blame them for playing it safe.

                    • Dreadjaws says:

                      Sorry, sorry, I replied to the wrong person. All that yellow confuses me.

                      Edit: I just realized I referred to you in the first person in my comment, Shamus, which surely contributed to the confusion. I didn’t intend to do that it was poorly worded on my part, I got confused again, I guess from being sleepy.

    • Infinitron says:

      Is this one also “absolutely fantastic”?

      “One indie dev’s take: http://www.sophiehoulden.com/fuck-steam//

      You linked to it in the description of your video.

      • Chris says:

        Ms. Houlden’s piece is certainly more… impassioned than most of the things I linked to, but I think it’s important to highlight dissent for these sorts of things.

        Both Steam and Valve have reality distortion fields that rival those of Apple or Nintendo. Just about any action they take is met with thunderous applause and is zealously defended by innumerable White Knights. While blindly bashing on popular entities for no reason other than that they’re popular does no one any good it’s important we make note of those who have opinions that differ from the norm if only because they would otherwise be drowned out by the cacophony of “Hurrahs!”

        While Houlden’s article is laden with profanity and a rather obscene gif, it highlights a valid response from the smaller members of the indie community – forsake Steam in the way it has seemingly forsaken them. The number of people making small, beautiful, intimate works that will never see the light of day on Steam continues to grow. Why fight to overturn a system that is build to exclude them when they can fight to promote alternative distribution platforms and models?

        So, yeah. It’s a little coarse and was written in the heat of the moment, but I stand by linking to Houlden’s article if only because it’s another perspective we’re not hearing enough of in all of this kerfluffle.

        • Josh Russ says:

          Understandably (with the people above not being entirely respectful) you are quite worked up about this, so I’m going to ask a question as politely as I can:
          How do you feel about people who enjoy the status of what steam has, I’m annoyed to see a lot of games that I have got very bored very quickly of playing on my tablet in the medium it was supposed to be enjoyed on, appearing on steam, with a higher price point, nothing added and actually an inferior product (For reference I am thinking about Babel Rising 3D, another annoyances is Brainpipe a plunge into unhumanity which plays like a really poorly executed version of Speedx 3D with everything interesting ripped out, but gets a pass as I got it in a bundle for a very low price)
          I enjoy using steam, I own nearly three hundred titles, and have only really played two hundred of them, and enjoy steam being a revered status, especially among indie devs, and am often frustrated by the mess that is Youtube, even to the point where I don’t even check my feed, preferring to check websites of people I know have decent things to say.

          Case study: whilst youtube is free, I pay for netflix, that guarantee of quality assurance in the things I am going to waste my time on is worth so much to me, that despite vowing to never pay for a subscription to an MMO, I was happy to put myself down for one after the month trial (though netflix really need to get their act together on the QA front, ten boring films are not even close to being worth one good one)

          Also what are your thoughts on the idea of an indie version of steam (that you would almost have to call Vapor) and using greenlight to transfer the top titles over to steam?

          • Thomas says:

            Your case study probably doesn’t work because your equating two different mediums, not just that but Netflix (at the moment) is considered run-off profit by content creators for TV networks, so is actually even much cheaper than the cost of that content because its considered free money by said networks who’ve already made the money to create content with TV advertising and subscription. That’s not a situation of someone picking out the quality products and only displaying those, but comparing huge publisher backed ones with ones created by people with no money. I guess it would work if you’re suggesting you don’t want to play indie games and see them on Steam due to their massively lower budget and irregular production values but I didn’t read that as the point you were suggesting?

            And the solution I’d suggest to your quality thing is what was suggested above. To gate it, so that there’s a service with an easier entry price that then gets directly put on a steam if it becomes successful.

        • Dasick says:

          “The number of people making small, beautiful, intimate works that will never see the light of day on Steam continues to grow.”

          Steam isn’t the environment for them. Steam never was such an environment and to be such an environment is asking for a lot of change from both Steam and their userbase.

          Steam is a publisher. Those kinds of games need a patron, a “white-collar person” to throw money at art projects for the sake of art projects.

          By the way… you know where I learn about the “small, beautiful, intimate works”? From the blogs and videos of people I know (as much as I can know someone on the Internet). You could say that I learn about the from small, friendly, intimate communities ;)

  18. So why isn’t Desura more publicised as the Indie Platform to be on?

    • Dirigible says:

      I downloaded Desura, and it can’t log on – Network Permissions are denied by default or something, and the only fix is a registry edit. For some reason I get an error message when I try to solve the issue, and the only result on Google for the error code is a fix for a specific issue for an entirely different program.

      Put simply, trying to get Desura to work isn’t worth my time. I don’t want to have to go finding error reports and messing around with my system settings just to try it out.

    • Josh Russ says:

      I just installed Desura and applied all the keys I’ve received from various bundles and have 23 titles on it (also emailed humble about it because I could have sworn more than just the frozen synapse bundle was supposed to be activated on desura)

      This is funny because my friend has 17 titles on steam and thought that was a lot until I showed him my 293

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I think it’s mostly because Steam beat them to it and has such a large head start.

    • Khizan says:

      Cause damn near everybody who plays computer games has a Steam account.

      Since I already have a Steam account, already have it installed, and usually have it running on my computer, getting me to buy your game on Steam takes maybe a handful of clicks if I like what I look at. Super convenient.

      You sell a game on Desura, and odds are that you’re going to have to ask new people to download a new client, put their credit card information in a new client, etc, etc. It’s a harder sell.

  19. StashAugustine says:

    The big thing that nobody really knows right now is this: how hard is it to get on Steam? If I put something on Greenlight, will it get there eventually? How fast? Will it disappear if it doesn’t get upvoted in a time period?

    • Even says:

      I don’t think anybody is ever really going to know. Though I doubt they’re going start kicking projects off unless they’re breaking the rules. You spent money for it after all. It’s still best to accept that not all projects will be going through and hope that you’ll stand out enough to get the votes and attention. And to do that I’d first gather a following outside of Steam and only go for it when and if I’d be already somewhat established.

  20. Jarenth says:

    So here’s a question I’ve been pondering: how many people actually take the time to browse through Greenlight on a semi-regular basis? I only interact with the service when specifically asked to upvote something.

    Hell, it just took me five minutes to find out how to get there from the main application. The browsing system is still a mess, huh?

    There currently doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of incentive for people to browse the Greenlights, so to speak. This may change later, but for now, I can either spend time looking at games I might want to be able to play, sometime in the nondistinct spacefuture, or I can spend time looking at games I can buy and play right now. It’s not a hard choice.

    Past all the debates of privilege and money, how effective is Greenlight at the moment?

    EDIT: I just found out that No Time To Explain is on Greenlight. This is a game that I own and have played, and I had to find out it was trying to get on Steam because a random algorithm decided it had to be so. I’m unsure what I think about this.

    • Even says:

      Can’t say I’d been terribly interested yet. Only browsed it briefly when it came out. I might check every now and then in the future but there’s already more games there than I really care to check out.

    • rofltehcat says:

      I looked into Greenlight when it was released, upvoted a few things I found great and haven’t been there since. I’ll now browse it again for a while.

      €: I’m back. One of my findings:
      The common “Can’t find new games because the navigation seems broken/some games are offered several times” problem is completely user-based.
      It seems to randomly generate a queue of a few games. Once I clicked through all of them (no thanks for many), I can generate a new queue and other games get offered. I can also generate a new queue before having decided on all the games in the old one. However, this may cause games from the old queue to reappear if they haven’t been declined (no thanks)

    • Chris says:

      So here’s a question I’ve been pondering: how many people actually take the time to browse through Greenlight on a semi-regular basis? I only interact with the service when specifically asked to upvote something.

      Hell, it just took me five minutes to find out how to get there from the main application. The browsing system is still a mess, huh?

      That’s the other thing that gamers seem to be confused about. “Once you’re on Greenlight Steam is giving you, like, free advertising! They’re providing you a service!”

      Well, no, not really. Maybe to the few dozen people who A) use Greenlight regularly, and B) Get your game in their randomly generated list of games.

      But if anything, it’s an incentive to spend lots of money/time on not free advertising. Running a Greenlight campaign is probably as time consuming (if not as financially draining) as running a Kickstarter. You need to do Reddit posts, AMAs, Twitter campaigns, Facebook posts, forum updates – whatever it takes to get eyeballs on your game because that’s the only way you’re going to get upvoted past the 0-1% mark. Heck, I’ve even seen a game offer up a discount code only available on Greenlight just to get you to visit the damned page.

      Greenlight is not free advertising, Greenlight is a project that requires additional advertising.

      As to its overall efficacy? Ten games have been approved, and countless games have been committed. From a developer’s standpoint, I wouldn’t hold my breath even if I had my hands on some a game that would resonate really well with the hardcore base that ends up voting the most.

      • Aldowyn says:

        *shrug* How many of these games were you expecting/hoping to get actually ON Steam? This is an opportunity that straight-up didn’t exist before. It’s better than nothing, right? And no one’s said anything to FIX it.

        Anyway, I suppose this post isn’t really an argument against Greenlight, but against the argument. I’ll accept it as that. Although possibly not agree.

        One thing: How many kickstarter projects would you have heard of if they weren’t on kickstarter? That little bit of free advertising they DO get is enough to get a viral campaign started, in pretttty much EXACTLY the same manner as kickstarter.

        • krellen says:

          I would have heard of every Kickstarter project I have backed and/or otherwise supported if not for Kickstarter.

        • Lupis42 says:

          To the best of my knowledge, none of them.
          I found out about their existence on Kickstarter through word of mouth (or, in the case of Zombicide, word of blog). The word generally takes the form of: here is a thing, if you find it to be as awesome as I do, please throw money at it and in the hope that it becomes real.

      • Abnaxis says:

        Do you know if it is only a few dozen users? I ask because I am genuinely interested–I mean, Steam provides statistics like that a lot, right?

        Saying “Greenlight requires more advertizing” is missing the point that’s being made when someone espouses advertizing benefits of Greenlight. If the only way you look at Greenlight is “a way to get on Steam” and don’t try to take advantage of the attention that $100 has bought you, it might look like a net loss. But there’s more to be had from Greenlight than entrance onto Steam, and cash-strapped developers should be taking advantage of all of them.

        Even if the number of views on a game is only on the order of a couple dozen, that couple dozen is a part of a laser-focused demographic. If they are viewing your post, they are (by design) people on the market for an indie title, specifically an indie title in the genre you’ve categorized yourself in. I think you’re underestimating the value of this.

        When you pay for advertizing on Facebook or Google, you pay more for more targeting (and more time–remember that $100 buys unlimited time on Greenlight, at least for now). I can’t imagine a way to hit a more ideal focused subset of the population than Greenlight users, and a savvy developer should be able to find a way to get their $100 worth out of it.

    • MintSkittle says:

      I’ve been going through Greenlight almost every day, cause I’m currently using Steam every day, usually go through 2 queues/24 games. I’ve actually thrown out more up-votes than I thought I would, though that could be because I set my queue preferences (go RPGs and Strategy games). I do see the occasional oddball (wtf is this twin-stick shooter doing with an RPG tag), for the most part it’s been pointing me to some good looking stuff.

      I find myself getting impatient reading lengthy descriptions to games with only 4-5 screenshots, and giving more consideration to pitches that have a 3-5 minute gameplay trailer. That tends to tell me more about the game than any text description. Fair? Probably not.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Out of curiosity, will you buy all the games that you have upvoted?

        • MintSkittle says:

          Not all of them, but quite a few. Some have neat concepts or an interesting mechanic that intrigues me, and though it may not scratch my particular itch, is still interesting enough that I want to see the dev get some recognition. Some Examples:

          Gnomoria
          http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92929339&searchtext=
          Dwarf Fortress with graphics and a decent user interface, and I can use the mouse too? I’d buy that.

          Kenshi
          http://steamcommunity.com/workshop/news/?appid=765
          open world sandbox where you can be just about anything you want, from a sneak thief to a merchant to leader of a mercenary guild. This has been greenlit. I’d probably buy it, if I was in a dry spell for games.

          It’s a Wipe
          http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92974516&searchtext=
          SRPG where you are a guild leader and all the other members are AI controlled, and you have to issue orders to get them to work together to complete quests and raids without getting themselves killed. I probably would not buy it, but the concept amuses me.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          It depends on which order they are released whether I have enough in the monthly budget for buying the releases for that month, but eventually yes. I have two hundred games on my wishlist, and almost eight hundred games on my account.

          “Well golly, you sure ain’t poor if you have eight hundred Steam games! That’s like twenty thousand dollars of merchandise!”

          Not really thanks to Steam sales, bundles, sales on bundles, and focusing on games that have low prices to begin with. Over all I’ve only spent a few thousand, spread over almost five years since I got The Orange Box. It’s not super difficult to have a library of hundreds of games if you just budget correctly and don’t worry about having the most expensive things (until they go down in price enough).

          Most Greenlight games fall into my desired price range, but I still reject about half of those I vote on because I’m keeping the budget in mind and making sometimes-hard choices. And some months I get nothing, even though I want something, because my car needs work or whatever. And I don’t buy comics or DVDs anymore (and for the forseeable future), because I made the choice to focus on games. It’s all about budgeting the money you have.

          Which is why I say complaining about the $100 Greenlight fee is shortsighted and pathetic.

    • X2Eliah says:

      I haven’t been on greenlight even once, and refuse to do so. I’m not a reality show affictionado, so Greenlight is repulsive to me.

  21. Eljacko says:

    I think people are seriously missing the point here. Everyone seems to be complaining about how the Greenlight system isn’t helping indie devs enough. I myself don’t believe that the point of Greenlight was ever to help out indie devs. It might have been a point, but certainly not the main point. I feel the true purpose of Greenlight was to benefit the consumer.

    Valve has always been highly pro-consumer. Their unintrusive DRM-masquerading-as-a-game-platform, high quality games, and lauded Steam sales should be enough to prove that to anyone. I believe that Greenlight, rather than a tool for indie devs, is meant more as a boon to consumers. Greenlight wasn’t a way for Valve to open up their platform. It was simply a way for the community to decide who to open it up to.

    • Blackbird71 says:

      I’m sure this is a point where opinions differ greatly from person to person, but I would hardly describe Steam’s DRM as “unintrusive.” In order to play a single-player game, I have to run a separate background client and connect to an online service. Yes it can run in offline mode, but if my connection goes down unexpectedly and I didn’t put Steam in offline mode beforehand, I am now denied access to my games. It requires (and stores) my personal information, including billing information. If there is ever a problem with Steam’s servers, or if Valve goes out of business (which is more of a possibility than many believe), I am denied access to my games.

      Steam may not be the worst DRM out there, but it is far more intrusive than I am comfortable with. It just seems that enough people like the upside of Steam that they are willing to compromise and put up with the DRM; but that doesn’t make it any less intrusive.

  22. Irridium says:

    Another thing I’d like to point out. Valve has always been going on about being open. About how open platforms are the future. Gabe Newell has been pretty critical of Apple and Microsoft’s closed systems, and praised Linux for it’s open nature.

    And here we are with Steam and Greenlight. Closed systems. Greenlight could have been a way for Valve to “walk the walk,” so to speak. To show being open was the future. I’m hoping the $100 charge is just temporary until they find a better way to filter out the fake stuff.

    • Lupis42 says:

      An interesting perspective. That certainly runs counter to what I had assumed the goal was, which was to lighten somewhat the workload that reviewing all of the Steam submissions doubtless is.

  23. Khizan says:

    As far as the $100 fee and the developers who just absolutely positively cannot scrape that up…

    When you get down to it, I think that if they aren’t able to find enough supporters to collectively put together what is essentially a $100 donation to Child’s Play, their game and/or publicity skills wouldn’t be able to make the Greenlight cut anyways.

  24. Nidokoenig says:

    About the $100 fee, the Greenlight Bundle ended recently, with nine games included. 2316 bundles were sold, and even if we make the apocalyptically pessimistic assumption that every last payment was $1, that’s $237.33 each, and the fees for those transactions, the bandwidth, etc probably didn’t wipe out over half of that(I’m guessing). So even in the worst case scenario they made enough to cover the Greenlight fee, which these early birds don’t have to pay anyway.

    This model could be used by others, and since it basically works on the various members ability to draw pageviews, the same as Greenlight, not being able to raise the fee through a bundle would be a low cost sign that they really need to rethink their strategy. Of course, it’s also possible for a bundle to be carried or weighed down by one member, but basically it works as a fundraiser and early awareness raiser.

    As was mentioned somewhere above, Desura is also a thing and and a good way to raise money and awareness, and from what I understand its barrier to entry is low.

    As has been mentioned above, actually getting people looking at Greenlight is an issue. Maybe if people could optionally back their vote for something to be Greenlit with $1 and get $3 or something off the launch price, with the dev getting the money if the drive is successful, and the money put in the voters’ Steam Wallets or given to charity if the drive is considered unsuccessful could work.

    I haven’t even looked at the current Greenlight submissions myself, though, but that’s mostly because a few months of dodgy internet got me out of the habit of opening Steam when it’s not vital.

    The really interesting thing about this is going to come out after the first Greenlit games come out and Valve can start crunching the numbers on upvote-to-purchase conversion rate and hopefully sharing them. It even raises the possibility of user votes being weighted by that conversion rate, though that only makes sense if you assume an upvote is for a game you want to buy, not one you just think is high quality if not necessarily to your taste.

  25. Even says:

    While I can appreciate the poor indie dev’s plight, as a customer I have to say I’m just glad they have a system for filtering the trash. It was just ridiculous on its first day when it still was open to everyone. From my limited understanding of how these things work, it’s just kinda hard to see the big deal in the size of the entry fee. It’s a pretty trivial cost in the bigger scheme of things and the people who actually benefit from it could really use it. If anything, it provides a certain sense of trust that someone deemed the game you’re voting on important enough to shell out some cash for, which is a lot more than most would ever get in a fully open system. While it’s no guarantee of good intentions, it’s still a lot better than the chaotic free market I witnessed.

    • Itse says:

      Have to go with this. I don’t want yet another garbage bin site out there. There are plentey of Ebays, YouTubes and whatever stupid discussion forums out there. There are very few moderated sites. This is bad. The internet would be better if it had more sites that were closed and moderated with care, not less.

      Also; if releasing on the internet seems too tough for you, get a job with a steady paycheck and forget about being an entrepreneur. Stop whining that a specific company isn’t doing business the way you like.

      If anything, Valve should sell less games, not more. Really handpick the ones they sell.

      Also, and here we get to my peeves:

      To claim that the cream rises to the top in an open service is blatantly false, pure magical thinking. Go check out the most popular YouTube videos. I occasionally do. There has never been even one video that I would consider checking out, even for giggles. And I’m actually not that hard to amuse. I like boobs and songs about genitals. That would seem like Shakespeare on Youtube.

      Outside of few select sites, I’m not crazy about user ratings because 99% of people have opinions that are worthless to me. They either have different tastes or they don’t take even five seconds to properly evaluate their experience on any meaningful scale. Pretty much everything on YouTube is liked more than disliked. It doesn’t mean that most of it is worth seeing.

      The internet popularity contest tends to bring stuff like 50 Shades of Grey to the top; lowest common nominator, totally random, totally average, even though it might amuse some people.

      To say that cream rises to the top makes as little sense as saying that the most popular movies are the best ones. It’s so obviously not true that it feels stupid to need to say it out loud.

  26. SteveDJ says:

    tl;dr

    Just wanted to comment on the voting. I followed the link in the post, to check out the entry on Greenlight. So, then it asks “would you buy this game if it were available on Steam?” Of course I would, so I want to click “YES”.

    But then it tells me I have to sign up first. Wait a minute there. I guess what I need is a question that says “Would you sign up for Steam, and then buy the game, if it were available on Steam?”. Because right now, I have no reason to sign up (signing up just to vote isn’t worth it to me).

    • Zukhramm says:

      If you don’t Steam, how could you buy it on Steam?

    • Khizan says:

      IIRC, not only do you need to have a Steam account, you need to have a verified Steam account, which means “a Steam account that’s been used to purchase at least one game”.

      I imagine that this is to help ensure honest voting and avoid the ballot stuffing so common to, well, absolutely everything that you vote for online that doesn’t use a similar verification method.

    • Seconded. I like curation – it’s a useful function that Valve performs for me, the consumer. Will great games slip through the cracks and never get seen because Steam is too restrictive? Will they get lost in a sea of shit if steam is too open? The answer to both is ‘yes’ but only one of them is going to be annoying to the customer. Finding a gem among dozens of different games is great fun, finding one among thousands is just frustrating.

      I recently got a kindle and I am loving it – buying (and reading) a hell of a lot more books than I had previously (and wanting to read Witch Watch gave me the final push I needed). But I am already getting quite tired with the way the kindle shop is organised. Of the top 100 books, the first 5 spots are fifty shades of grey, and the other 95 spots taken either by well known classics or utter drek. And the free books list is worse…

  27. Mattias42 says:

    I read the previus comments, but if this has been said already, forgive me.

    A thing that the video and (so far) the comments seem to be missing/ignoring is that the old way of getting on steam still exists.

    If you can’t get 100 $ then you can still submit it for review by Valve themselves.

    Don’t quote me on this, but wasn’t that even the stated purpose of Greenlight? To give otherwise good games (and by extension their developers) that slipped through the cracks in the old system a SECOND chance.

  28. Alec W says:

    Why don’t they use Desura, from ModDB?

    http://www.desura.com/

  29. Abnaxis says:

    I think the adult content filtering issue is an interesting subject, because it is demonstrates a way the global economy might very well be doing more harm than good. Differing locales have differing standards on how “adult” content is handled and it would take much more effort on the part of Steam to get through the minefield that is the legal framework of all the different ratings agencies. They would have to fully review all submissions for adult content, which defeats the purpose of crowdsourcing to begin with.

    That said, it makes me sad that Steam has to censor in order to make their service feasible. I long for the day when the world realizes that if a child really wants it, they can find porn on the internet for free regardless of the broad powers we give large entities to censor speech to prevent it.

  30. ThePerson5 says:

    I posted this on Campster’s blog, but my feelings on his video:

    “Have you ever considered that maintaining the ‘app store’ or Youtube of video games may be extremely difficult? The idea that, if Valve were to open up their system, the cream would automatically rise to the top is okay in theory, but Valve is not exactly a huge, multinational corporation like Apple is. They can’t spare hundreds of people to playtest and constantly maintain a never-ending stream of Indie games. If they were to simply open up the floodgates, suddenly hundreds of people would be asking them for support for games they haven’t even checked, their servers would be put under huge strain from all the new downloads, and all of the problems at the start with ‘prank games’ would be back, and nearly uncontrollable. The $100 fee was put into place for that exact purpose: stop all of the spam and fake games coming in.”

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