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Gabe Newell's vision for Steam: More choice, more democracy, less Greenlight
Gabe Newell's vision for Steam: More choice, more democracy, less Greenlight
February 6, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

February 6, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
Comments
    60 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing



Valve's Gabe Newell is an interesting man in an interesting position.

His company's Steam platform has changed the way people consume games on their computers, in many ways democratizing which games consumers choose to play by opening the doors to weirder and more experimental independent developers. And now he's targeting the living room, with Steam's Big Picture Mode and with simple "Steam Box" units that will plug into televisions coming in the very near future.

But one big hurdle is Steam's approval process: as Newell himself admits, Steam is a "dictatorship," and that has to change.

At a candid talk at the University of Texas recently, Newell outlined his vision of where Steam is going: doing away with the approval process, converting Steam into a network API that any developer can call, transferring ownership of its "boring" storefront to its users and, surprisingly, killing off the "Greenlight" crowd-voted approval process introduced just months ago.

We've highlighted some choice quotes below.

Doing away with the approval process

"One of the worst characteristics of the current Steam system is that we've become a bottleneck. There's so much content coming at us that we just don't have enough time to turn the crank on the production process of getting something up on Steam. So whether we want to or not, we're creating artificial shelf space scarcity.

"So the right way to do that is to make Steam essentially a network API that anyone can call. Now, this is separate from issues about viruses and malware. But essentially, it's like, anyone can use Steam as a sort of a distribution and replication mechanism.

"It's the consumers who will draw it through. It's not us making a decision about what should or shouldn't be available. It's just, you want to use this distribution facility? It's there. And customers decide which things actually end up being pulled through. So Steam should stop being a curated process and start becoming a networking API."

User-generated stores

"Another piece of Steam is the store. The store is… I don't know about you, but I think the store is really boring. It's like this super middle-ground marketing thing. Like, oh, here's a list of features in our game.

"The stores instead should become user-generated content. Other companies can take advantage of this as well, but if a user can create his own store -- essentially add an editorial perspective and content on top of the purchase process… then we've created a mechanism where everybody, in the same way we've seen a huge upsurge of user-generated content with hats, we think that there's a lot of aggregate value that can be created by allowing people to create stores.

"A store is just another piece of content that can be created that creates overall value for all of this collectively.

"I'd buy stuff from Yahtzee. I would buy everything from Old Man Murray."

Bye bye, Greenlight?

"Right now we have inside of Steam we have a dictatorship.

"It's probably bad for the Steam community, in the long run, not to move to a different way of thinking about that. In other words, we should stop being a dictator and move towards much more participatory, peer-based methods of sanctioning player behavior.

"Greenlight is a bad example of an election process. We came to the conclusion pretty quickly that we could just do away with Greenlight completely, because it was a bottleneck rather than a way for people to communicate choice."


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Comments


Michael Rooney
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I'm curious how this shift would affect the perception of steam. I like steam in significant part because it is somewhat currated. I'm curious how they can ensure a good quality bar if it becomes as open as it sounds.

Simon Ludgate
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I have similar concerns about the lack of approvals. The approval adds value to the customer: it ensures the games work and aren't malware and supposedly ensures a modicum of quality to make it worth purchasing.

I rarely buy any games for my Google Android phone because of the lack of curation: I have no way of sifting through heaps and heaps of crapware to find a game worth playing, let alone buying. If the same thing happened to Steam I'd be forced to bail out.

Then again, the concept of user stores adds some potential saving face. There could be multiple storefronts, multiple curators each offering their opinions on what games are worth buying. In theory, this could be really fantastic: find a curator who's tastes match your own and you'll never have to sift through junk again.

In practice, this could just be another layer of junk: too many curators competing for the same "best storefront" and you've got just as much of a hard time picking out a storefront as you do picking out a game.

Kenneth Blaney
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The store concept just pushes the idea of discoverability one level deeper. That is, now people want their stores to be noticed (much in the same way as brick and mortars are run) and so they might band together in larger groups (like the Greenlight Collections) so stores can be niche and still reach as wide an audience as possible.

The positive end, however, is that this essentially streamlines all of the various indie bundles that exist. Valve, I think, is looking to leverage that market by allowing people with all sorts of skills monetize through their service. (It started with dev studios. Then 3D artists and level designers could start selling various freemium addons to TF2. Now business and marketing people can make stores to monetize their skills.)

Lewis Wakeford
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I'd like to thing they would still curate the front page to a certain extent. So it's not like some guys college project is going to end up in the new releases bit on the front page, but it's on steam for people to buy if they find about it via word of mouth.

I'm just guessing though.

Svein-Gunnar Johansen
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I share your curiousness on the subject as I also quite like today's arrangement from a customer perspective. But I am even more curious to see how the new plans might pan out.

I say, give it a shot! If it fails, Steam can always return to its current state by delegating user created stores and unsanctioned game submissions to someplace other than the front page.

Ameet Virdee
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Yah I think there's a logical flaw in what Gabe is saying. He wants to democratize the games marketplace, but it *is* already democratized. Anyone can produce a competitor to steam if they wanted, and they already do exist. Curating is part of what makes Steam, Steam. He said he thinks people will start following people who pick good games for their store, but they already do; they are following Steam.

I think this is quite simply about profitability. He wants to leverage the goodwill he's developed with Steam so there's less work for them for more gain (a traditional Valve practice, and nothing bad in itself for a business). You can make and lose money quite easily as a speculative trader, but you always make money as a trade broker. By letting anyone set up a steam store he's letting them take the risk and make the curating effort, while taking a cut from everything that actually sells...essentially crowd-sourcing the approval process.

The quality bar you mention shouldn't be affected, really, as there are plenty of people who would be worth following, and it will usually self-sort with the popular becoming more popular.

Robert Boyd
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Right now, Steam sits at a happy medium between extremely curated storefronts like XBLA and anarchy like we see in the mobile space. If they don't tread carefully here, they could ruin that delicate balance.

Scott Burns
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That's exactly what their current problem is though, they don't have a balance. There are frequently games or updates to existing games that get rejected because of a driver issues that affects less than a percent of users and yet completely and totally broken games like Hotline Miami get pushed on through. That one still isn't playable as far as I'm aware.

They need to choose one extreme or the other as what they've been doing lately is causing more harm to the reputation of the platform itself than throwing the doors wide open could.

K Gadd
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It only counts as a 'delicate balance' if you're part of the club that gets publishing slots on Steam. I don't think the people outside the club consider it to be particularly delicate or balanced.

Enrique Dryere
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As an indie dev trying to slug through the Greenlight process, I'm glad to hear that the process is being given continued thought and care. What I'm hearing here excites me, but the change will be a double edged sword. I know first-hand that the bottle necking is a problem, yet it also drastically reduces the "noise-to-signal ratio" of games that actually make it onto Steam. That is to say, once your game is actually "Greenlit" you can expect a drastic increase in sales because it enters a restricted market.

Ultimately, I think that curation is essential, but shouldn't simply be left to public opinion. Just as agents and publishers carefully select books, industry experts should screen games that make it onto Steam, so that there is still some measure of prestige and exclusivity -- or rather a guarantee of quality -- associated with being on Steam. These don't have to be Sages pulled off a lofty summit somewhere in the Himalayas; there's tons of gamers and journalists that are more than knowledgeable enough to work in this regard, giving games a fair chance, scrutiny, and not just voting based on a screen shot or based on a genre.

Russ Menapace
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Seems like that would open the door for every store owner to be a curator. They'd be competing for players just like games do now, hopefully with the better curated stores rising to prominence. Sounds like it could work really well... I'm interested in seeing what happens.

Dave Reed
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This all sounds pretty good. If they let anyone+everyone put a game on Steam, but rely on the users to curate it, it could work out quite well.

Valve can still run their store as they do now, promoting their own games and the big releases, and on the surface it could appear to be barely changed.

But dig a bit deeper, and you could find all sorts of niche/experimental/amateur titles that simply can't get onto Steam as it is now. Maybe a user store specialising in roguelikes, for example. Just being able to easily get a game onto Steam, even with no help to promote it from Valve, would be a huge win for smaller/lesser-known indies!

Instead of putting time into chasing Greenlight upvotes, we could actually be chasing very real sales - even if it does mean a somewhat more App Store-like environment where a lot of games disappear without a trace.

However it works out, it's really good news that they've realised that Greenlight isn't working.

Georgina Bensley
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They'll still need to have *some* platform control, though, or they'll get themselves into other difficulties. Monitoring for copyright issues, for example, not to mention the adult content issue. While I personally do not object to porn games, last I checked Valve still did... so they'd need to consider how to handle that.

If they keep their store looking mostly like it is now but allow people to quietly in the background use Steam as a payment processor to sell their own weird indie titles, some indie devs will definitely see benefits (We all get semi-customers who write us and complain that they won't buy it if they can't use Steam, because Steam is easier to buy with). Other payment processors may not be pleased though!

Speaking of which, you can still be chasing very real sales NOW, you know... Other sales tools exist!

Dave Reed
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Well, Google have managed a system with no manual review whatsoever, and XBLIG managed with peer review. But an Apple-style system (basic checks to filter out offensive content and completely broken apps) would be great.

Anything that removes Steam's version of 'concept approval' (without relying on a popularity contest instead) would be a great thing. Even if it creates a multi-tiered system, with the main Steam storefront like the XBLA and a 'Steam App Store' like the XBLIG.

Michael Rooney
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@"Well, Google have managed a system with no manual review whatsoever"

I am fairly sure this is not the case.

TC Weidner
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sounds good, I like where he is going. I think there really only needs to be a bare minimum of curatorship.
Much like You tube, except with one additional filter to make sure no malware or viruses exist.

Jimmy Albright
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Respectfully I disagree. There is so much spam and garbage that gets submitted with less curation that it's easy for good titles to never see the light of day.

The last thing I want to do when I'm browsing the marketplace is have to go through piles and piles of shovelware.

To me Gabes response comes off as "we don't have the resources to deal with this, so here's a model that requires us to do the bare minimum." Microsoft did this with XBLIG, and that worked out so well. Right guys?

Honestly, Valve just seems spread way too thin. For a company staffed of ~300 employees they have trouble just releasing software in a reasonable time.

TC Weidner
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and I respectfully disagree. They will also give people the tools so that there can be many curators for many different likes, instead of just one. Good titles like always will be easy to find.

Jimmy Albright
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So peer reviewing, essentially? How is that any different than XBLIG outside of having individual stores? To me it seems that's going to end up being worse in a saturated/bigger pond like PC gaming.

It's a slippery slope.

Vin St John
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@Jimmy - it's significantly different from XBLIG. The idea is more akin to Amazon storefronts - anything can be sold through Amazon, as long as it meets certain legal requirements and makes certain customer guarantees. Amazon merely acts as the storefront software provider and as the payments system provider (taking a cut, of course). The individual storefronts are maintained by different publishers, or by publications, or by power users maintaining their 'Top RPGs Lists.' There are still noise-to-signal ratio problems in sorting through which STORES are worth paying attention to, but nobody can block a game from being greenlit altogether. Power to push a game is derived from outside influence, i.e. Activision's ability to get its players to subscribe to its in-Steam store.

Jimmy Albright
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@Vin St John Right, I get that. The problem is instead of fighting to get your game through submission you're going to be fighting against infinite amounts of shovelware to get noticed to get on whatever the popular stores are. To some people getting your game on steam is going to mean very little when it gets no attention and is buried beneath shovelware, similar to some of the problems with XBLIG.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Jimmy
You can get noticed prior to publishing. Maybe not by the main store front, but say there is a store front specialising in your genre of game that lots of people use, you can just contact the curator and say "Hey, my game is coming out in 2 months, it's the genre of game you and your customers like, here is a beta copy/gameplay video/whatever." and as long as it isn't obviously shovel-ware they would probably put it up on release.

Christopher Thigpen
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There is only one true feature I would love for Steam. And that is the ability to port all games on steam to whatever PC device you have.

I hate as a primary mac user (for work), that when I travel, I am only stuck to the games available for mac.

This would be my one and only dream for Steam. They do that, they rule the world....even more so.

Bob Johnson
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Well that is a fantasy unfortunately.

Although you can pretty much play any older pc game through virtual Windows. Not sure where the cutoff is... at least 10 yrs old generally speaking?

William Johnson
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bootcamp...?

Bob Johnson
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Very interesting.

My thought is it sounds like a lot of work for me the consumer. :)

But i guess he has that covered too as it sounds like I could choose the curated route if I want to. I can choose the standard store front.

Bob Charone
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Maybe they don't need curation, if Valve can give some games a Valve Seal of Quality!

Matt Wilson
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If Valve doesn't do that, a "storefront" will. Either way, this will result in a two-tiered (or more) store, similar to the XBox.

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Josh Fairhurst
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Do you currently have a game on Greenlight? If not, you'll understand why it doesn't work when you do put one on there. If your game isn't easily marketed to the mainstream your chances are almost zilch at cracking the top 20. My company's game has been buried on Greenlight since the first week. In Week #1 we achieved 8,000 "Yes" votes - after that we completely flat-lined since we became buried under the new or more popular entries. We're in a limbo now around 9,000 votes with almost no movement. Keep in mind Week #1 was the first week of Greenlight - so over the last six months only 1,000 people have managed to find and up vote us. Getting into the top 10 games (the ones that actually make it on to Steam) requires 60,000+ "Yes" votes. Good luck getting that if you're a niche game!

Also, users are forming opinions completely based on screenshots and text. It's not uncommon to see comments like "NO! This looks like a flash game!". It's unfortunate because these people have no idea whether the games in question are actually good - yet they're the ones with the power to get those games on Steam. It sucks!

There needs to be a way for developers to get on Steam without Greenlight, plain and simple. Niche games (that may sell 10k to 20k copies on Steam) really don't stand a chance passing Greenlight.

The big problem is that the users on Greenlight only represent a very small slice of Steam's actual customers.

Michael G
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I think you inadvertently hit a key point there Josh. Gabe clearly has too much faith in humanity. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the concept here but people generally gravitate to what they know, most people on Steam know AAA titles and only venture into indie games because Steam puts them in a high profile position at a low price.
If (god forbid) Jay-Z created a store page for people to peruse, there would probably be a 5:1 ratio of Call of Duty to Anything Else.
Democracy may sound like a fair and happy utopia on paper but without outside influence more often than not you just stagnate.

Dave Reed
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One problem with Greenlight is simply the numbers. Around 1000 Greenlight pages were created, maybe a fair bit more by now. Last time I checked, only 6 greenlit titles had made it to Steam.

Yes, more than that have been approved, but some where in the quite early stages of development. The gaming community seem more likely to upvote an unrealistic concept/design than the actual reality of an indie game.

Also, Greenlight seems to encourage trend-following (e.g. zombies or voxel games) and very ambitious games, and oldschool arcade-style games - shmups and platformers - don't seem to stand much chance, even when they look very polished.

There's also the real hate being shown for anything ported from a mobile platform. Vocal elements of the gaming community are making a real effort to deem mobile ports as 'not Steam-worthy'. Even when it's a genuinely decent game.

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Michael Joseph
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Valve and Steam are moving away from a publishing focus to a retail one. Or maybe it only looks like retail because they're essentially accepting all applications? It can still be a publisher that promotes certain titles by adding service tiers.

There are more game developers than ever. There are more games being made each year than ever. You'd better bring your A-Game if you want to succeed. That's how it should be.

With Steam going to a network API, does this mean that you will even be able to host Unity web player, Flash or HTML5 games on your "storefront?"

Steam could end up competing directly with Facebook and Friends but with a pricing model that makes it more appealing to average developers. A Facebook for game developers... hmm?

Daneel Filimonov
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I think Greenlight was an inevitable stage for Steam to go through. Of course, part of this is because Valve had yet to experience what it was like to have the customer choose what should and shouldn't be on Steam. I hope Valve figures this out! I'm sure they have a game plan.

Erin OConnor
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I almost think steam is moving toward what Amazon is.

There is still the amazon storefront (and there will still be a steam storefront.)

But they are opening the door for others to have their own store within steam to sell their own games much like there are multiple retailers and vendors that use amazon as their storefront.

I like it. Now any publisher can create and sell their games on their own storefront via steam.
It also allows others (GoG maybe ?) to create and sell via steam as well.

Heck, even I could create my own store and sell via steam!

I smell a lot of win here.

Simon Ludgate
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Another potential concern would be whether or not the games purchased through Steam remain accessible through steam. If Steam just opens up as an API, who hosts the games? If Valve still hosts them and there's no approval process, what's to stop some jerk from uploading a bajillion petabyte "game" just to clog up their servers? If Valve doesn't host them, what's to stop the company that is hosting it from pulling the plug and making you lose your digital purchase?

John Flush
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This - over the Christmas sale I was very tempted to pick up Steam copies of the Galactic Civ only to find in the forums that it required a different username and password and login process. This kills what steam is to me. Steam is convenience - multiple storefronts will breed more of these 'authenticate with us instead' stores which can go screw themselves and when that happens steam will die for me and I'll go back to Gog.com seeming they treat me like a customer and not a pirate.

A S
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To people who are posting "greenlight sucks unless you already have a large fanbase". Hello! That's what Valve is after. They want to grow their platform. One way to do that is by expanding their content and then marketing through their own methods. The other, and probably one they vastly prefer, is to sell games that are already popular and absorb that fanbase into Steam and cross-sell.

Dave Reed
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If you've got a large fanbase, and a game that can pretty much guarantee good sales, it seems pretty clear that Valve will *already* let you bypass Greenlight and fast-track you onto Steam.

Which begs the question of who is Greenlight really for, and is it really anything more than a graveyard for games that Valve doesn't want to even spend the time evaluating?

Joshuah Kusnerz
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My concern is that this will open doors to allowing more shovelware games. We saw the misstep in allowing War-Z to be released in such a unfinished, falsely advertised state. When games like that start getting let through it could be a short ride to actual vaporware scams that will take your financial information for no return. We could see games released with Trojans or key-loggers, it's happened in the mobile app shops.
Steam has built up a reputation of quality and security (at least it has to me). I'd hate to not be able to trust the game I got would be finished and not be malicious.
On the other hand as an indie developer, I have always thought it would be impossible to get a game on Steam without "knowing someone who knows someone".
Interesting times, I'm going to err on the side of optimism here and choose to believe everything will work out fantastic for all involved.
Just my five cents.

Rachel Presser
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I have mixed feelings about this. While Greenlight is proving to be cumbersome for indies, there needs to be SOME curation to Steam to protect the values of the games within.

There were definitely problems with the old way of getting a game onto Steam and receiving what was often a vague non-answer for why your game didn't make the cut. Greenlight is better on paper than in practice for the most part and had some serious teething issues. While yes, we have to promote our games to get people to vote on them-- most indies don't have a dedicated marketing person to try and rally as many votes as humanly possible.

But if Greenlight gets axed, do all the indies who forked out $100 to get their games onto the now-defunct service get it back? (I know the proceeds went to charity, but Valve themselves are clearly not cash-poor. For those whose games get accepted, it can be an advance on the royalties.)
While it's unfair to everyone who submitted a game under the $100 rule, it's especially unfair to the devs who submitted completed, functional games that got buried by all these new submissions, many of which were incomplete and/or buggy. To rub salt in, many incomplete games got Greenlit as well, taking the space of completed and functional games that could've been making both the dev and Steam money.

So curation is needed to prevent broken games from being accepted, or worse yet, malware and shovelware from just appearing everywhere. Steam's content acceptance system is broken, but mobile-market-like anarchy isn't the solution either.

warren blyth
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I don't get this repeated fear of shovelware or malware.

the whole point of letting users create storefronts is: people with lots of time will sort through the shit, while people will less time will just track down useful storefronts.

No one is going put shovelware or malware on their storefront. (aside from some inevitable joke stores). if you screw up and let in some bad titles (or if you're exposed as a marketing plant), then you'll lose your followers: and that's fine because you shouldn't be running storefront.

Rachel Presser
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I think there's some flaws to the user-generated storefront idea, potential malware peddling notwithstanding. To echo Simon Ludgate's sentiment above, it's also becomes a question of who hosts the games, not just who's selling them-- if Steam doesn't actually host the games anymore, what's the stop the storefront you bought from from pulling the plug and making you lose your copy, or better yet losing copies of the games already purchased through Steam? People pick Steam because of convenience and security-- two features that could get axed with multiple storefronts and uncertain hosting.

Valve's successful but still doesn't have the capital or manpower of say, Amazon, to handle something like this. If they felt bombarded by how many Greenlight submissions came in when it first started, it was a drop in the bucket compared to the stuff that would get submitted under this proposed new system.

Bob Johnson
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What about charging people to vote on games in Greenlight. $1 a vote or something?

It would eliminate some of the thoughtless voting down of games. Encourage those to think twice before voting yes to something too.

Donate the money to charity...

Shea Rutsatz
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People are cheap. Yes, there would be better voting, but the requirement to be Greenlit would come down to like... 20 votes. But it would be good to require something to vote. A basic math test, perhaps?

Rachel Presser
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Or maybe some kind of incentive like Newgrounds had, like achievements and exclusive content?

People loved to vote on NG because you earned achievements. You got bronze, silver, and gold whistles for whistle-blowing inappropriate entries, and awards for how many Blams and Saves you committed. I remember when my vote happened to be the one that saved a Flash cartoon, and I got to see a cool Flash short made by the founders that they only showed to hardcore voters. Perhaps that's the direction Greenlight would need to go in if it doesn't start pushing up daisies. If there's already Steam Badges and in-game achievements...why not?

I haven't really hit NG in years so I don't know what system they used now or what kind of crowd it attracts but when I hit it frequently a decade or so ago, there was a vibrant community that really engaged in deciding if new submissions were saved or blammed. Just my 2% of a dollar.

warren blyth
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i think this idea would get really interesting if custom storefront maintainers could be given some small percentage of sales they generate. i'm dazzled by the idea that a sort of "marketing by the people for the people" might emerge.

It's also dazzling to think about tackling the huge problem of finding critics/reviewers that you trust. This has always been a frustrating failing of the internet (hard to find movie reviewers or games journalists who are both: good writers and share my tastes in entertainment).

instead of yahtzee, i prefer to wonder what a Giant Bomb store front would be (because I've spent so much time listening to each of their reviewers that I'd have inherent trust in their picks).

it might even open the door to a new way to look at video game reviews. instead of "what number did your gang give that game" it could become "how did your gang choose to feature that game on your steam store page?"

Paul Laroquod
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"Storefront maintainers could be given some small percentage of sales they generate."

"Huge problem of finding critics/reviewers that you trust."

These two goals are directly in conflict with each other.

Luciano Lombardi
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I think this is great news, and as counter intuitive this may feel, I believe it could help to solve the problem of discoverabilty.

IMDB user lists can serve as a good example of this: More than once I have followed the recommendation to see a specific movie by some random user because I loved most of the titles he had added to his 'best movies list'.
It is a relatively safe bet to think that you will like one of the movies that you have not seen from his list, for the mere fact of agreeing on the rest of the titles. The same could happen with games... people who make great reviews can directly link the games their recommend to buy, adding their analysis on why you should buy it. This could be very beneficial for websites like 'Rock Paper Shotgun'

On the other hand, I don't see why Valve couldn't create themselves one of these 'user-generated stores'. They would be opening the field, but they can also retain some of this 'curator value' at the same time, but without the pressure of being the bottleneck by which is decided what games are available for purchase.

Johan Wendin
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Why not "just" change the greenlighting process to reputable store owners then? Stores given Valve's stamp of approval get a say of what gets in? Like Old Man Murray, Rock Paper Shotgun or even lesser ones like cynicalbrit or MMOHut etc?

Basically extending the screening for greenlight out to reputable sources. Smaller niche games could have their own reputable source that they had to convince about the quality of their game.

Heck, the end-user could opt in/out of products screened by any specific sourcing partner.

Georgina Bensley
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Steam already *did* that pre-Greenlight. If RPS gave your indie title a decent review and you turned around and handed that to Valve as part of your application, that was basically your 'in'.

However, whenever you have a group of gatekeepers, you have games that don't catch their interest for reasons of taste rather than quality. Where are the niche games supposed to manufacture a reputable source from? :)

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Shea Rutsatz
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@Georgina

I can't help but think... if a game is so much in the "niche" category that no one even wants to glance at it, I have trouble believing it would have much success anyhow.

I know that there's a chance that a game considered "niche" might be an amazing new take to games, have some awesome new mechanic, etc... but there's a better chance that very few people would be interested. It's fun to root for the underdog, but sometimes they're the underdog for a reason!

Just my two cents :)

John Flush
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I really like Steam. I'll actually rebuy games from them because of how easy it is to see my library, get patches, track how long I play certain games, etc. However if any of these features break that ease of use - the ease of purchasing, which should be 'one click, download, play' I think it is the wrong path.

A good example of this breaking down is many of the Stardock games are on there now (Galactic Civilizations) that require me to do more work (registering with their site and such) to even play the game. That defeats the purpose of Steam for me. if I have account everywhere tracking my games, with separate logins, why bother with Steam at all?

Georgina Bensley
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Sadly there are already plenty of games on Steam that require separate accounts and logins to play after you purchase. It would be nice if these were marked more prominently.

Bart Stewart
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Curation has value when it gives you trustable information in not one but two crucial areas: level of quality and type(s) of content. Steam has been useful because it has done both of those things pretty well.

But most people will assess things on just one measure: did I like it? Having lots of people provide that kind of assessment only gives you a measure of popularity, which is not the same thing as quality, and which doesn't directly tell you anything about what kind of content lurks within.

So I don't think a simple upvote system is good enough to replace what Steam currently offers for discovering good games. I'd like to see a rating system in three parts:

1. Quality rating: bad, OK, or great. Still subjective, but better than an all-encompassing "I liked it."

2. Content type tags: free-text with pop-up suggestions of existing tags, similar to StackOverflow. Because this calls for a specific description, the more people who enter tags to describe a game, the more accurate the top-selected tags should be. (As a practical matter, you might require a tag to be selected for a game N times before it's displayed -- this would reduce "junk" tags entered by anonymous humorists.)

3. An optional "Favorite Game" checkbox, with a limit of 10 possible. This would be similar to a "like" button, but the limit would encourage raters to like the games that best satisfy their interests. The value of this would come from a "Suggest a Game" system -- your favorites would be compared to everyone else's, and games you haven't favorited that are liked by people who like most of the same things as you would be suggested.

No system is perfect. This one could be dinged as being "too complicated." But it would get Valve out from full-time curation on quality and content without devolving into a popularity contest.

Daniel Dobson
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I'm glad to see them admitting the issues with Greenlight, and talking with the community. It will be good if Steam itself isn't the only 'Steam Store' - I like the sound of Steam as a networking API, where consumers can choose which stores they actually go to. Seems highly democratic, and open :D

Felix Leyendecker
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What if opening the floodgates will simply cause a race to the bottom, and F2P emerging as the only viable business model? 2013's GOTY lists would have looked a lot different.


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