While Valve’s Steam platform allows consumers to purchase and enjoy digitally distributed content with ease, publishers and developers have been sharing a drastically different experience. Steam’s mysterious and archaic submission process has been particularly vexing for indie developers hoping to distribute their titles through the popular storefront.
It’s an issue that once again gained the spotlight in June, when popular 3DS eShop title Mutant Mudds was denied a release through the platform. (Destructoid)
Yesterday, Steam announced their new ‘Greenlight’ system which will use community input and feedback to help determine which titles will be granted Steam releases. While specifics were scarce, the announcement stated that developers and publishers will be able to post “information and media” pertaining to their titles which can then be commented on by users through integration with Steam’s existing feedback tools.
By generating community buzz, developers will have another chance to catch the attention of The Powers That Be, who may then consider the title for release. The system should cut down on the egg-in-face rebukes by fans of popular games like Mutant Mudds, but what does it mean for the developers themselves?
Of course, to win a popularity contest one has to be popular. Games that have already found success through some other form of distribution or prior sales will still have the edge. As-yet released indie titles will still face an uphill battle to stand out above these established games.
The official announcement avoids mentioning indie titles specifically, doesn’t address requirements to get into the program itself, and also avoids stating that community response will directly decide on whether or not a title gets published.
Quotes from Vavle’s Anna Sweet strongly suggest the system may not be much different than the current standards in place, though the lack of transparency in the existing process makes it difficult to tell what those standards are.
In the end, Steam isn’t putting much on the line by giving users the opportunity to tell them what games they’d be most excited to purchase. That is not a criticism of Steam, Greenlight, or the publishing process. However, it does serve to keep the announcement in perspective.
Greenlight may add a layer of interactivity and give fans a chance to share their voice, but the overall effect on developers and publishers may not be so grand.
The system is scheduled to go live on August 30th.Posted in Game News by Steve R Gibson on July 10, 2012