Valve Announces Steam Greenlight

Valve announced a new Steam feature called Greenlight today. Greenlight aims to allow Steam users to choose which games are released on the platform and which games are not.

In the past, Valve has relied on an internal team to decide which games should be put on Steam. However, every now and then the team would not be able to agree on a game, making the system a frustrating bottleneck that could potentially harm sales. To fix this problem, Greenlight will now directly involve Steam users in the decision on whether or not to sell specific games on the platform. Players will be able to access a new Steam page designed for Greenlight, where they will be able to browse all the entries available and give these games either a Thumbs Up or a Thumbs Down rating. The games that receive the highest ratings relative to the other entries will be considered for sale on Steam.

Developers will also be allowed to include early concepts on Greenlight in order to gather feedback from players on the popularity of that concept. These games will be marked specially as concept builds and will be used purely to evaluate the popularity of an unfinished title and generate a buzz.

Valve intends to add the Greenlight system to Steam at the end of August.

Analysis: What strikes me about Greenlight is that it makes me wonder about the amount of games sitting in the gray area between sellable and non-sellable because Valve essentially has two reasons to include a Greenlight system. The first, which seems very unlikely, is that Valve feels out of touch with consumer wants and therefore doesn’t feel comfortable making the calls on which games to sell. The second and much more likely reason is that Valve is running into a quantity of games that the internal jury just can’t decide on, and they want community feedback.

So how many games are there that Valve can’t decide on, and what exactly is holding them back from adding these games? Are they deficient in some significant way, and that’s why Valve had trouble with them? If Greenlight turns out to be very accepting, will the stores be awash with below-par games that wouldn’t have passed the internal testing team; or, if Greenlight turns out to be very negative, will quality games that would’ve been accepted otherwise be turned away? What about really niche titles that really excite a small proportion of players? Will they not get accepted for inclusion? Games like Farm Simulator 2011 don’t generate a buzz, but at the same time, there is a demographic out there that will play and enjoy that game.

In other words, I’m left with a lot of questions about Greenlight. Valve generally knows what they’re doing, certainly, so I don’t feel too worried. I just hope that future alerts from Valve regarding Greenlight will include some more clarification on how the system works.

Connor Horn

About Connor Horn

Connor is a laid-back long-haired California hipster who listens to music "you'll never find on the radio" and who voted for Ron Paul to "make a difference." His favorite kind of games are MOBAs and rogue-likes, and he is a huge fan of PC gaming and the future of digital distribution.