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Main Points from Valve's Greenlight Developer Chat 5-7-13
by Enrique Dryere on 05/07/13 05:09:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Valve hosted a developer chat today, which brought a whirlwind of ideas and discussion. Here are some of the biggest points that were covered throughout the 1 hour chat in condensed form. This information was compiled from both developers and Valve employees:

On the topic of whether developers could gain access to the Steamworks API prior to being greenlit:

This seems to be one of the focuses for Steam and Greenlight as it moves forward. Although there is "no timeframe yet," TomB [Valve] has stated they are actively looking into it. He reiterated that Gabe Newell has talked about moving towards an open platform.

Although developers may be able to use Steamworks, whether or not their games will only show up in Greenlight, through searches, or on the main page is still not decided. Alden [Valve] said "There's a lot of unknowns and a bunch of work to get there, so we'll see the systems evolve over time as we iterate and make progress in that direction."

On the topic of Greenlighting more games:

According to TomB [Valve] the limited amount of games going through the process now is due to "limited resources." Chet [Valve] stated that their new strategy of greenlighting titles in smaller, yet more often batches should actually increase the amount of titles being greenlit.

This appears to be one of Valve's greatest concerns. Alden [Valve] acknowledge that it is important and stated that they have "a bunch of people working on it." However, you have to deduce that increasing the flow within the current system is only a temporary solution. The more permanent solution seems to be changing the system into an open API as discussed above.

On the topic of adding a demo button to Greenlight rather than relying on copy-paste links:

TomB [Valve] says "they are working on it," but expressed concern with the possibility of malicious exploitation of this system. This prospect is likely what has delayed the inclusion of a direct link and is of particular concern with concept pages.

On the topic of creating a separation between "In-development" and "Complete"

TomB  [Valve] said they will "discuss [this] internally and see what [they] can do."

On the topic of dwindling traffic on Greenlight:

TomB[Valve] stated that there's been "roughly 2 million voters" to participate in Greenlight since its launch. Apart from the initial spike during launch, there has been no tapering in the numbers. However, several developers reported being "stuck" around 20,000 views, typically with around 6,000-7,000 "Yes" votes, which seems to be the natural number you'll achieve with minimal external influence. In other words, this is the amount of active Greenlight participants that typically go through their full queue of games.

On the topic of reposting your project if you are unsatisfied with initial numbers:

As discussed earlier, you can only expect a certain amount of people to browse to your project naturally on Greenlight. If you launched your page prematurely and feel you may've missed out on potential votes, Alden [Valve] stated that you can "absolutely repost if you want to."

However, he warned that you may miss out on any fans that have "already favorited and followed you item." He suggested that " you can leave your existing page up for a while and post an announcement to your existing fans and ask that they vote for you again on your new page."

On the topic of how the actual decision to Greenlight a game is made:

This was asked many different ways, and the answers were always similar and vague. According to Alden [Valve] there are no "hard and fast rules." They try to compile as much data as they can to make "informed decisions." TomB [Valve] stated that they do consider a game's "success on other platforms" when making their decision. Alden [Valve] said they also take into account "critical success."

Tomb [Valve] stated that they do look at games that have already been passed up in previous publishing batches to see if "they've gained more votes or there's more data to make them 'stand out.'" If a game is not picked even though it is high on the list, it "doesn't mean that [they] will never pick" it for greenlighting.

There is currently no easy way to communicate directly to Valve through your project page that isn't also visible to the general audience. This was brought up and suggested, but there was insufficient time to properly address the issue.

The Early Access program has allowed Valve to "look at games that aren't 'finished' now, but think would be successful on Steam," according to TomB [Valve].

To read a full recap of all the questions asked and answers given go here:

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/greenlightbeta/discussions/0/828938354931589532/

Follow me on Twitter for more updates: @ECDryere

Some of the prevalent ideas and suggestions:

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/greenlightbeta/discussions/0/828938354931589532/

http://indiegames.com/2013/05/fixing_steam_greenlight_one_in.html

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=56970390&postcount=400


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Comments


Wolf Wozniak
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Pretty F$#%^ annoyed that, even though I have a game on greenlight, I wasn't invited. AND that the group is private. Shows how much they wanted to get people involved — in that they didn't really.

Wolf Wozniak
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I'm furious.

E McNeill
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You didn't get an email from Valve notifying you about the chat?

Wolf Wozniak
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Hahaha!
Nope! Why would I get email from Valve? They are too busy counting their money.

Aaron San Filippo
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We got an email from Valve, though only the person who setup the Greenlight page (not other contributors.) Maybe check your spam folder.

Don't be too upset about it though - it was pretty nuts, and they only had a chance to answer maybe half of the questions.

Wolf Wozniak
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Just because they "don't have time" doesn't make it ok. They are a multi billion dollar international corporation. No excuses.

Mike Kasprzak
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There was a note at the bottom of the e-mail, send them a link to your Greenlight page and they'd send you an invite. I got one 2 minutes later.

Ivo Goncalves
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Damn, you are one hell of a spokesperson. Were I part of Valve I sure wouldn't like to deal with you. The fact you aren't even aware that you need to join an optional group if you want to have an active participation in the Greenlight service (which everyone else does), while dishing out insults instead of being reasonable and taking steps to prevent it from happening in the future speaks volumes of your professionalism.

Tomasz Tomaszewski
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Hey guys,

Just posted a cleaned up chat transcript along with a brief meeting recap:
https://crunchingkoalas.com/improving_steam_greenlight_aka_complete_waste_of_time/

May it serve you well.

Cheers,
Tom

Arvind Yadav
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Thanks for the summary! It was a very....disorganized meeting, I could barely keep up with the chat. ~150 devs with no moderation wasn't a good idea at all, imho.

I presented a a few suggestions to Valve which were fairly popular, that I have reposted here for the people who cannot access the private Steam GL group: http://wp.me/pQ8bB-pO

Kris Graft
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Whoa, thanks all of you for your reports!

J Brian Smith
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It's almost like they are a company that employs only around 300 people and has no managers. :)
What Indy devs are getting from Valve is simultaneously more and less than they would get from a behemoth platform holder like Sony or Microsoft. Not sure everyone's expectations are reasonable.

Joe McGinn
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Comparing them to Apple/Google would be more apt, since indies are more or less dead on consoles anyway. And what they get from Apple/Google is huge: the platform holder is just that, a platform, they get the hell out of the way and let developers make and publish whatever games they want to.

J Brian Smith
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I don't think we want Steam to be more like the apple and google stores. A lot more devs are having commercial success on Steam than in the app stores.

Erin OConnor
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As of 2012 they had 293 employees.

The Valve hierarchy can be viewed as 1 of 2 ways.
They have 0 managers.
They have 293 managers.

Joe McGinn
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Greenlight is the worst idea/system that has ever come out of Valve. Developers don't need content curators, which really always inevitably just end up being content censors, and enemies of innovation.

The most innovative game platform in the world right now, ironically, is the most casual: mobile. Precisely because no one is telling developers what kind of games they want to make.

Valve needs to open their eyes to what a disaster this system really is.

Alex Nichiporchik
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Yes, let's have a new list filled with 5000 endless runners. Let's do that!

Andrew Traviss
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The internet itself is already an uncurated distribution system for PCs. There's no reason for anybody to create one on top of it.

Joe McGinn
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"The internet itself is already an uncurated distribution system for PCs. There's no reason for anybody to create one on top of it."

Nonsense. PC indie developers need steam for any kind of serious distribution, same as mobile developers need iOS and Google Play. Yes some niche PC developers scrape by ... but there is no practical way for them to access a world-wide market. Valve (and Apple and Google) have done the hard work of setting up payment systems for the whole world. There is no practical way for an indie to do that themselves.

Fredrik Liliegren
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Steam is currently so attractive to all developers because getting on there is very selective and that makes you have a bigger chance of success, opening the platform to anyone will take away that and just make steam essentially a link portal to all the games that are already available everywhere else on PC websites all over.

I think curation does serve a purpose here.

Benjamin Quintero
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It sounds like not a lot has changed in spite of Greenlight, and there is a lot that they are "working on". It seems like the only only real way to get onto Steam is not through Greenlight at all but by becoming successful without Steam and then get the golden ticket. Success begets more success, and the cycle continues.

Jane Castle
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If your game truly is good then it should be able to achieve success WITHOUT the help of Steam. Many indies seem to think that the reason they are not successful is because they are not on Steam, when in reality the reason is that their game just isn't very good....

Benjamin Quintero
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That is an adorable sentiment... If only all of the complexities of a curated iron curtain could be summed up by "make better games".

Jane Castle
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And of course you believe without a shadow of a doubt that your game should be on Steam....

Benjamin Quintero
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Did I say that? As frustrating as it may be sometimes I don't mind curation. Just Greenlight is not helping to streamline the curation process. And becoming a sure bet outside of Greenlight has always been the express pass to Steam. The fact is that you dont know if your game is not on Steam because it hasnt gotten the votes or made enough sales outside of Steam. Those are different. Read around. Mutant mudds, slender man, etc... Plenty of devs who sat in #1 in the votes and got passed up. So what is the relevance of voting if the end is just the same old veto process?

Dave Wishnowski
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I believe the best solution is open the platform but keep the Steam storefront curated. I don't think it's reasonable to expect Valve to open the store wide open. Hell, even of they mildly curated the entire Greenlight section to weed out the Half Life 3's, give access to Steamworks API, and still heavily curate only the most popular Greenlight games to the main Steam store I think we'd all be reasonably happy.

I'm happy to have the opportunity to fight for a opportunity via Greenlight. But damn it would make things a little easier if we could get our hands on the Steamworks API ahead of time.

Joe McGinn
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Good point Dave. As I said above, the really hard thing for an indie to setup is all the payment options around the world. It's a nightmare. Having the platform open would solve that.

Abel Bascunana Pons
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Our not-yet-finished CRPG was one of those hurted for being released on Greenlight prematurely, that was our fault, and we have the average of 7500 Yes votes.
Launching a new Greenlight and losing all your Yes votes doesn't seem a good thing... shouldn't there be a way to transfer all those votes if you relaunch again?


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