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Steam Greenlight voters still favor horror, hype
Steam Greenlight voters still favor horror, hype
October 15, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

Twenty-one more independent games will be distributed on Valve's Steam distribution service thanks to fan feedback through its Steam Greenlight initiative.

There are few surprises in the list of newly-approved games. Players utilizing the semi-democratic voting system continue to favor titles in the popular first-person shooting genre, as well as Minecraft-like "voxel sandbox" games, MMOs, games with retro-inspired pixel aesthetics, and titles that categorize themselves as "survival horror".

What you won't see, however, are games that are readily available. Of the thirty total games that have been "greenlit" to date, only one -- Sos Sosowski's point-and-click adventure McPixel -- is complete and purchasable.

In fact, Valve says that the often far-off ship dates of games that were up-voted by the community was a factor in increasing its approval list from ten to twenty titles this time around.

As with the initial round of approved games, it would appear that having an established fan base -- even without necessarily having a game for them to play -- is crucial for getting noticed on Greenlight, as the majority of its games continue to be those that have generated some amount of hype prior to being put to the vote.

The full list of twenty-one games approved for Steam today via Greenlight is as follows:

Afterfall InSanity Extended Edition
Folk Tale
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Project Giana)
Interstellar Marines
Lost Story: The Last Days of Earth
Miner Wars 2081
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Secrets of Grindea
The Intruder
The Stanley Parable: HD Remix

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Matt Robb
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Um, it's a voting system. Doesn't that basically require it to favor hype?

John Polson
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"established fan base" is interesting to dissect. I looked up some of the new picks on Twitter, and several games/companies have under 100 followers (and similarly small Facebook "likes"). I have nothing against Twitter or FB, but I find it interesting that in a day of so much social media hype these games get the popular vote on Steam but are not so popular otherwise.

I guess this reaffirms to Valve that they are their own social media machine. How devs go about establishing a fan base, if not on Twitter on Facebook or by using one of these gaming tropes that keeps getting voted, would be worth exploring then, perhaps? I feel like indies are told FB and Twitter outreach is vital to their growth, but it seems unnecessary to get Greenlit, which in their world, is the holy grail.

Aaron San Filippo
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Interesting observation! I do wonder how exactly these votes are being driven. Maybe they're just better at reaching out through other means?

Sean Hogan
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Anyone have insight to what Aaron is asking? It's something I'm also curious of...I feel like I've been pulling out all the stops w.r.t. getting the game noticed and the only thing that could go a step further is actually releasing the game.

Eric Geer
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My guess would be that lots of Steam users aren't generally twitter/facebook users. They have their own community that they pay attention to. I don't think that we should assume that just because they are on the internet, and know things are going on, that they would likewise be connected and active on two social networks that likely are viewed down upon by "core" gamers.

Maria Jayne
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I've been voting regularly on steam greenlight recently, I'm surprised how many games aren't even ready to go on steam, yet they have a marketing pitch anyway. That seems wrong to me, like they are being voted for without any real evidence of quality.

I was also a little bothered by the amount of iphone/android games being ported over with apparent minimum effort.

I worry this sort of system is pandering to what players hope for rather than what is actually produced, if that turns out to be the case, the quality of games on steam will decline.

Matt Robb
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In a weird sort of way, the resulting quality might just train the voters over time to spot the poo. Even these Greenlit games have to be finished before they can be sold, so people might start noticing things on these projects that point towards games that will never be finished or will be low quality.

Either Greenlight will be self-correcting or it will stop being used at some point. We'll see.

Kenneth Blaney
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The title, I think, is not surprising. Fear is a fairly easy emotion to tap into on a low budget... in fact, the history of film would suggest that the low budget helps. That is, the less you see of a monster the scarier it is. In earlier horror films the low special effect budget required directors to work in such a way that didn't reveal the obvious 'fakeness' of a monster. The answer was to simply show less of the monster and more of the human reactions to the monster.

That trend is alive and well today in video games. Consider two well known horror games that are known for being scary (not action or whatever): "Slender" and "Amnesia". Both games are centered almost exclusively around not knowing whether or not you are in danger at any given moment. In both cases, the major monsters are mostly hidden from view and you are generally spending your time running away from them. When you really spend time to look at the 3d models, however, all of the horror drains away (The Slender Man is actually a pretty silly model if you look at a still).

To that end, since deciding to vote is based on ability to draw an instant emotional reaction, and fear is readily tappable by low budget teams, horror games are supported by Greenlight.

Justin Sawchuk
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Yeah at least its not more inidie platformers I could do without ever playing one of those again.