Over the past few years, PC gaming has seen a rise in number of players thanks to the gaming service Steam created by Valve. Valve is famous for their intuitive gameplay in titles such as Half-Life, Team Fortress, and Left 4 Dead. A few years ago, Valve decided to bypass the whole system of game distribution and created Steam. Now Valve are aiming at creating a service that would shrink the overall duties of gaming boards that vote on which games to publish.
This service is being called Greenlight, and it will go live on August 30 across Steam. Developers would publish screenshots, video trailers, and full descriptions of their game for the public to view before Steam publishes the game. Players in the Steam community would then vote on games to show their support of the title, and games with a higher number of votes will then be pushed through to an internal team at Valve for further consideration. The big question is, will this service be a good thing or a bad thing?
For starters, obviously Greenlight will be a boost to the Steam and PC community as titles that would not be otherwise considered now are shown to the public first before going up against a review board. Indie developers are the most likely to benefit from this new service as their games would be given more publicity along with a player review system to gauge community interest. How many titles are out there that could have possibly been huge success if they weren’t shut down before they were even out? This service eliminates that question all together.
Another good thing Greenlight would do is more or less a service for the Valve team. With the rise in indie games over the past few years, publishers like Valve have been bombarded by indie developers trying to get their game published in hopes of making it big in the gaming industry. With that in mind, the team at Valve have been swamped with games flowing in at an alarming rate. This would eventually weigh on employees and tax them physically and mentally. What does that have to do with gamers you ask? Well, if the team at Valve is weighed down by all these different titles, their judgement may begin to skew and they may inadvertently push through lower quality games. Have you ever worked all day then come home tired only to perform more work? Your effort and quality of work seem to dip down as the day goes on, and this is surely the case for the Valve team. With Greenlight, the community would wade through poorer quality titles and select the games for the team to choose, allowing the team to put every effort into those select titles, meaning better games overall.
However, for all things positive there is surely a negative aspect. One of the largest, and most scathing aspects of this whole process is the very thing that makes it so great. The fact that other players can vote on what makes the cut and what doesn’t. Yes, it is a good thing that the community has a say, but then again, do you really want 12-year-olds who have only played Call of Duty titles, voting on what they think is a good game? This is a scary thought to myself as I do not trust a 12-year-old with a sharp pencil nowadays, but now I will be trusting them with what they think is a good game. Of course, it is still possible to not buy the game, but if members of the community only think that these high budget, big name games are good and it is only these games that get pushed through, then what will happen to indie games and indie developers?
Secondly, and this is more or less a reminder, but just because the community votes highly for a game does not ultimately mean the game will be published. The team at Valve would still ultimately have the final say in such matters, so even if a game gets extraordinarily high player feedback, the team at Valve still might decide to not publish the game. With the above mentioned negative, this could be a good thing, or again, it could be a bad thing. This is more or less a moot point however, as part of the description of the service points to the fact that Steam still holds the power over what games are published and which will not. It does bear repeating though as some might gain the impression that the service gives the players full power over such matters.
I guess the ultimate question this service raises is, “Do you trust your fellow gamers to choose quality titles?” I for one am skeptical with the amount of people who think that highly polished games from Infinity Ward and the like are quality games. However, the number of people I see and hear talk about titles like Braid or Bioshock does lift my spirits and hopes, if just for a short while. Come August though, the question of quality versus quantity of sales will finally be answered for the video game world.