38 Studios was a gaming story for the mainstream audience and Kickstarter was the industry insider's dream, Steam Greenlight was the event for the rest of us. At least, that's how Valve presented it, as a fresh, innovative way to directly involve players in the selection of games, crowd-sourced style. In execution, however, it ran into a few problems.
Any service launch has its issues, and online the audience is privy to every blemish and backtrack, including Steam Greenlight's. Greenlight lasted five days in its initial form, allowing anyone at any time to submit a game for crowd consideration, regardless of its validity or morality. Following a slew of Half-Life 3 scams and other games in ill taste, Valve initiated a $100 entrance fee for the program. Today Greenlight has a free Concepts option, hosts non-gaming software and has accepted 32 games, 12 of which have launched on Steam. There are plenty more to come, Valve promises.
With a new system comes new problems – or, at least, a period of adjustment – and Greenlight saw a fair share of frustrations and unexpected legal issues from indie developers during its infancy in 2012.
- When indie developer Colin Northway expressed his annoyance with Greenlight on Twitter, he noted the main issues in transitioning from a professional game-selection process to a chaotic, public one. And then he told us his story.
- Faceless attempted to use the popular Slender Man lore, and despite being on top of the voting pile since Greenlight's launch, it's yet to do so because of legal issues.
- As more indie developers attempt to break onto Steam via Greenlight, it can alter the way they pitch their games and how they think about production.