Greenlight is dead, long live greenlight! (English Only post)

Sat 10 June 2017 | in Misc

As many of you know, Steam Greenlight is on its way out, let's analyze my point of view on this matter

Greetings everybody,

As many of you know, these days Valve is working hard on phasing out the system that we all have known as Steam Greenlight, a community-based voting system that allowed game developers to present their games to a huge public and eventually get them sold for a 100$ one-time fee.

A system that we all loved, or hated. Or Both.

Sadly, as all systems that require or allow uncontrolled public intervention and decision, exploits are bound to happen, and that's what happened with our beloved Greenlight. Some time after the launch, some shady people saw an easy-ish way to get money out of making videogames, and (again) sadly looked for all the easiest ways to spend the least amount of time possible coding/working on the project and just push out as many videogames as possible for a one-time 100$ fee.

This is how (in very few words) the marketplace has been literally littered with what today we know as "asset flips", which means buying some premade assets from online stores (like the Unity asset store), putting them together and selling the final product.

Are asset stores bad? Never said so, asset stores are meant to be a cost-effective way to give some developers a basis for their projects upon where they get to build their own ideas.

But some people thought that taking a pre-made game structure (See UnitZ on Unity Asset Store) and re-selling it as it is was a nice idea for making a quick buck.

This is asset flip in a few words for you.

Then there is the developer community, and I don't like bashing my own category, but sometimes a spank is needed by a colleague (if I'm allowed to consider myself as such).

Sadly many developers are really deaf to suggestions, thinking they know better, or even worse, banning whoever has the nerve to call them out on something (like asset flipping). This toxicity in the community didn't bring anything good to the storefront. Digital Homicide, anybody remember?

Don't get me wrong, I've done that myself, out of pride for my own project, or sheer frustration over something I can't control that could hinder or potentially kill my project, but I'm working hard on changing my behaviour towards critics and take in the fact that I should put my pride aside and listen to who will have to deal with the product I'm making.

The final user, the customer, but most of all the player are not a body with a dollar (or Euro in my case) sign in place of their face, they're real people, who probably care about a project as much as the developer does him/herself. If a user has a suggestion, it's probably something well thought.

Players are as much of customer as they are a resource, and they should be treated respectfully as such. Besides one case that I'm going to talk about now.

Trolls.

Trolls, trolls, trolls. People who find it funny and satisfying to ruin other people's day by making nasty comments, finding a way to make people's life miserable and other despicable things.

It is not just the small commenter that leaves an offensive/frustrating comment under your project, the trolls sadly are inside the developer side of Steam too.

Greenlight used to have two sections:

  • The official Greenlight: where you can put your project up for voting and having a chance to get on the storefront
  • The Draft Section: where, for free, you can "feel the ground", and see the reaction of the community to your project

The free Drafts section was littered with Meme-filled, troll projects that took away visibility to many better-deserving drafts that couldn't even gather enough data to see if it was worth going on coding.

I myself had a project in the Draft section, and got about 30 votes in total, in over 1 year, with a ratio of about 75% yes and 25% no. Obviously my perfectionism told me to stop coding because one out of 4 people wouldn't like the project, but a sample of 30 people is way too little to get any final judgement.

It's pretty bitter when your project gets ignored, but it's even worse when you know the project is ignored in big part because people can't see it, under the pile of, let me say that please, meme-filled garbage.

As a small side note, many of the products that came from Greenlight were plagued by repetition, and stealing ideas from one another. Try to look hard and you'll notice that there are tens of project that are based (or literally rip off) the concept of games that had success, like Five Nights At Freddy's or Slender.

Then there's the voting system, a simple yes/no question: "Would you buy this game if it was on the Steam Storefront?". Simple in theory, hard in practice. Many people seemed to vote "yes" out of sheer curiosity of what the product would be, many times bringing just another ripoff.

This ties directly to another matter that I would take away from Steam almost immediately: Early Access.

It's true, not everybody can afford a beta testing team, but at the same time selling a product as "early access" most of the time is going to prove just another ripoff for the player's pockets, as the product won't ever get updates and will never ever ever come out of the "early access status".

Don't get me wrong, there are awesome early access games, like CrossCode (Just look at the trailer) or Crypt Of The Necrodancer Amplified DLC, an awesome DLC for an awesome game. But sadly these seem to be the exceptions to the rule.

Greenlight brought to us not only bad things, but also some awesome games that would have never made it to players through normal means, without a publisher that would have taken great amounts of money from the developers.

Was Steam Greenlight all bad in the end? No, not at all. It needed some serious revision though, and now with Steam Direct, we might be on the right path, but it's too early to say anything. As we say here in Italy (rough translation):

Make the law and you've found the loophole.

It's almost sure that someone will find a way to get around the new system and sell their items just like before. And if Steam Direct will manage to put a cork on all the issues that Greenlight had, people that want to rip off other people will probably just move to other platforms, like Itch.io.

As a closing note, I would like to thank all the people that supported my project through Greenlight, and even the ones that didn't, since your amazing words kept and still keep me going, and the criticism pushes me to not only do better, but to take my time to do the best possible. All your comments have been saved in my Big PC and kept close as a treasure.

Again, thank you for reading this post, have a great day.

Penaz.

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