Steam, Valve Corp’s digital game distribution platform for PC, has a downright massive library of games which users can purchase (5,715 at the time this article was written). While Valve has already outdone themselves by scouting out so many great games, they have recently instituted a new method for finding the cream of the gaming crop.
Enter Greenlight, a democratic process of elimination which allows Steam users to vote for which games deserve to be sold through Steam. Popular games which have found a following become permanent fixtures on the Steam storefront, while the unworthy ones are filtered out through general lack of interest.
It is mere coincidence that Valve designed their own approval process with the U.S. Presidential elections just on the horizon, though both institutions are based in a similar concept: The candidate which appeals to the majority is the one chosen to do the job.
Greenlight has given indie developers the power to get their work published in a big way through exposure on Steam, where before, they would have to grab the attention of Valve. Now they only have to grab the attention of a significant number of users. This allows games with more niche appeal, as well as games from relatively unknown sources to make their way into the spotlight.
The program began with sort of a rocky start. As one might imagine, a platform which allowed literally anyone with a game idea to pitch their plan to a large audience appealed greatly to jokesters and trolls. Many fake joke games were submitted to Greenlight in its early stages, and Valve responded by requiring that developers pay a $100 fee to list their games on the system.
100% of the fees collected are donated to the Child’s Play charity organization. While some might argue that the fee is still a bar which blocks certain developers from participating, the change has worked wonders towards diluting the humorous but bogus submissions.
Twenty new games have been added to Steam based on the user response they have received on Greenlight, and many more will surely be discovered in a similar fashion in the near future. Greenlight is a powerful tool which makes game development as a profession just a little bit more accessible to developers who may have never been given a chance otherwise.