Second post of the day, while we are at it I want to voice my thoughts on Steam Greenlight. I think the basic idea is good, but it is far from where it should be right now.
For example this is currently the most popular, or one of the most popular games on Steam Greenlight. With all do respect, but I don’t see how that will make it into a finished game. On the other hand there are games out there with development budgets of hundreds of thousands if not millions that do not get much attention because they are flushed away by the sheer volume of games added all the time, many of them tiny productions or just plain ideas. A day in I already do not know where to begin looking at the games. And the more fluff there will be on Steam Greenlight, the more the average viewers will step out, and the more the system will be controlled by a small hardcore crowd with too much time on their hands I believe.
This game for example was posted on about the same time as the aforementioned game, looks like a much more complete and functional game, yet has almost no votes whatsoever. And how about this game. Been posted fairly recently, but has much higher budget and production values.
There are also plenty of trolling attempts coming by. I saw Battlefield 3 floating by in Russian earlier today, and a game with pictures of Anders Breivik.
All too often with things like these it are not the good products that make it, it are the “dreams” that get popular. Sell an idea that makes people dream, say for example Building a Colony on Mars or Oyua and you will get yourself plenty of attention. Dreams aren’t playable though. Games are. It should always be about products, not about dreams. It does not matter how awesome an idea is, if it does not make it into a finished and sustainable product it is utterly irrelevant.
I would love to see the entire system more business focused and not gamer focused. I would try to keep the average viewer returning to Steam Greenlight as much as possible to reduce the risk of getting the entire system run by a small group of users, and I would do that through:
Reduce the amount of fluff as much as possible. The clutter will destroy the system and scare average viewers away.
Run continuous incentives to draw average viewers into Greenlight throughout the year, so the user pool does not stagnate.
Make it prestigious for companies to post their games on Greenlight. A professional environment with quality games and pitches, even if some of the concepts would turn out to be unpopular or unfitting for Steam, they’d still be presented in a professional way. Make it feel as little as a high school social networking place as possible.
No thumbs down. Have a positive atmosphere and reduce the amount of trolling to the maximum.
Require a playable demo before being allowed to post your game, or a gameplay video at the least. If you cannot get a working prototype done, you will not be able to ever make a game either.
Require, and this is an absolute must for me, people to first register as a Greenlight developer before being allowed to post games, and restrict the registration only to proper businesses, meaning those with a registered company. That can still be one guy on his own making indie games, but with a properly registered business. That is something you would need anyway, as you wouldn’t be able to sell games anyway without it. And that would immediately remove all minors, and all people who aren’t serious.
The irony of the whole indie revolution is that so many people got into it, that in order for the whole thing to continue to work it will fall back into almost exactly the situation we came from about five years ago. In order to stand out, get attention, and make it through all the gatekeepers like Steam or the console developers, you will soon need (and often already need this kind) a publisher who can open the doors for you that you need opened. I know plenty of developers who approach traditional publishers just for the sake of getting a spot on Steam or XBLA, because they cannot manage on their own. I don’t immediately have a solution for that either. There are just way too many games out there.