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Steam Greenlight and What It Means for Developers
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The Internet is alive with the sound of Greenlight… In case you haven’t heard, Valve has stirred up the indie developer community pretty significantly yesterday with the announcement of Steam Greenlight; “a new system that enlists the community’s help in picking some of the next games to be released on Steam.” In other words, a type of “crowdsourcing” tool to choose which games get approved for distribution. Similar to the financial crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter, titles that achieve a certain amount of “points” are approved for release on Steam. You’ll notice there are many quotations, which is a result of the relatively early announcement of Greenlight. We’re sure there are many details to iron out, but the general concept is pretty exciting.

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The points system on Steam Greenlight. Hey – it fits with our color scheme too! Source: Valve

What is Greenlight?

Valve describes it as “a solution to an intractable problem“. Indeed, they’re probably right. With the success of Steam as a premiere digital distribution platform and with an open submission platform, Valve’s teams are surely flooded with game pitches. As the platform grows, more and more releases are happening and more and more developers want onto it.

In preparing a business plan for Windforge, we discovered that a key ingredient in getting Valve excited about your game (other than having an awesome game, of course), is to show that the community wants to play it and better yet; buy it. For us, the announcement of Steam Greenlight is great news – because it is directly aligned with our marketing and distribution plans for Windforge. Greenlight is essentially taking a lot of what we have been doing, and bringing it directly to a first-party platform connected to Steam and its community. That should just make everything more efficient right? Everything will be a happy wonderland! Well, not everyone may share that view.

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This might be what we’re aiming for… Credit: Valve

An evolution of indie teams?

Some indies are afraid that they’ll get overshadowed by teams with giant marketing budgets to help drive their projects up the charts – something we can probably expect the “big guys” to do. In our case, it just so happens that we want to be sharing our progress and being more organic than the traditional Blockbuster/AAA game marketing model. As a studio, we really enjoy sharing our progress, our ups and downs and everything having to do with Windforge. It’s a new type of approach, contrary to the “keep everything secret until just before launch” strategy. In the end, we really believe it’s going to help make a better game and enhance the relationship we have with our audience.

Steam Greenlight is seemingly going to influence the progression towards that type of development. This means indie teams are going to have to focus a lot more on pull marketing (“What do you want to play?”) rather than pushing (“Here’s what we have, play it!”). Does this mean small indie teams will be able to directly compete with the AAA games of the world? Probably not, but it does mean that they are going to have to focus more on making games that people genuinely want to play. As other forms of pull-based products have sometimes shown, it’s a positive evolution and will result in more enjoyable gaming experiences for everyone.

All of this being said, we look forward to announcing our spot on Steam Greenlight when it goes live in late August!

What do you think about Steam Greenlight? Is it an evolution in indie development or is it going to hurt smaller teams? Let us know in the comments below!