Indie Devs Aren't Happy With Steam Greenlight

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Indie Devs Aren't Happy With Steam Greenlight

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"Poor visibility" is the biggest complaint some developers have with Valve's community based-selection indie game selection tool.

Steam Greenlight is a kind of community-based selection tool for indie games on Valve's Steam platform. Developers pay an initial fee, submit their game to the service, and Steam users can vote for games they think warrant a Steam release. Despite Steam constantly touching-up the service, recently branching out to allow concepts as well as already-in-development games, some indie devs claim that it's simply not enough.

"Many people I know don't visit Greenlight pages because they forget it exists," wrote a representative from indie developer Intravenous Software in an online conference hosted by Valve. Valve's Tom Bui responded by saying that Greenlight has attracted roughly two million voters since its inception. "I understand that but it's not enough. You have millions of members and maybe 15k regular Greenlight viewers. Something is wrong," countered the developer.

The developer clarified by saying that votes and visitors are very different, and that most games on Greenlight will have a splurge of around 15k initial viewers, which will then rapidly drop off. "That tells me you have 15k people who come look at Greenlight on a weekly basis, and about 5k who check it once a month. Considering you have millions of members, don't you think those numbers are very low? Only games that get media attention get any more visitors than that." Developer Space Bullet also chimed in, suggesting that there have been sharp declines in traffic since Greenlight's launch.

Valve also disagreed with this. "Traffic in Greenlight has actually been pretty steady since after the big spike at launch," replied Valve's Alden Kroll.

Gabe "Austrian Santa Claus" Newell has stated previously that he plans to eventually do away with Greenlight entirely, and offer an even more community-based alternative. "But there's a lot of unknowns and a bunch of work between here and there. Steam and Greenlight will evolve over time as we iterate and improve the system with your input," said Kroll.

In the meantime, indie developers can look forward to the Steam API being made available to them before their project actually gets approval. "This is something we are actively looking into," said Bui, who wasn't able to give a solid time frame for the feature's implementation.

Source: Develop Online

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I kinda agree. Greenlight is good on paper but the finished product is... well... it just isn't good. It can't even get Mutant Mudds on there.

I had thought that games were approved based on the number of yes votes received compared to other greenlight games. What does a low percentage of steam users in general visiting the thing have to do with anything? If 15k visit and you're 20th on the list of votes received it's the same as if three million were to visit and you're 20th on the list.
That being said, it isn't very easy to find things I might be interested in on greenlight. I generally go to greenlight to vote for a game only after seeing it mentioned in 'Worth Reading' or elsewhere on the internets.

hmmm. Hate it when you lie and tell me that didn't post the first time. Why all the lies, Mr. LiePants?

SecondPrize:
I had thought that games were approved based on the number of yes votes received compared to other greenlight games.

That appears to be the basic idea. But the whole process is surrounded by a real fog of mystery. A lot of games seem to get through on the mysterious quality of "getting traction".

It would be nice to be able to see where a particular game is currently sitting on the list, or at least some indication of how they're doing. I think the developers can see what their current ranking is (because some of them post updates with it).

That's a very weird complain for developers to have. Do they expect Steam to actively promote greenlight more than what they already do? I don't think Steam users would like a more aggressive attempt to draw attention to it. Greenlight costs just 100$ to get in, do they really want more free publicity out of it? Also, game that get media attention are always going to have more votes than anonymous games, because that's just the way it is. I don't live to promote games, and I assume nobody does, so expecting millions of people to just fire greenlight on a regular basis is probably asking too much, at least for what greenlight is right now.

MetalMagpie:

SecondPrize:
I had thought that games were approved based on the number of yes votes received compared to other greenlight games.

That appears to be the basic idea. But the whole process is surrounded by a real fog of mystery. A lot of games seem to get through on the mysterious quality of "getting traction".

It would be nice to be able to see where a particular game is currently sitting on the list, or at least some indication of how they're doing. I think the developers can see what their current ranking is (because some of them post updates with it).

They have a little meter that fills up for various tiers of preorders for tiered bonuses, like they did with Xcom and the like.

Shouldnt be too hard to adapt that to put on the page so if someone click yay it fills up a bit, then if the game fills its meter they get published.

mdqp:
That's a very weird complain for developers to have. Do they expect Steam to actively promote greenlight more than what they already do? I don't think Steam users would like a more aggressive attempt to draw attention to it. Greenlight costs just 100$ to get in, do they really want more free publicity out of it? Also, game that get media attention are always going to have more votes than anonymous games, because that's just the way it is. I don't live to promote games, and I assume nobody does, so expecting millions of people to just fire greenlight on a regular basis is probably asking too much, at least for what greenlight is right now.

Honestly, I forget it exists too until I go over a games kickstarter page and they go "Vote for us on steam greenlight!"

They could make it more visible without pushing it on people, for example if they remove it from the Community sub menu and stick it next to the store button along the top bar.

They did the same thing for Big Picture mode, wouldn't be too intrusive to put an icon on the main bar for it.

Desert Punk:

Honestly, I forget it exists too until I go over a games kickstarter page and they go "Vote for us on steam greenlight!"

This is pretty much what happens with me as well. It seems some devs think Greenlight will automatically promote their game. It does, but they need to put in some legwork as well to get up to the top.

Desert Punk:

MetalMagpie:

SecondPrize:
I had thought that games were approved based on the number of yes votes received compared to other greenlight games.

That appears to be the basic idea. But the whole process is surrounded by a real fog of mystery. A lot of games seem to get through on the mysterious quality of "getting traction".

It would be nice to be able to see where a particular game is currently sitting on the list, or at least some indication of how they're doing. I think the developers can see what their current ranking is (because some of them post updates with it).

They have a little meter that fills up for various tiers of preorders for tiered bonuses, like they did with Xcom and the like.

Should be too hard to adapt that to put on the page so if someone click yay it fills up a bit, then if the game fills its meter they get published.

They did originally have a meter that filled up as more people voted (with a percentage of "votes required"), but it was taken down. I think the main reason for losing it was that it was causing a lot of confusion as Valve changed the "votes required" number in the background, causing the "progress" on various games to fluctuate madly.

But I agree that bringing back some sort of meter (and doing it better this time!) would help a lot with making voting on Greenlight more compulsive. People like meters.

I'm pretty sure that Greenlight, by design, is intended to provide an alternative to the regular process of getting an indie game to Steam. I don't think it was ever intended as a promotion tool. If developers want to promote their game, they should invest in it themselves.

I really do think that this is all, at the end of the day, on the users. Sure, Valve could do their bit to make it more visible, and they'd probably see results in doing so. But the "millions of users" of Steam are the ones not doing anything, and they're the ones you have to motivate. I mean, how many people won't even click Youtube links for one-minute videos?

Getting people to care about products and ideas they literally know nothing about is hard fucking work. I wouldn't expect Valve not to pull that weight but, you gotta understand how hard it is to make people who don't literally do not care give a shit.

Oh, come on. There is only so much exposure to something the human mind can comfortably handle without dismissing it as background static. Valve has to limit this on the front page or it'll all turn into a blurry clusterfuck of ads.

The indy devs are dissapointed they aren't getting their particular games visible... ok, fine. They may have paid a fee to get onto Steam Greenlight, but that fee does not include guaranteed views of their games. It's up to them to arrange that. SG is not some sort of magical pay-and-you're-instantly-popular service, it's a voting system and nothing more, and as we all know, not that many people are interested in voting... for anything.
Seriously... the only reason we still vote for politicians is because we literally cannot escape them shoving their messages down our throats come election time.

Don't get me wrong, it's great that Gabe is working on a way to improve the service, but I think these devs are just feeling jealous of those that actually do get the required buzz to get known (and, lets face it, why wouldnt they be?).

1) Greenlight filtering is unfinished at best, search results are full of games I'm nowhere to be interested in.

2) The fact that you can't see a progress the game you liked is making, isn't helping really.

3) Valve said it wants to make Linux alternative to MS Windows as PC gaming platform...well, I can't really say they're trying hard leaving indie developers on their own like this.

Would targeted notifications on Greenlight nominations work? For me personally I do not look at the Greenlight page, very few of the games catch my interest and I do not check regularly and wade through everything to find the occasional project that does.

If Steam notified users about nominated games similar to ones the user has already bought or voted for in Greenlght would it attract more interest? Or would it just piss people off?

Desert Punk:
Honestly, I forget it exists too until I go over a games kickstarter page and they go "Vote for us on steam greenlight!"

They could make it more visible without pushing it on people, for example if they remove it from the Community sub menu and stick it next to the store button along the top bar.

They did the same thing for Big Picture mode, wouldn't be too intrusive to put an icon on the main bar for it.

I get what you mean, but I don't think that would make a huge difference (although doing it certainly wouldn't hurt). Unless you like to go there and open a few windows at random, there are way too many games to just browse them all. And that's what you'd need to do, if you hope to find anything you like enough to want to push it, unless you already heard about it elsewhere.

The system probably needs to be changed in some way, for it to be more useful to the devs, but it's still going to be hard for the majority of them to really get something other than some basic publicity out of it.

Steam Greenlight is right there on the main store page. If Steam users aren't visiting it it's because we don't care enough. Maybe both you, as the developer, and Steam should get together and find out WHY so few Steam users vote instead of blaming it on Steam. There are ways to do polls and such.

Here. I'll give you my input now.

1) Greenlight is for me to vote for games I want to buy on Steam. However, I'm currently unemployed, so I can't buy your game anyway therefore I'm not worried about getting your game accepted.

2) Many of the games on Greenlight are not even done yet. Out of the first 10 recent submissions on Greenlight 1 is a released game (except only on other platforms). 1 is scheduled to have been released a few days ago but has not been updated to say whether it actually has been released or not. 1 says it won't release until it's Greenlit. The other 7 won't even be done until later this Summer or Fall. I'm NOT gonna go vote so I can buy your game if it's not even done yet. I've voted on 1 unfinished indie game so far and I now kinda regret it because since I voted for it it has been taken over by a major publisher, changed around, and now is not much of what it used to be at the time of my vote.

Anyway, as has been said by others above, Steam Greenlight is not an advertisement service (unless I've totally misunderstood the system). With thousands of Greenlight games there's no way each individual game can get noticed by Steam users. You would have to have a special place near the top for each game...sort of like the daily deal but instead the daily Greenlight game. And because there's thousands of them it couldn't be daily...each game could only be shown for what? An hour? Half-hour? A few minutes?

Or maybe if you really want your indie game to get that front page notice we could have a separate vote to see which Greenlight game deserves to have the front page view for an entire day or week...sort of a Greenlight Games Pre-Vote Vote. Vote to have your game on the front page so that it can get enough attention for voters to vote for your game to be accepted on Greenlight so that it can be put back on the front page for voters to finally buy.

Steam can make Greenlight more visible, but there's no way it can maintain the service's intended function, while increasing visibility of the games themselves. I've voted for some, but many of the games included are still utter dross. And now I can't be arsed to open Greenlight even when I'm presently aware of its existence.

That is the nature of anything that allows unchecked submissions.

Oh cry me a river. I use Greenlight regularly, and most of the games I vote on aren't even worth the down-vote I give them.

Also, it's been pointed out that Greenlight is already quite visible and that Steam and Indie developers should be looking into why the users aren't interested in it.

I might be drunk (or confused on the man's genealogy), but isn't Gabe Newell closer to the Australian Santa Claus (or Father Christmas, psh) than the Austrian one?

Also, I haven't seen Greenlight being pushed much myself, outside of the Kickstarters I've thrown money at.

Unfinished games, korean grinders, high brow "artsy" games... games that have a whacky cartoonish style that cant be taken serious.

Theres so much junk on greenlight that it becomes very tedious to wade through it all to find the good ones.

I do check every 2 days or so for the newest projects but all I see is one project after another that hopes to make a quick buck or simply is utter crap.

Hell there are even games on there that are made with the RPG maker software...

And again how do you want to get people to vote for your product... when it isnt even in alpha stage now?

"Do you want to buy this game?" Hell i have no idea! It looks good on paper but thats it.. on paper.

I think the biggest issue with Greenlight were all the complete garbage submissions piled into the service before Valve started limiting applications. A lot of original visitors got tired of wading through the mess and gave up on the service, only visiting games promoted elsewhere (Kickstarter, Official sites, friends, etc.)

I for one visit Greenlight any time I only have a few minutes to kill, which is usually at least 3 or 4 times a week. Greenlight has it's own subsection in the menu, and a picture link on the main page of the store. What more do developers want? Full screen banners replacing the adverts for the games people are actively wishing to find and buy? Valve did do that very thing for several weeks.

Greenlight is a concept in progress. As in everything else in life, it will never please everyone, but personally I think it's doing a good job for what it is. Don't even see anything like it on any other service, so it's win-win.

Nobody is interested in my game? Clearly this is Steam's fault for not running prime-time TV ads for it using the $100 I gave them to display my work that no one has heard of

Seriously, what does he want? Users that give a crap vote on what they'd wanna see published there. Sounds to me like he's just butt-hurt no one voted for his game.

Karadalis:
Unfinished games, korean grinders, high brow "artsy" games... games that have a whacky cartoonish style that cant be taken serious.

This is my biggest problem with it, what's the point of voting for something that isn't going to be released on steam for atleast another year?

Towns is the only green lit game I've actually bought and whilst it amused me for a fair while, it was not fantastic.

Kuala BangoDango:
Or maybe if you really want your indie game to get that front page notice we could have a separate vote to see which Greenlight game deserves to have the front page view for an entire day or week...sort of a Greenlight Games Pre-Vote Vote. Vote to have your game on the front page so that it can get enough attention for voters to vote for your game to be accepted on Greenlight so that it can be put back on the front page for voters to finally buy.

Or the games that's been Favorited the most. Maybe just cycle through the top 7 Favorited.

I tried green light and felt like I was going to lose my mind after looking through just the first three pages of submissions. Some of the game ideas are really good, others seem like they'd be better on a different piece of hardware such as Fractured Soul (would love it if it were on the vita, but not so much on the PC).

It's basically like a game version of those research survey's that give you some kind of website specific currency for completing them, toting that if you fill out enough of them you'll get a shot at some scholarship, food coupon, random-freebie-item-of-GLORY!

The only people who get any benefit out of the system are the researchers. Everyone who fills out the sheets for a chance to win something are foolishly wasting their time.

I really don't care all that much. How many of the millions of people on Steam do anything more than boot it up or have it idle in the background? How many only installed it because it's integrated into a game they purchased a hard copy of? How many of those users use the forums to do anything more than complain when something doesn't work? How many use the community features at all? How many care enough to set up their freakin' profile?

To complain that only 15K users out of millions check out Greenlight on a regular basis (even assuming this is correct), seems like it's a logically invalid inference. There's no guarantee that you'll get X amount of users or X percentage of users. If only 15K visit, then only 15K of all of the people that use Steam for any number of other reason care enough to also spend time browsing through the mess of unproven and unknown indie titles.

So most people don't care, big whoop. Steam is a game distribution service first, DRM second, community third, and Greenlight falls somewhere further down that list. I look at it when it first came out, and just shrugged and moved on. If an indie game is good enough to break out of Greenlight to more widespread notoriety (such as F.T.L.), then I'll give it a glance. I'm by no means an indie connoisseur, nor do I go out of my way to play indie games for any particular reason. And judging from the numbers, that seems to put me in the overwhelming majority.

Sorry indie developers, but you have to give me a reason to care.

Reach out to the popular youtube gamers to get you votes on greenlight. Greenlight isn't a billboard. As an indie dev. you still have to "advertise like shameless whores" to get you the votes you want. I've only ever used Greenlight when i've seen the game in action. So there you go. my 2 cents.

I looked at Greenlight once. It was so poorly designed that I couldn't make heads or tails on how to navigate it. I think I've voted on two games, tops.

Ok, here is some information from our campaign on Greenlight. We are making a game called Legends of Eisenwald. We put it on Greenlight on Dec 13, and as of today we got almost 115k visitors and almost 47k yes votes and currently hold #9 position. Now, everyone seemed to have forgotten that before Greenlight the process was much worse - as a dev you had to go to Valve's website, fill out a form and then wait for a response indefinite time. And if response was no, you could resubmit again but without high chances of anyone to look at your game ever again! Well, Greenlight has its issues and could be improved but we have to acknowledge the good it has done and then think about ways to improve it. I spoke about it more in this article here: http://tinyurl.com/ch32to8, lately I feel sort of on a quest to defend Greenlight.

And as many of commenters here pointed, it's necessary for devs themselves to do some promotion! You can't expect Steam or anyone else do all the work for you. In a way, Greenlight is a training camp to promote your game in the same way you would need to promote it when the game is out. And I am very grateful that I got to realize that we pretty much suck in promotion. At least now I can think of some measures what to do instead of just focusing on the production of our game.

So apparently Greenlight's presentation and search engine is like coming in fourth in a horse race: Devs can't win, place OR show :(

Desert Punk:

mdqp:
That's a very weird complain for developers to have. Do they expect Steam to actively promote greenlight more than what they already do? I don't think Steam users would like a more aggressive attempt to draw attention to it. Greenlight costs just 100$ to get in, do they really want more free publicity out of it? Also, game that get media attention are always going to have more votes than anonymous games, because that's just the way it is. I don't live to promote games, and I assume nobody does, so expecting millions of people to just fire greenlight on a regular basis is probably asking too much, at least for what greenlight is right now.

Honestly, I forget it exists too until I go over a games kickstarter page and they go "Vote for us on steam greenlight!"

They could make it more visible without pushing it on people, for example if they remove it from the Community sub menu and stick it next to the store button along the top bar.

They did the same thing for Big Picture mode, wouldn't be too intrusive to put an icon on the main bar for it.

Look for $100 they are getting 15k people a week looking at their product, thats a damn good deal. Big picture is product developed by valve, so guess what, they give their own things prominence that they don't do for others. Valve isn't a charity and greenlight is a massive hand up from valve to indie gamers that they don't have to do. Complaining that your unfinished game hasn't been given a lot space in the biggest pc game shop in world shows a certain lack of realism. Valve is going to give prominence to things that will bring them the most money and that isn't greenlight.

Maybe people don't frequent Greenlight because a large percentage of indie games are gimmicky forgettable experiences?

I've got nothing against Indie games at all but there are few that hold my attention for more than 10 minutes.

albino boo:
Valve is going to give prominence to things that will bring them the most money and that isn't greenlight.

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I know this might come as a surprise...

...But when people see games they would like to spend money on, and support those games getting released...

Steam would make more money!
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Then again you also thought that Bohimia interactive was spying for Turkey, so I am not sure how much traction I am going to get here. :P

albino boo:

Look for $100 they are getting 15k people a week looking at their product, thats a damn good deal. Big picture is product developed by valve, so guess what, they give their own things prominence that they don't do for others. Valve isn't a charity and greenlight is a massive hand up from valve to indie gamers that they don't have to do. Complaining that your unfinished game hasn't been given a lot space in the biggest pc game shop in world shows a certain lack of realism. Valve is going to give prominence to things that will bring them the most money and that isn't greenlight.

And if your game is any good or you have some community or do some promotion, then the results could be much better! But yes, right now it's easy to get lost in over 1000 games there, and because of that it's not enought just to hang in there and hope that your game will do well.

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