Steam Greenlight was announced and unleashed to the world recently and it seems that overall the reception to the entire concept has been quite positive. But amidst all the oohs and aahhs it seems that not everyone is enamored and enraptured by the gaming company that seems to do no wrong, Valve.
Sophie Holden, an indie game creator who was recently interviewed by Johnathan Holmes, recently posted F**k Steam Greenlight and is not a fan at the moment of the Greenlight concept and believes most people are falling under the sweetened Valve veil and perhaps not taking a minute to look at the downsides.
Most people agree that Valve offer great services and inclusion to the gaming community. Even Sophie Houlden, though unconvinced of the purity and fairness of Greenlight, doesn't seem to have any qualms with that statement.
A particular line from her blog “I won’t get it if it’s not on steam”, is one I have heard of myself quite a lot. I'm sure the main reason people won't get a game unless it is on Steam is because Steam does indeed offer a great immersive, streamlined system with any purchases. A game bought from Steam, is integrated into your Steam program and with it comes mods and perks such as chat, easy game invitations ect, packaged in one neat bundle.
Yet there is something slightly, though admittedly not overtly, pretentious from the notion that other gamers who do not buy a game on steam are missing out on something wondrous. Some people can't afford games, no matter how cheap they are. So they will pirate. Throwing aside the issues of piracy and whether you agree or not, it is a thing that happens and piracy serves well the people, who either genuinely can't afford games or are genuinely lazy and tight.
Other people prefer to own hard copies of their games and in general have no real interest in the dawn and rising of this digital age. The yearning to physically own something and display resonates with across the board. How many people prefer to own a book and finger through it, than to press a button on an E-reader. Probably the same amount of people who prefer owning CD's and those who want to own an actual copy of the games they enjoy playing. Even speaking within the gaming collection world, big box game packaging is a popular trend and personally speaking I miss the days when PC games were released in boxes.
I don't even care what the games are, just the boxes are awesome
Overall I think it's too early right now to dismiss the merits of Greenlight. It's a more focused version of Kickstarter, only voters don't need to contribute their own cash. But even then people may start to claim that the genuine interest in a new independent game isn't as sincere as it would be if the game was primarily being promoted on Kickstarter. It's easier to click a voting button and leave it like that. I could randomly, without thought or care, open tabs for 13 games at once and just vote. But with Kickstarter if you're parting with your own money, you will put more thought and effort into your decision. You'll look at the entire proposal, you may do other research and you'll make a decision based on your personal opinions alone.
With Greenlight, a lot of issues seem to be with the voting system itself. Though a lot of people aren't too keen on the $100 inclusion fee, which can be a lot of money. What am I saying, it is a lot. People will direct friends or followers there to vote and it may end up being a case of the game that wins so to speak, is the game who's creator had the most friends or connections. There's nothing wrong with that, but in the sense of sportsmanship if you like it's the wrong kinda of popularity contest.
But using the word sportsmanship is a bit iffy isn't it? I mean Valve are a company, their main goal is to make money. They may genuinely have heartfelt goals of opening their arms to new ideas and to thoroughly pleasing their fan base. I have no doubt of that. They offer so much outside of just making fun games and putting them on virtual or physical shelves. But no one can blame them for putting the need for profit above principles and good intentions. That's basic, that's understandable.
But perhaps they've shot themselves in the foot a little with their basic voting principle. As I said the concept of a new game getting out there, based on community votes, might mean that not many more than the voters will purchase the game. The game might not be as good to a wider audience as other potentials and then the profits might hit an end line and Valve might have wished another game got the top spot.
We can but dream such a game would be made
Regarding Sophie Houlden's blog entry, my only questions right now is that she or us, haven't seen anything really kick off yet, it's new and out there and while the process as we are told seems to primarily favour only those with games already out there or a following, we've still no idea or list of statistics yet to prove that new comers are getting shafted. It's just a bit early on to be making damning accusations or to be in a position of unyielding defiant support. Sophie is an actual game creator, she is an indie developer and at the end of the day it's those people that will be effected either positively or negatively by Steam Greenlight. This is how they make a living and how they try and get their ideas out there. We who aren't in their position have more choices and don't lose out by the actions of individual voters or companies.
The idea that business comes first is one we shouldn't be shocked about and should accept. But that being said, it's still understandable to see why people in the front line or just a little bit behind within the indie game world are a little bit put out and put off by Greenlight and what it offers or to them claims to offer.
Gabe always wants to offer us something new and kinky
Still the whole story gives me pause for thought and you have to spare a moment to marvel at where we are right now with regards to games and the gaming industry.
The world right now is still undergoing a recession that is kicking the majority of us squarely in the nuts. Yet look at the amount of job openings going within the gaming world. I browse many inidividual websites and collective ones weekly looking at vacancies within the gaming industry and there is quite a lot. Many offerings are in the highly skilled department, but that makes no difference, the fact remains, there's a heck of a lot of them there.
Games have an abundance of websites dedicated to reviewing them solely on their packaged content, their game play, the issues they cause, the big business scandals affiliated with them and the celebrities that give their likeness and voice to the stories they produce.
Getting a leg up in the gaming industry might be very difficult but it is slightly easier than getting a chance to be seen and heard in other mediums, such as writing and acting. Conventions occur annually in many regions offering showcasing opportunities and potential job grabbings. Youtube, blogging and other free exports online let anyone have a chance to get noticed and make a profit if they work hard enough and offer something a large group of viewers will enjoy and come back for. Gaming is overtaking Hollywood, it's overtaking publishing and it's ruling the general employed world in many aspects. To those involved, developers, artists or writers, you're lucky, no matter what you're content is, if it's out their you're in a privileged position.
You lucky toffs!
Indie game designers offer us more variety and easy access than the AAA creators in the gaming world or the film world right now. How many films these days are nothing but reboots, revamps or sequels. People might enjoy reliving something or looking at it from a new artistic perspective but overall I find that myself and others might just be fed up of the same copy and paste trend that is infiltrating and seeding the various forms of entertainment we enjoy and spend our money on. So the idea behind Greenlight is to open the floor up to new ideas, maybe something that doesn't involve a gun shooting generic soldiers in a generic brown/grey backdrop, maybe a funny, thought provoking game with a unique character that isn't a generic white individual with a troubled heart because his family was decapitated by ravaging aliens (that gig alone has been done enough).
So Greenlight might not be this charity lovable father to stray games that just need a little help and a slot on the market, but it's doing something, something that has at this very moment more pros, than cons. Valve have yet to really do anything to piss people off universally, like companies such as EA have.
I say for now, we give Greenlight a chance and see where it goes and hopefully those involved behind the scenes and displayed via inventive usernames will give new game designers a chance to shine and in turn give themselves and us the ability to try something new, that we might end up loving. Lets just cool our jets and see what happens and hopefully be a part of some new endevours and proud achievements within the foreseeable future of gaming and the breadwinning hobby we love so much.