Well, I was meant to do a review on Torchlight by now. But after two weeks and a solid 12 hours of game-play, there’s no end in sight to that game. So here instead is a review of the Steam Greenlight system.
Greenlight is essentially a community based kick-starter system which is accessible by anyone with a Steam account. The community can contribute by clicking the ‘thumbs up’, ‘thumbs down’ or the ‘report’ button. With enough ‘thumbs up’ the game gets approved for distribution on Steam. Some games are already finished and just looking for what is probably the most efficient PC game distributor in the world, while other games are in early development and looking for feedback.
The way it works is very simple. Steam automatically generates a list of games for you to look over. You can modify how Steam does this for you by choosing particular genres, or you can just let it generate completely at random. When you click on the game, you delivered to what is essentially a store page where you’re given details, pictures, video and at what stage in the development process the game is in. At this page, you deliver your judgement and move onto the next game in the queue. It’s an extremely quick process and I often spend ten minutes here and there just going through the games.
Back when it was first released at the end of August this year, I wasn’t that impressed. While the idea of it I thought was great for the development, promotion and distribution of indie games, most of the games seemed to have emerged from the Minotaur’s arse. They reminded me of old DOS games from the 90’s with their 256 colours, and others just seemed awful. I know this is judgemental, but if I can’t gauge from all the given information that this game has any potential to be good, then I’ll be throwing down more thumbs down than the emperor of Rome.
Then Steam did something incredibly right. They made all developers pay a $100 for the privilege to be able to put any number of their games into the Steam Greenlight system. This essentially got rid of all the joke submissions or submissions by people who weren’t going to follow through with their game. Also that $100 goes straight to the Child’s Play charity (a charity founded by those Penny Arcade guys devoted to providing toys and games to sick children).
Now, the real reason I love Greenlight is because I’m discovering a lot of games that already exist, many which are currently free on various websites, or you can find their demos on XBLA, etc. And on top of it, there’s no monetary investment on my part, unlike Kickstarter which has this amazing ability to vaporise legal tender.
Though now I have to wonder whether these previously free games will stop being free when Steam starts selling them. And while this does set off alarm bells in my frugal mind, it’s not actually that bad since most games will probably be under $10. This also means that developers of games which are genuinely good will not only recieve a reward for their tireless work, but also an intial incentive for getting their game out there.
You can have a look at the Steam Greenlight here.