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Valve: Steam Greenlight will create "fandom"

"It will be fun to be a fan."

Steam Greenlight, Valve's new system for allowing the community to vote on what games get released onto its digital platform, will create fandom, the company has said.

Speaking at the Develop conference in Brighton this morning, Valve's business development chief Jason Holtman said using Steam Greenlight will make it "fun to be a fan".

Steam Greenlight, announced last night, is a new system that allows developers to publicly post information, screenshots and videos for their game, and the general populace will decide what they'd like to see accepted onto the store. The idea is it will help Valve prioritise what games need to be made available.

"It's going to solve the business problem of prioritising release," Holtman said during his keynote presentation. "It's going to be able to collect and publish the information. All of a sudden, you need to be able to see what's coming up and you need to be able to have fans and people rating and looking at it.

"We think it's going to encourage this virtuous development cycle. The problem we had of, how do we encourage somebody when they're not done developing yet? This we think will work. We think a bunch of people will be looking at it going, oh my gosh, I want that.

"As people are looking at it, the person creating it needs to see if they're getting 5000 votes or 6000 votes or what the comments look like. Those are all things you can't do on a one-to-one hierarchical scale. They have to be done one to many.

"It's going to provide not just fans but fandom. The fandom part is important. Yes you want to as a developer be able to find your fans, and this we hope will do it. But the other thing this does it, it will be fun to be a fan. So, using the community to solve this problem. People will want to do this, for the same reason why people like to write reviews, although maybe this is even more fun that writing reviews.

"So if you have those things you can actually start solving that problem of, how do I find the content?"

Steam Greenlight, which incorporates elements of Steam Workshop and benefits from the help of the Team Fortress 2 and Portal teams, is an attempt to solve what Holtman described as a "huge business problem".

Valve would get inundated with thousands of indie games, and simply didn't have the resources to deal with them all in trying to decide what to publish.

"If you look at the Steam team, there are 10, 12 people doing these things," Holtman said. "We would look at the games, and the rest of the company would often help us look at games, but it just doesn't scale when you have thousands of things. You can't become a single resource going, that one, that one. Taking those kinds of bets just doesn't work."

Holtman revealed Valve was also "deathly worried" about making poor decisions about what indie games should be on Steam. "We totally knew we would guess incorrectly. If it was just left to us, we would not find the right things, we would not ship the right things. We couldn't find diamonds in the rough."

He added: "There's very little information or historical data on new indie games. There's no way to tell what's awesome. There's no way to tell what's going to succeed. I doubt if any of you would have seen a proposal for Minecraft, you would have gone, yes! That's it! It's just not possible. You can't imagine it until it happens."

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Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.