Most people here are already familiar with Steam Greenlight in some capacity or another. It’s a system that allows developers to publish screenshots, news and videos of their game onto the platform with the aim of building a mass consumer base and having said consumer base vote for your game to be uploaded onto Steam. Once up there, it’s naturally available for general distribution. Greenlight is now the process that developers must adhere to in order to achieve the honour of having their game specifically highlighted by a knowledgeable PC community, and it works. To be fair to the developers, if they create a game that is obviously exuding creativity and imagination, then oftentimes the game can speak for itself, but most games come off the back of critical consumer feedback and eventual word-of-mouth.
We only need to look at previously released games to understand how important this system actually is. Kentucky Route Zero, Evoland, Surgeon Simulator and Incredipede have all garnered enough attention to be released onto Steam. All of these games has gone on to have amazing success, with the potential percentile profit margin for each game something extraordinary. That Papers, Please was greenlighted is indicative of a system that allows interesting videogames to prosper; melding inherent bleakness with a repetitive depression that resonates with anyone who’s held a menial job might not work via console format. Long story short, there’s a wealth of titles on Steam Greenlight that are unique, both in their originality and deviation from the norm.
Why Greenlight works so well though, is because it allows for gradual progression. A developer may be looking for instant success, but they’ll likely fail in their attempt for monetary gain because it’s easy to forget the several steps in-between making a game and selling it. Steam allows devs the opportunity to put forward a concept before having to send off their game. The importance cannot be ignored, as it firmly clarifies for the developer which avenue they need to take, whether their game is fine to send to the next stage, or whether feedback from potential consumers indicates that there are inherent problems. Feedback is necessary in every industry and one of the cornerstones to success, thus the process here can never be overstated.
Whereas it’s vital to the creator/s of any particular title, it’s incredibly exciting from a consumer’s point of view. Plunging into the mass of titles put forward isn’t just fun, but genuinely important and it’s that melange of aspects that demonstrates the meaningfulness from both the perspective of consumer and developer. The person making the game is attempting to contribute to the changing face of the industry, where our job is to highlight those games which we feel will best accentuate the industry and provide enough credibility through our choices that we highlight positivity for the future as opposed to unjust criticism.
We are allowed in our own small way to dictate the fate of the industry. That’s a grand statement to make, but it’s true in a sense. Admittedly, it must be said that there are a host of terribly rushed games out there, but our job is to act as some sort of gaming-janitor and dispose of any excess waste that’s clogging up the drain.
The games on Greenlight are like a ball pit. Most of them shouldn’t be allowed to see the light of day, but for every ten poorly designed games, there’s one Sheldon Cooper lurking in that fictitious pit and that’s the one we need to be highlighting, allowing it room to breathe. When we do we’re not only getting a great game, but emphasising the medium as a whole.