Tag Archives: steam

Valve Cleans Up Steam Greenlight After Eventful Launch

6 Sep

Valve’s Steam Greenlight launched last week, allowing members of their popular gaming platform and community to vote on games they would like to see appear in the Steam Marketplace. Already, Valve is doing the “good guy” move and making positive changes to the system to reduce the number of sub-par submissions and make relevant games easier to find and vote on.

Steam GreenlightChange 1: Pay To Submit

  • Problem: Too many bogus submissions. It’s all too easy for a jokester of a user to submit a game that’s an obvious knockoff, smutty, or fake; the only thing the submissions process requires is a few screenshots, a short video, and descriptor text.
  • Solution: Valve implemented a feature in which to submit a game to Greenlight for the first time, a user must make a $100 donation to the charity Child’s Play as a show of good faith and seriousness. This is a one-time payment; any later games can be submitted freely with no additional charges.
  • Reaction: If the Greenlight forums are to be believed, the reaction is positive. Many users only found out about the update when they logged on and saw that the “trash” submissions were mysteriously and conspicuously absent. The general agreement is that while a $100 charge is a little steep  (and may want to be reduced in the future), it’s not that much for an aspiring developer willing to take a risk. The fact that the money goes to charity, and not into Valve’s pockets, is another point in the company’s favor. Plus, the fee means Steam’s moderators can spend less time monitoring Greenlight. Fine by me; better they pay attention to games that are already released than try to corral the “someday” titles anyway.

Change #2: Collections

  • Problem: Almost immediately, so many games flooded the marketplace that it became very difficult to rate them all. Search features were confusing and hit-or-miss at best, so it became difficult to find new games to rate, or locate ones that had been previously rated.
  • Solution: The implementation of the “collections” feature, in which a user can make a playlist of sorts filled with games of a similar genre, theme, or other common thread. This list then appears on the Greenlight page, making it easy to find the “Indie Horror Bundle”, for instance, and vote on all the games therein.
  • Reaction: Great idea. Curation is always an issue in systems like this, so once again the solution is to let the crowd do it for you. Friends will be able to look at the lists of other friends, which makes it easier to gain more support for games you’ve rated highly. Plus, it’s an extra angle to game discovery; you can either browse the homepage at your leisure, or check out the lists for a more linear experience.

Moving Forward: More Work to Be Done

This is an excellent start for Greenlight, especially considering how young the platform is. But there is still more to be done to make this the ultimate platform for gaming democracy. Small changes will be made to the fee, I’m sure; the ability to give to a charity besides Child’s Play will likely come sooner than later.

Additionally, there is a lot of confusion about the rating system. Users are hesitant to press the “disapprove” button, even though it’s been stated many times by Valve that only positive votes affect whether a game gets released. Users also want the ability to pass up on a game without removing it from their rating queue. For example, if a game looked intriguing but didn’t quite have the polish to earn the user’s vote yet. I feel that Valve would be wise to add a three-point rating system, with options for “I would buy this,” “We’ll see / Maybe later,” and “Not for me, next!”

At any rate, Valve once again pushed the gaming industry forward and shows us what a company can do when their primary focus is on the people who use their service. Hats off to them, and I hope that we see some truly incredible work come out of their platform in the next few months.



ThinkGeek Opens Its Doors To Your Weird Product Ideas

9 Aug


ThinkGeek :: Idea Factory

Like Steam before it, the geek-culture retail powerhouse ThinkGeek has finally announced that they will allow their customers to have a greater role in the product development process. It comes in the form of IdeaFactory, where users can send their ideas to ThinkGeek though their online submission form. ThinkGeek reviews the idea, decides whether or not to produce it, and pays the user if they decide to go ahead with it.

On the surface, this is pretty similar to Quirky, but with some major key differences:

  • ThinkGeek is big. It has the advantage, like Steam, of already being a well-loved and established retail platform with profits well into the millions. They have the money to spend to make a project like this great, and a huge army of ravenous supporters ready to submit their ideas. Quirky has neither of these advantages.
  • The process is so, so easy. All the online submission form asks for is a product name and as much description or image as you’re willing to give. The rest is contact info; your name, address, phone number, and agreement to the Terms and Conditions. In the time it took me to type this, you could have submitted five ideas already. After that, ThinkGeek takes care of the whole thing; no garnering votes, no contacting manufacturers, no raising money. They just make your idea into a product, simple as that.
  • The rewards are huge. Just from ThinkGeek green-lighting your concept, you net a cool thousand dollars. After that comes the real stuff. A 10% cut of the product’s profits until it hits $1 million in sales (5% after that, still not bad). A very heavy discount if you want to buy your own product. And perhaps most importantly, the ability to sell the product on your own website, make trade show appearances, and generally keep all bragging rights and fame from your idea.

So if you have an idea for a cool computer accessory, geeky article of clothing, or inventive toy, now’s the time. Submit your idea now, before everyone catches wind of this and floods the system with “human-to-Wookie translator”-caliber ideas.


Steam Announces Greenlight, Its Own Kickstarter For Games

11 Jul

Gambitious had a great idea with their whole “Kickstarter for Videogames” thing, so it makes sense that we didn’t have to wait long for the big guns to follow suit.

Steam Greenlight Coming Soon

Game distribution platform Steam just announced Greenlight, a system that will allow its users to cast votes to decide which new games will appear on the Steam marketplace. This will abolish, or at least mitigate, the trials of the former review process, which would often leave game developers with a “no” answer and no further explanation.

Developers will submit their project to Greenlight in the form of a branding image, a handful of screenshots, some intro footage, and tentative system requirements. Users will cast votes and offer feedback, and games that have enough “traction” compared to similar games are selected for distribution. Compare this to Kickstarter, where projects must reach a certain monetary threshold to be funded; in Greenlight, all you need is the proper attention.

The advantages of such a system for Steam are numerous:

  • Games stay in Greenlight indefinitely, offering unlimited opportunities for improvement and reassessment
  • It costs Steam the same (small) amount to host any game, whether it sells ten copies or ten million, so they don’t lose money by hosting smaller “indie” games
  • And of course, there is an audience waiting for every approved game with open wallets

As long as Steam hammers out the kinks in the first few months of the system’s release, we’re looking at a real winner of an idea here. They could reach out to established platforms like Gambitious and Desura that have already crowdsourced games to see what pitfalls to avoid. The fact that this sort of thing has been done before bodes very well, though, and it’s always great when companies let eager audiences help create new content.  I can’t wait to see what this system turns out!

Gaming, Porn, and LEGO: Bachelor Weekend or Key To Crowdsourcing? (Part 1 of 2)

19 Jun

I started this blog with the intention of bringing crowdsourcing to the masses. To do so, I knew I would have to uncover real-world examples of it that most people had interacted with. Today, I write to you because I have realized this goal; I found amateur pornography, PC gaming, and LEGO bricks.

Porn was a topic I wanted to discuss at one point or another on this blog, because I recognized that it was an industry that had whole-heartedly accepted crowdsourcing as Copyright 2008 The Weinstein Companyone of their methods of production. Non-professional or amateur porn has been around almost as long as videography itself, and recently received a huge boon in the form of camera phones and user-uploaded content (“tube”) sites.  This industry was quick to accept crowdsourcing as a form of content creation, when so many others have dragged their feet or actively resisted. Now, they enjoy the fact that they have tube sites like these to generate heaps of content at no personal cost, which helps offset their recent losses in DVD sales.

I sought other entities that had accepted crowdsourcing in the same way, and found the brick-building toy LEGO. Their integration was to a lesser degree, to be certain, but Copyright 2008-2012 CUUSOO SYSTEMnonetheless multifaceted; their websites solicits pictures, ideas, and full-on schematics of any custom model their users have built. They even go so far as to have implemented the CUUSOO program, which takes popular user-created models and packages them as actual retail items that can be bought from the website or a real-world toy store. LEGO understands that even though they are primarily a children’s toy, they still have a not-insignificant portion of adult users who want to show off their creations. And so like porn, LEGO has recognized a need and made steps to fill it by utilizing user content.

And finally we have video games, who take on crowdsourcing in a limited, but more profound way. User-generated content is again the key here, this time in the form of “mods”. Mods are custom modifications that a user may make to a game they own that Copyright 2011 Dread Father & XFrostbitechange the graphics, gameplay, maps, items, or just about any other aspect of the game. These mods are typically collected, shared, rated, and downloaded on community sites that are wholly or partly supported by the game publishers themselves. Games like Half-Life and Skyrim enjoy a massive community of modders, which not only adds to the game’s content but ensures that people will continue to buy it long into the future. Add to this the fact that there are other communities that simply program and release their own games to play, some of which are good enough to make it onto professional retail platforms like Steam or the Apple store. All in all, the gaming industry is one that is largely on-board with user-generated content.

So what is it about these industries that makes them so apt to bring their users into the fold, when so many others have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the world of crowdsourcing? The answer, which I will reveal next week, has implications that could mean a whole new approach to discovering which industries are ready to implement crowdsourcing. More importantly, it may reveal industries that are doomed to crowdsourcing failure before they even start. Tune in next week for Part 2: The Common Thread!

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