The Greenlight Issue

Maybe they just don't like your game.
Maybe they just don't like your game.

I think the concept of Steam's Greenlight service is an interesting proposition. You get independent developer a chance to showcase their work to a big audience who uses their force in numbers to either help their game reach the serivce it may otherwise not have, or not reach that service. With such a big audience as Steam has, one would figure that there is probably some parts of that audience that can find something worth cheering for in that section.

And people have been doing that and we've seen several games come out of Greenlight that may or may not have seen the light of day otherwise. So looking at the concept like that, it's easy to feel good about community driven effort to get some smaller games on there.

But some smaller games have it harder in their reception on Greenlight than others. Or maybe that's just what we've been told by a few of the game developers and industry press that like to champion a different type of experience over the tried and true. Over the last few weeks I've been thinking about this issue, especially after the Bombin' the A.M. episodes with David S Gallant creator of I Get This Call Every Day and recently Zoe Quinn, creator of Depression Quest. In both cases there was discussion on the resistance on Greenlight from it's user base to the concept of such games. Saying they had nothing to do there, for various reasons.

One hypothesis that was brought up was the idea that people feared that their games might have to be less visible or less likely to appear if other, and in their non-games, were to appear on the platform. And the notion was brushed off as saying tripple A titles will be around and people don't have to worry about their Call of Duty (as a side note; bringing up COD as some form of generalization for a group of people's taste in games is getting a bit tired).

Some people commenting on those games and voting for those games not to be included probably do fear a future where there are games they don't understand or find fun. But I highly doubt they're the majority. My hypothesis is that the majority of people simply don't like (or don't think they would like) some of these games. For someone that likes niche games, that seems strange, why not experience all the potential things the medium can offer? Why not be inclusive?

But most people don't go to games for those things, they don't see game's media as that form of entertainment. And maybe you could ask something like; "even if they don't like it, why can't others have it?" But that's also not really what Greenlight is asking, is it?

Any time you enter a Greenlight page you're asked; "Would you buy this game if it was available on Steam?" That is a business question that inquire on possible sale. If you're not thinking that you might buy it, why would you help get that game through? And if you don't vote no, chances are percentage wise the games you vote yes on might be scored comparably lower. So your best bet is to vote no on the games that does not interest you, while voting yes for the games that do interest you in the hopes that the games you want to play actually appear on the platform you're on.

Maybe it's not tripple A Call of Duty players that goes around harassing independent developers passion projects for the fear of not getting a new Call of Duty, maybe the independent passion project is a bit too niche for the person voting. And that's totally ok. I believe there's room for games like I Get This Call Every Day and Depression Quest on Steam (and I will continue to happily vote for them), and I want to live in the world where they're given a chance to grow. But there's no way to brute force them if the market isn't ready for it and you can't blame the market for not taking a liking to your creation.

That's sort of the down side of being on the fringes, not everyone will want to follow you down the rabbit hole.

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