Yesterday Valve announced the first games to earn store approval from the Steam Greenlight service, which means we’ve seen the first cycle of the Greenlight process. The $100 entry fee that was added after the launch of the service has stemmed the tide of joke entries and people using it as a wishlist of things they want to see on Steam (seriously people, stop posting Minecraft unless you are Mojang :P ), but there are still hundreds of games out there waiting for our approval.
I think the whole Steam Greenlight system is amazingly clever, as I’ve almost come to expect from Valve. The process of having one’s game approved was previously shrouded in mystery, but having seen the amount of dross Greenlight gets I have a lot more sympathy for the approval team. A Greenlight page can be a great marketing platform for indie devs. Additionally, Greenlight gives consumer participants even more ways to buy in to the whole process, giving players nominal ownership over the approval procedure and ensuring more game sales.
(I’ve heard rumors that Steam wants ALL future games to go through the Greenlight process, although I am pretty darn skeptical that I’ll be given the option to say “no” to Skyrim 2 or some similar giant title. Indie developers, though, had probaly better start polishing up their marketing skills.)
A high number of the games are still in the concept stage, which makes it a little tricky to determine how much you’ll like the final version. There are some games with playable demos, though, and it’s possible for talent to sparkle. Here are some of my favorites for your consideration:
* Gnomoria is basically a streamlined version of masochistic classic Dwarf Fortress. This game has apparently been the subject of some organized downvoting by cranky DF fans, but it doesn’t deserve it.
* To be honest I’m not totally convinced that Organ Trail would make a great Steam game, but it’s a cute idea, fun to play, and the devs were super nice at PAX so I’m putting it in this list anyway.
* LA-MULANA is not really my kind of game, but it has mad indie cred on the internet. It was already denied by official Steam channels a while back, which caused a bit of an uproar. Definitely worth a thumbs up!
* Watch this trailer for The Desolate Hope and try and tell me you’re not at least a little interested to see how it plays. The art style is stunning, the sci-fi story is reportedly quite good, and there is clearly a lot of old school retro fight action.
* Have four computers and five INCREDIBLY nerdy friends? Break out Artemis Spaceship Bridge Defender, which simulates a spaceship bridge in the style of Star Trek. Want to be the captain? The communications expert? Sulu? Okay. As much as I mocked this for being nerdy, if I could snap my fingers and set this up in front of me I’d so play it.
Of course not everything on Greenlight is good or even adequate. I don’t want to call out any specific entries because I am just feelin’ too nice today, but… you know that old chestnut that graphics don’t matter if the gameplay is good? At some point that saying is no longer true:
Anyway, I think Steam Greenlight will be a great hit and smart move. I’m already excited myself for the newly approved Project Zomboid, and I’m sure this will just result in me giving Steam even more of my money in the future.