Several months ago, Valve axed Steam Greenlight and replaced it with Direct. For the uninitiated, Steam’s Greenlight program was designed to have the Steam community vote on the games they think should be released on Steam. Sounds good, right? That’s where you’d be wrong. Greenlight worked in theory. The keyword being theory. The actual practice of Greenlight has been an unmitigated disaster. Steam has hemorrhaged liquid shit since its implementation in 2013. So much trash has infested the Steam storefront, making it impossible to find solid indie titles because you must sift through so much shit. Its unsanitary.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it hadn’t attracted scumbaggery of the lowest degree. Some of these so-called developers have shown hostility to those critical of their games. Hostile acts such as removing negative comments or making copyright claims against YouTube coverage. One particular “developer” took the hostility to the next level. Digital Homicide had a long-standing feud with game critic Jim Sterling, which culminated in a frivolous lawsuit being brought against Sterling. Fortunately, the suit was dropped due to the embarrassing incompetence of Digital Homicide. Check out Jim Sterling’s video on the ordeal for more details. They also attempted to sue 100 anonymous Steam users, which resulted in Valve finally stepping in and removed all Digital Homicide’s games from Steam. Good going, you’ve played yourself.
Digital Homicide was not alone with such vile behavior. Numerous problems have been caused by Greenlight. Greenlight opened the flood gates and allowed considerable amount of shady and hostile behavior. Many “developers” used shady tactics to get their games Greenlit. Things like giving away activation keys for other games (which may have been pirated) or trading cards, using bribes to influence groups on Steam to get votes (see YOLO Army). Other douchey behavior includes the asset flip. “Developers” purchase (or pirated) assets from an engine store such as Unity, then cobble together the assets unaltered and no thought to cohesion and sold on Steam. In some cases, the game is simply a tutorial of how to use the assets. Yet, somehow this doesn’t violate Unity’s terms of service. There are so many identical games on Steam, all from the Unity store or Game Guru.
All of this occurred on Geenlight’s watch. Valve stood by and allowed their once respected storefront become a bargain bin full of garbage. What was Valve’s solution to this? Get rid Greenlight and replace it with Steam Direct. Instead of community involvement, submitters simply pay a fee of $100. I gave Direct a chance to prove itself and has been no better. It might even be worse. No longer do developers have to connive to get approval from the community. Simply pay the fee and your game is good to go, if it can download properly. Though broken games still get through.
None of the previously mentioned problems have been fixed. At least the community could put up some resistance against the trash bin invasion under Greenlight. Why is Valve so against quality control? Algorithms are a great tool, but that’s it, just a tool. It’s not a replacement for human oversight. Valve has a ridiculous amount of money. It would hardly cost anything to have 2-4 people looking at the submissions. Many of these games wouldn’t be on Steam if a person took a quick glance at them.
All of Valve’s solutions are averse to human input. Clearly, Valve doesn’t care about their damaged reputation. They are swimming in money. Retailers like Target or Amazon have stringent quality control measures. If they sold broken products to customers, they would be in danger of facing lawsuits. Why is it okay for Steam to ignore quality control? They are selling low quality, broken products, making it harder for buyers to find good indie games. Sifting through pages upon pages of garbage is an exhausting affair. Valve has the power to stop it, but they do nothing. Please Valve, stop enabling these dickish behaviors. Don’t just rely on algorithms. Put effort into making your storefront more welcoming and user friendly. Only Valve can fix Steam.