By: Stephen Crane
Just last week Steam launched their new indie games release system known as Steam Greenlight. It's pretty much what you would expect from them. Project creators submit their games to Greenlight, and the community votes on whether or not they want the games featured on Steam.
Steam is facing plenty of challenges within that first week, however. We're already seeing plenty of trolls, as well as plenty of actual games whose content is too questionable or offensive for the digital distribution service. While trolls are pretty easy to find, the latter presents ethical problems to sort out. If there is a bonafide game that is considered "too mature" or "too sexual", where was that line drawn?
Originally, the terms of service stated that any game "must not contain offensive material or violate copyright or intellectual property rights." Whose version of "offensive" do you take? Games like SeduceMe are a learning opportunity for Steam. Does it belong on Greenlight? Most likely not. That's not the market they're catering to. Instead, they're going ahead and clarifying their Terms of Service to reflect what they are looking for.
All this trolling and the moral ambiguity is tremendously unfortunate. It takes away from the fantastic games that potentially could be on there. Games like Rekoil, CubeDefense, Exoplanet: First Contact, or even Battle for Presidency all deserve a fighting chance in the marketplace that these trolls take eyes away from. It's a potentially valuable system, and one that deserves much more than the trolls we've been seeing.
Solutions into stopping or at least increasing the price of trolling have been proposed. Some developers in the forums are asking for a $10 per project submission fee. Others are asking for trolls to be permabanned. Whatever ends up happening, this is definitely an interesting new system to look into and hopefully it will work in the future.
[UPDATE] Greenlight now requires a $100 submission fee before you can post a potential game. The games now must not contain "Someone else's game, unless you have specific authorization to do so, porn, inappropriate or offensive content, warez, or leaked content, cheating, hacking, game exploits, threats of violence or harassment, even as a joke, games using copyright material such as assets or intellectual property without permission from the owner, soliciting, begging, auctioning, selling, advertising, referrals, racism, discrimination. Abuse of Steam Greenlight will result in forfeit of your Greenlight Submission fee and/or banning from the Steam Community services."
So it looks like they listened to both suggestions from the developers and learned that just leaving things open on the internet dis probably a bad idea. As a bonus, all the proceeds from the submissions will go to charity and not to line Valve's pocket.