Time flies when you’re completely rewritting the rules of game publishing.
Steam Greenlight, which leverages the Steam community to discover and up-vote promising new indie games, just turned one year old. It’s been an interesting 12 months, full of frequent changes to its system and more than a few growing pains. It’s also been seen the indie offerings on Valve’s popular game-streaming service more than double — and it’s given the indie scene a valuable new outlet to get their work seen, played, and sold.
The Steam Greenlight site now bears almost zero resemblance to what launched a year ago. Back then, Greenlight looked like a hastily cobbled-together side project that someone through together without really thinking things through. Certainly, it wasn’t ready for the huge numbers of prospective titles and eager community members who smashed into it in the first few months.
Countless updates and several complete facelifts later, Greenlight looks all grown up.
It doesn’t hurt that dozens of games it championed have hit the market to prove out the entire concept. A few, like Guncraft and Papers, Please, have even won widespread media attention and a decent measure of acclaim.
But if Greenlight itself has rapidly evolved, one thing hasn’t changed: the pace. According to Valve, an average of four new submissions comes in every single day…a number that’s remained consistent since Day One. That’s roughly 1460 games, of which 237 have signed publishing agreements with Steam.
Those 237 got their chance thanks to the Steam community singling out and championing the titles that grabbed their attention.
“Ultimately our goal is to have no bottlenecks at all between developers and consumers,” said Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell in a released statement. “As we move closer to that, launching Greenlight and evolving our backend toolset has helped us increase our publishing throughput, pushing the number of independent titles released in the last twelve months to equal the number of titles published from all other categories combined.”
“We expect that number to grow dramatically as we continue to iterate upon our developer service features and seek more ways to improve Steam’s value to the community,” Newell added.
That seems fairly likely. Steam promoted 100 of those 237 greenlit games on the day before the program’s anniversary. That announcement came as part of a blog update announcing the time has come to stress-test the entire system. The developers of those 100 newly-added games were handed updated tools to push their games live and feedback forms to report back to Valve. That may well determine where Greenlight goes next, and given that 176 greenlit games have yet to ship, year two might be where we see the service accelerate its release schedule.
So even at the ripe old age of 1, Greenlight still has a lot of developmental milestones left to hit. And even more growing to do.