Valve on why Greenlight exists: “I dare you to see a proposal for Minecraft and go YES.”

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Speaking at the Develop Conference, Valve’s Jason Holtman explained some of the thinking behind the announcement of Steam Greenlight – a channel for indie devs to get their games on Steam. “We had a huge business problem inside Steam of getting through the thousands of indie games. There’s very little information and/or historical data on each game. I dare any of you to see a proposal for Minecraft and go ‘YES’.”

Valve’s problem: there were around 10-12 people looking at new games, but they just couldn’t keep up with submissions. And the same team simply couldn’t give advice. “People come to us and go, ‘I’m here, what do I do now?’ We don’t like saying things because we might be wrong.”

Meanwhile, Valve weren’t certain that they would find the right games. “It it was just left to us, we wouldn’t find the right things, ship the right things, find the diamonds in the rough.”
The solution had to involve the community. With the help of the TF2 and Portal teams, Valve took elements of the Steam Workshop to build Steam Greenlight.The hope is that it will encourage a virtuous development cycle – “people looking at the games going ‘oh my gosh, I really want that.’”
Jason also points out how important it is for developers to find their audience. “Fandom is important. As a dev, you want to find your fans.” The hope, Valve have, is that Greenlight will cement the link between devs and the community. “It will be fun to be a fan. People will want to be a fan.”