In case you haven't heard, the D.I.C.E Summit has been going on the last few days. A few days of the year, hundreds of the most talented and innovative developers, designers, publishers and other industry giants meet and talk about their favorite medium, games. Gabe Newell, founder of Valve, Steam and games like Half-Life, Portal, Counter Strike, Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead stole the show.
Upon the thousands of viewers, each and every single one of them was eager to find out what Gabe Newell had to say about the much-anticipated Half-Life 3 and the Steambox. Much to their disappointment, he didn't say a word. He did however touch up on some interesting things about Steam and Valve in general.
Gabe Newell isn't happy about Steam's approval system, calling it a "dictatorship." He also called the Steam store "boring." He really isn't happy. He made it abundantly clear during the DICE Summit that he aims to change that. How? Firstly, by scrapping Greenlight. For those of you who don't know, Greenlight is where up and coming developers can post their games up for approval. After the game is listed, it's up the community to vote it onto the store but ultimately, Valve has the ruling hand. This is where Gabe has a problem. Not only does he view it as a dictatorship but it's become more of a bottleneck. He stated that
"Greenlight is a bad example of an election process. We came to the conclusion pretty quickly that we could just do away with Greenlight completely, because it was a bottleneck rather than a way for people to communicate choice."
There were too many games in project Greenlight for Valve to handle. There is simply too much content coming their way and they can't manage to find the time to accommodate them all. So what's the solution? Network API's. Gabe wants to step away from the curated process they currently have. This means that pretty much anyone who wants to put their game on Steam is more than welcome to as long as the community decides it's worthwhile.
Gabe also seems fond of adopting this system to the Steam Store. The same store that Gabe himself called "boring." The idea that inspired this goes to the fan-frenzy that is Team Fortress hats. Thousands of hats roam Steam and almost all of them are made by the community. A community member can create his own hat and sell it on Steam. At one point, Pay Pal crashed because of the high number of transactions coming from the platform. Gabe had to assure them that they were buying and selling hats, not drugs. This same system will apply to the user-generated store. Where one developer can place all of his products in one environment.
I personally believe that the direction Steam is heading to is revolutionary. Never will developers have to struggle with exposure, promotion or awareness of their work. There are thousands of developers out there who struggle with it on a day-to-day basis. This won't only benefit the developers but the consumers as well. For example, I head over to developer X's store, I purchase a game and love it. I'll continually keep coming back for every game said developer makes because I'm familiar with their work and their level of production.
The same applies to mods. One modder can gather up all his work and put them all into one place. In addition to that, he'll be able to set a price and actually make a profit! However, with Steam's new openness comes a plethora of content. Some will be excellent and some will be horrible. I'm sure the diamonds in the rough will eventually find their way up and out of the clutter.
Valve already has an economy that's booming. With 55 million user across the world and over 2,500 titles, these guys know what they're doing. With Steam having five times the population of Greece, it still has less debt. Can you imagine what can happen when every user is entitled to their own business on Steam? It's going to be a gaming and economical revolution.