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Valve's Newell on tearing down the Steam "dictatorship"

Newell wants Steam to be more open with increased user input

Though Valve's Steam online retail service is currently the market leader, Valve founder Gabe Newell has a lengthy list of changes in store. In a talk at the University of Texas, Newell outlined a Steam more controlled by users than by Valve itself. Possible changes to the service include scrapping the current approval process, killing Steam Greenlight, and opening the storefront to more user-generated content.

"One of the worst characteristics of the current Steam system is that we've become a bottleneck. There's so much content coming at us that we just don't have enough time to turn the crank on the production process of getting something up on Steam. So whether we want to or not, we're creating artificial shelf space scarcity," explained Newell, according to a report by Gamasutra.

"Right now we have inside of Steam we have a dictatorship It's probably bad for the Steam community, in the long run, not to move to a different way of thinking about that. In other words, we should stop being a dictator and move towards much more participatory, peer-based methods of sanctioning player behavior," he said.

Newell wants to turn Steam into a distribution service that any person can use. Newell's idea for the future Steam includes user-driven curation on the storefront.

"So the right way to do that is to make Steam essentially a network API that anyone can call. Essentially, it's like, anyone can use Steam as a sort of a distribution and replication mechanism," said Newell.

"It's not us making a decision about what should or shouldn't be available. It's just, you want to use this distribution facility? It's there. And customers decide which things actually end up being pulled through. So Steam should stop being a curated process and start becoming a networking API."

"The stores instead should become user-generated content. If a user can create his own store -- essentially add an editorial perspective and content on top of the purchase process -- then we've created a mechanism where everybody, in the same way we've seen a huge upsurge of user-generated content with hats, we think that there's a lot of aggregate value that can be created by allowing people to create stores."

Steam Greenlight was meant to put the power in the hands of users, but Newell admits the current implementation is working out.

"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," he said.

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Latest comments (13)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
A tip: Stop overthinking and copy the App Store. In every way apart from the long-winded approval process. Job done.
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Urs Schaub 3D modeller AA 3 years ago
i don't think so, the app store is very far from perfect.
why do so many people think that everything apple sh..ts to the ground is made out of gold?

greenlight isnt good agreed...but the idea with user generated content is good and valve can make money out of it(as apple does also with their store..

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Urs Schaub on 7th February 2013 3:40pm

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
How many apps have you published on the app store again?
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Show all comments (13)
Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 3 years ago
If you're going start out making a publishing empire, shouldn't you go all the way? Walk the walk and all that? If it requires another thousand employees, and a clearer structure to management in order to make it happen, then...

Personally, I don't care for democracy in art. It was either Flannery O'Connor or Dorothy Parker who said democracy is a great form of government, but a lousy way to create. We need someone who wants to be at the helm - and a person, not some techno-process.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 7th February 2013 5:07pm

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James Battersby Developer, Blue Beck3 years ago
Whatever they do, it needs to be easy to find new, trending and popular apps well. No store does this well at the moment.

They also need to be more transparent and effective rating system: partly to better separate the good from the chaff but also to give good games a better chance and being seen, not just the well funded ones.
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Loris Rio Marketing Assistant, Riot Games3 years ago
Am I the only one thinking that Valve is seeing the opportunity of users "doing their job" basically?

-> Hey User, "create your own store" : Users are doing the marketing for them and generating "marketing" content for them, in the end helping to sell more games (so better for Valve)

-> Hey User, "go and create your own content so you can sell it on our plateform" : I make people happy by telling them they can sell their stuff while I, Valve, doesn't have to produce the content myself (but I still make money out of the content created by users).

Don't get me wrong, I think it's brilliant!! Users generate the content, users market the games and themselves, and Valve is just here to cash in on everything.
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J S Artist 3 years ago
Rrrrgh. I love this man!
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 3 years ago
I hope they will have some ground rules and will act like mediators/moderators since giving full control to the people is such a bad idea. Sadly it's the case of "the minority of bad people ruin it for the majority of good people" but on Greenlight I already saw a few games that were getting thumbed up because they literally ripped off other games or combined the assets of two games into one.

Fair enough if they generate their content from the ground up, that's great but there still needs to be some boundaries in place for the idiots that will steal and think they will get away with it.

It will also be interesting to see if Valve also do anything to allow people to trade their owned games since they and other digital platform owners have come under fire due to the new EU legislation that states that digital platform owners cannot prevent someone from relinquishing their rights to a game and selling it, I wonder if that is where they will be going next with the marketplace.
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Jess Kappeler Senior Game Designer, Pipeworks Studio3 years ago
I own approximately 3 games on the app store. I own 200+ games on steam. Personally I believe steam is already light years ahead of the app store...copying it would be a step back instead of a step forward.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 3 years ago
Ah yes. The ad hominem attack. Very good comeback. Good strategery there.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
As usual, the "attack" is completely misunderstood, we must be on the internet.

The subject in question here is from the perspective of the developers, not the customers. If anyone here genuinely believes that Steam, Google Play, XBLA or any of the others is easier to get an app on and put on sale then you must be mad.
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Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London3 years ago
I love Gabe as much as the next person but thread carefully if opening the gates to all the users, there's a difference between (more) liberty and libertinism.
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Roberto Bruno Curious Person 3 years ago
@Paul Johnson: How many games have you published on Steam again?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roberto Bruno on 9th February 2013 2:45am

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