Steam Greenlight being undermined by cash for votes offers

Steam Greenlight being undermined by cash for votes offers

Steam Greenlight is a messy process; Valve’s imperfect way of ‘outsourcing’ game curation. The immediate benefit of this system is more games making their way to Steam. The down side is … that more games make their way to Steam. And the system is wide open for abuse.

Valve’s platform now has more than 10,000 games listed, and the rate at which they are appearing is quite astounding. Steam’s depths are awash with absolute garbage thanks to little to no quality control. Greenlight exists to let the community decide what’s worthy of a place on Steam, but it’s also open to blatant abuse. Such as unscrupulous users who are trying to make a fast buck from indie developers.

Today a Greenlight campaign launched for a new studio called Freesphere Entertainment, who are developing a new Unreal 4 game called Tether. Like so many indie studios they don’t have a publisher, so they have taken the plunge with a Greenlight campaign to get their game eventually listed on Steam. Members of the team have worked on games that have already been released on Steam, but they did not want to tie themselves to a publisher who would skin 30% off the top for some sub-standard marketing efforts. A risk, but potentially a wise decision.

A quick shot of Tether from Freesphere Entertainment.

Freesphere is now relying on the Steam community to get their game Greenlit, and that’s a gamble. They need votes in order to succeed.

Today, within hours of launching their campaign, Freesphere’s founder received messages from Steam accounts offering to sell up-votes for Tether. These users are using the Steam Greenlight system to profit from indie devs who are trying to get their game through the process. This is a real problem for indie devs and Steam users.

There’s a lot of rubbish that makes it through the Greenlight process, and this could be one of the reasons. For a fee, a Greenlight campaign can buy votes to help push the game through regardless of whether the community really wants it on Steam or not.

We have been sent the messages from Freesphere to show how these individuals are operating.

Steam greenlight


Steam greenlight

Simply put, these individuals are playing the system while at the same time making cash on the back of it. There’s a lot at stake for an indie studio when they commit to Greenlight. They really need to get their game through the process so it’s tempting to throw some cash at these offers.

A studio has to pay Valve £70.00 to get the game listed which Valve generously donate to the Child’s Play charity. But once the game is listed, indie devs become targets for individuals or groups looking to make a buck. If an indie dev was desperate enough they would likely toss a small amount of cash at offers like we see above.

Voting a game through Greenlight by paying for the votes makes a mockery of the whole process and it’s not good for consumers, and certainly not for Steam.

PC Invasion contacted Valve for comment and they did not reply. Shocking, I know.

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  • Paul Younger

    Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

    • Carson W

      What would Valve even be able to do about this? I’m a developer myself and had the same offers given to me. We just ignored them and hoped other developers had enough dignity to do the same, with a few exceptions.

      • MGregory666

        I think this is more to do with the Greenlight process dude. I think it needs a re-think from Valve as it’s wide open to abuse.

        • Paul Younger

          It’s simply playing the system for profit. The frustrating thing about it is the flooded market for Steam users. There is no way to tell if a game is actually worth making it through the process if votes are bought. Valve really need to rethink or ditch Greenlight.

          • Kaminsky Árpy

            We thought would come to the rescue, but they’re still struggling.

          • Lazerbeak @Grumpyboyold

            Greenlight has been a open joke for years anyway

    • Yule

      Yet the number of folowers they’ve on twitter can indeed make help a push. I know numbers can be faked on twitter but still…

    • Kaminsky Árpy

      Valve is in on this.
      It’s a for-profit company, guys.
      Steam was never about true democratization, it’s about money.

      • Paul Younger

        It’s fine for Valve to make money, just don’t put stupid systems in place that don’t work for the customer and the developer.

    • Lazerbeak @Grumpyboyold

      I could be wrong but I suspect Steam dont care, I lost faith in Steam after the gambling thing they knew what going on but didn’t do a thing until a huge fuss was made, Steam is just another huge Corporation that doesn’t give a fuck about morality just making money