The service hasn't even been live for a week and Valve's Steam Greenlight project, a new community service that enables gamers to vote on the projects they want to see on Steam, has been pelted by trolls, griefers and noobs all trying to get a few “lulz” out of it. Realistically, these trolls are ruining an otherwise superb service for game makers and Valve needs to crack down on them hard.
For those of you who don't know, a lot of small developers have a hard time trying to get their game(s) exposed. They don't have marketing budgets like Activision or EA -- who sometimes spend upwards of $100 million for the latest blockbuster -- and they don't always have the proper connections to get the game on retail shelves due to the cost of manufacturing and production.
Indie devs usually have to rely on word of mouth or working devilishly hard to convince digital distributors to host their game. Of course, there's a lot of developers out there trying to get their game(s) noticed on popular digital distribution portals; there's usually a long line of titles that distribution overseers completely overlook for long periods of time due to so many games requiring certification and approval for distribution.
To help indie devs and smaller studios get their games noticed, Valve started an awesome new community feature for their digital distribution service called the Steam Greenlight. This enables anyone to upload a game and based on votes, favorites and impressions, the game might make it onto Steam's store. Some of these projects include Redcrowd Mysteries, Sang-Froid, Miasmata, Routine, Project Zomboid and No More Room In Hell to name a few.
Quite naturally, while a ton of cool looking games made it onto the list, a lot of other games have also flooded the Greenlight page, mostly from trolls and griefers just trying to get an “lulz” out of the community, such as submissions for things like Half-Life 3, Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3 and tons of other 4Chan quality submissions.
Now, the upside is that Valve has been very vigilant and timely with removing troll posts. Aiming to keep the page as clean and as efficient as possible, but at the same time there's still lots of trolls just trying to...well, troll.
The Greenlight project is a great way for developers with unique, interesting or awesome game ideas to get their projects discovered and distributed to a wide audience. With the trolls flooding the service constantly, it actually spawned quite a bit of discussion about how this problem can be fixed.
Some of the developers took to the forums to suggest things like a barrier of entry, including a small publishing fee for each project posted between $10 and $100, this way trolls will literally have to pay out of their own pockets for a few “lulz”. This has been a widely accepted approach for fixing the problem.
Another solution would be perma-banning offenders. While it's cool to troll on forum boards and social aggregators, the trolling should stay there. The Greenlight project is for people who have games that they want to get out there to the public, not a message board for game memes and goof-offs.
Submitting fake, purposefully bad or just troll-worthy games to rile up the community simply does not belong on the Greenlight service. There are a ton of games that gamers would like to know about or vote for, and having those games drowned out by trolls creates a vastly unhealthy atmosphere for the games that gamers would like to play and the games that developers would like gamers to play.
While there are some debates about the severity of perma-bans, the reality is that if someone is trolling the Greenlight page with fake submissions, it's pretty much 100% unlikely that they plan to get serious and submit a real game at any point. A profile that no longer has privileges to the Greenlight page prevents trolls from false reporting on legitimate games for the “lulz” as well as preventing them from falsely submitting games for the for the “lulz”, such as Scimitar, pictured above. It's pretty much guaranteed that a troll with too much time on their hands will get right back to trolling after the standard one-week ban.
I think Valve has done a magnificent job so far providing gamers and game developers alike with an excellent platform for exposing the community to high-quality indie titles we never would have heard of otherwise, I think there still needs to be a stricter form of policing the service so that gamers and developers alike can focus on voting for and submitting games that the community at large would like to play.
You can learn more about the Steam Greenlight on the Official Website.