Valve: We'll ensure Steam doesn't flood

Valve: We'll ensure Steam doesn't flood

By Rob Crossley

May 10th 2011 at 3:49PM

But the firm says it won't tighten submission standards, and calls for more indies

PC kingpin Valve is calling on more independent talent to submit their games to the digital platform Steam.

But Steam manager Jason Holtman said Valve would try to avoid flooding the digital games portal with new content.

“I think we’re now at about 1,700 games on Steam,” Holtman said in a new interview with Develop.

“We like to have lots of games on Steam but we’re careful about not flooding the market,” he added.

“We’re a software company, and we want to distribute software that has a chance to succeed. If we just try to commoditise, that would become a problem.”

Holtman said maintaining the value of the games on Steam is one of Valve’s priorities, though admitted a vastly growing catalogue of games is becoming a challenge.

“We have that Netflixian problem,” Holtman said.

“We have to expose great content and make sure none of it drowns. People need a good browsing experience.

Holtman’s comments come while the mobile games space is increasingly put under scrutiny for its oceanic levels of content.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently launched an extraordinary attack on the market, claiming that “game development is drowning” in the space. Too many are making mobile games at a low retail price for ecosystem to survive, he said.

Valve assures that it isn’t in a hurry to increase the number of games on Steam. The portal categorises games in a number of ways, through genre, to release date, to popularity levels.

“We have 1,700 games on the service, but we’re not eager to say next year we’ll have 5,000,” Holtman said.

“If you do that, because you’re looking to flood the market, I think you’re going to lose.”
 
How Valve will save Steam from flooding is uncertain. Holtman insisted Valve won’t restrict the number of titles available on the platform.

“I don’t think we’re going to be harder on submissions,” he said.

“We’ve always been open to take a look at anyone’s game. We always love being surprised by the amazing things we find.”

CALL FOR INDIES


While Holtman assured that Steam wouldn’t overbear customers with content, he was still keen to call for more developers to join the platform. Particularly indies.

“We love to have conversations with indie developers, and we can provide a channel that they have a good chance of succeeding on,” he said.

Steam has over thirty million registered customers, and is independently estimated to hold more than seventy per cent of the PC digital download market.

Holtman’s said indie talent looking to release games should get in touch.

“We’re not ignorant of why indie games are a success in the first place, of course. We know they’re a success because they’re very fun.

“Mind you, sometimes we make mistakes with our submissions process. We’re not perfect. Usually we’ll have a group of about eight to ten people looking at all the different submissions we get.

“Sometimes we’ll think a game doesn’t fit, and a month later we’ll get a mail from a disgruntled developer saying ‘this is what you said, and this is how many thousands and thousands of copies of my game I have sold since you said that’.

“But we’re always looking for the same thing: Is it fun? Is it done? Does it represent value? I don’t think that we’re going to change those rules.”

THE VALVE MANIFESTO

Valve’s comments are drawn from a new six-page feature in Develop magazine issue 116 (which arrives at games studios and on doormats from today).

The feature draws from interviews with ten key staff at the company. It is available online now, and throughout the rest of the week Develop will publish five separate Q&As with key studio staff.