Vlambeer's Rami Ismail speculates on Steam's future, Greenlight's death

Emanuel Maiberg at

Valve’s Steam Dev Days, a two-day developer’s conference in Seattle, will kick off this Thursday, and Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail has some pretty radical speculations on announcements Valve might make at the event. Even if he’s completely wrong, it’s still an interesting perspective on the Steam platform and the business of independent game development.

Ismail’s opinion is that Valve is going to use the event to communicate to developers important changes to Steam. He makes the safe bet that Valve will spend a lot of time discussing Steam Machines, but more interesting is his skepticism about the future of Greenlight.

“The other thing I think is going to happen—I’m not sure—is that they are killing Greenlight,” he told Gamekings.TV.

“I’m thinking that because they've been clearing the queue at such a rapid rate. They've been clearing 100 games every month. . .You don’t do that because there are 100 good games on Greenlight every month. You do that because you want to get rid of everything that isn't greenlit before you kill it, so you don’t upset developers.”

Instead, Ismail says, Valve will let anyone put their games up on Steam. As he correctly points out, that then exacerbates the discoverability problem, which has been well established on Google Play and the iTunes App Store. Those digital storefronts are packed with so many apps and games, it’s hard for even very polished products to get any kind of attention. As app analytics platform Distimo makes clear, being featured on the iTunes App Store makes a huge (HUGE) difference.

At the moment, this is not as big of a problem on Steam, though other indiedevelopers have already revealed what a huge difference it makes to be featured in a Steam sale. If Valve opens the floodgates, Steam will become more like the iTunes App Store and make it much harder for everyone to get noticed.

Valve’s solution, Ismail thinks, will be peer-to-peer recommendations. Steam already has features related to this, allowing you to see what your friends buy, play, and review, and a chart of the most popular games worldwide. The next step, Ismail believes, is to allow users to have their own stores. He describes something similar to Amazon Associates program, which lets you earn a cut of Amazon purchases users made through your website.

“If they go as far as I hope they will, they will also allow people to earn a little percentage of the games sold through their store. That will make things really interesting.”

“Really interesting” is an understatement, if Ismail's predictions pan out.