Valve tells developers to stop offering game keys for Greenlight votes

Steam Greenlight

[Update: Valve has confirmed that the message asking developers to stop offering game keys for Greenlight votes is legitimate.]

Original story:

So you've got a game on Steam Greenlight, but it's not pulling in a lot of votes, and its progress up the ladder has stalled. What to do? One option is to offer a deal: free game keys in return for votes. Think that sounds sketchy? You're not the only one.

Valve posted a message yesterday saying the matter has been coming up with increasing frequency, to the point that it needs to be addressed. The message originally went up on a developers-only page, but a screen capture was posted on Twitter by the Steam Database.

"When you give away copies of your game in exchange for votes, you put us in a really uncomfortable position. We do not think these votes accurately reflect customer interest and it makes our job harder in deciding which games customers would actually buy and play on Steam," the message says.

"Additionally, when you give away copies of your game for votes, then every other developer on Greenlight thinks that is now the thing they need to do in order to get noticed," it continues. "We don't think that is healthy for the system or really what customers want."

It's no secret that Greenlight is a flawed process, as are just about any that rely on the internet voting. But Valve has the final say on which games are selected, and it warned that it will use that power to discourage the keys-for-votes practice.

"This is something we continue to take into account when evaluating titles to be Greenlit," the message concludes. "The result is that it may take significantly longer for your title to get Greenlit, as it is much more work for us to try and understand customer interest in a title that has collected some unknown number of votes in this manner."

We've reached out to Valve to confirm that the message is legitimate, but there's no question it addresses a legitimate concern: Flawed or not, Greenlight serves a purpose, and subverting that purpose by gaming the system (which, to be fair, you can hardly blame game designers for doing) does no one any good.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.