Team Fortress 2, otherwise known as the world’s finest ‘war-themed hat simulator’, has been bemoaned by some for its focus on vanity items. However, beneath the silly hats is a robust, community-driven framework that has now been cited as an inspiration behind the recently announced Steam Greenlight.
During a session at Develop (attended by PC Gamer), Valve‘s business development director Jason Holtman linked the community creations surrounding the TF2 blog, and then the Mann-conomy update, to the genesis of their latest project:
“If the content team hadn’t been involved in this activity , including things such as blogposts, it would have sucked. We had customer involvement too. Hey: why don’t you make propaganda posters. That would be fun. People went crazy. They created all this content that started to get consumed as part of the war update. It was the first inkling of what we’re thinking about now [with Greenlight]. Getting customers involved in the business.”
Holtman also vaguely outlined the problems with the soon to be replaced approval system:
“We had a problem of how do we filter the large number of new indie games out there and put the best ones on Steam. We also didn’t have the ability to encourage people during development.”
I’m excited to see what will come from this community-driven approval process when it releases in late August. Valve have proven themselves, with projects like the Steam Workshop, to be adept at creating tools that allow the community’s creativity to thrive – now we just have to wait and see if this can be harnessed for a more practical purpose.