The curation of online gaming platforms has always been a topic in the background of the gaming community. Platforms like Steam, GOG.com and Itch.io have huge influence over which games get seen and adopted by the community, so their processes for deciding what will make it to their site and what will be kept away has always faced some scrutiny from gamers.
Just a couple of months ago GOG.com came under fire for denying a well-built puzzle game from a talented and proven developer from posting on their platform. The story was made more inflammatory by the fact that initially they refused to comment on exactly why they had rejected the game, wanting to protect their curation process. Eventually, they did reverse their decision and the game is now available on their site.
Perhaps in an attempt to avoid this type of drama regarding their own selection methodology, Itch.io has come out with a blog post detailing their curation process from start to finish. In their words, they wanted to “lift the curtain” and help fans understand how they make their decisions.
Though they do use bots for some smaller tasks like recommending more games to players based on what they have played previously, they don’t ever intend to replace their human decisions with computers. They speculate that using computers over people to curate content generally leads to the most profitable games being the ones that get the most attention, leaving excellent but under appreciated games out of the lime-light.
“We’re proud to recommend games we think are interesting to the itch.io community and we’re constantly updating the front page so that there’s something new whenever you come back to the site. Is it a lot of work? Yeah. Is it worth it? We think so.”
Besides robots and human curators, Itch.io also makes use of its community to find the best of their content. Their Fresh Games section recommends game that have been featured in multiple user’s collections, another interesting way to determine what players are responding to.
Finding the right balance of careful curation and overly cautious denial will likely remain a topic of discussion for the foreseeable future, with gamers falling on all parts of the spectrum. Neither humans nor algorithms make perfect decisions every time, so perhaps the answer lies somewhere between, making use of the strengths of both strategies.