One question Shawn (the chief of modinformer.net) asked during the interview he conducted with Phillip and I (available here) was in the line of: “How do you think the Portal 2’s Perpetual Testing Initiative will affect map sites like PlanetPhillip.com?”
I was caught off-guard. I didn’t have a proper look at what P2PI (short for Portal 2’s Perpetual Testing Initiative) means. My answer was more on the line of “not too worried, people looking for quality and for a well reviewed map will end up on PlanetPhillip.com eventually”.
Thing is, there is a threat element, low at the moment, but still, present.
You see, P2PPI is the name for the toolkit that Valve released for Portal 2. It makes it very easy to make maps (a good thing) and it makes it very easy to publish them through Steam Workshop.
And it is the Steam Workshop that is the threat, not the toolkit itself. So I opened up the browser, and looked at the list of maps available for Portal 2, looking for well articulate descriptions and, if any, reviews. Guess what: in my quick search (about 10 maps from the top favorites), none had a description longer than 200 words. As for reviews, let’s be serious, the community is more interested in playing rather than reviewing.
To me this is weird. I mean the tools for writing reviews (a darned editor to post a comment) is there, but nobody bothers writing them. This places PlanetPhillip.com in a privileged position, of still being top dog in terms of reviewing custom maps. For people who like to read a review first then decide to play the map, PlanetPhillip.com is still the place to go.
However, there is still a good number of people who just download maps based on just the rating it has, and they will favor the workshop.
Here’s the thing though: I think that those people would have downloaded maps from filefront ot whatever other file sharing site rather than from PlanetPhillip.com
So the threat, as I see it, does not consist in the Steam Workshop stealing visitors from PlanetPhillip.com, but rather in making it more difficult for Phillip to gain more users. There is always the danger that Steam will hire a couple of people to do reviews for those maps, and publish them alongside the original description of the map. Now THAT would spell bad news for Phillip.