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Developers Mixed on Greenlight's $100 Submission Fee

Some of the developers behind McPixel, Super Meat Boy, I Wanna Be the Guy, Antichamber, Proteus, and AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA discuss Valve's controversial decision, and what it means for the future of the service.

Not everything Valve touches turns to gold, so proveth the rocky launch for Steam Greenlight, and the ensuing response to the big changes Valve has made to its independent-focused service just a few days after launching.

The change that’s caused the most discussion and raised exasperation is a new requirement for submission: pay $100 for the potential opportunity to become part of the Steam marketplace. It’s a chance, not a guarantee, and Valve’s tried to block some criticism by promising to send every payment to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity.

The requirement was prompted by a slew of junk submissions, including fake version of Half-Life 3.

Greenlight is a new Steam initiative to ostensibly help games from falling through the cracks.

“Two things we’ve noticed so far,” said Valve in a blog post. “First, there are a ton of legitimate submissions that people want to see. Second, there is unfortunately a significant amount of noise and clutter being submitted, either as a joke or by fans not fully understanding the purpose of Greenlight.”

Greenlight is meant to curb an increasing problem for Steam. The company cannot realistically judge every game that’s submitted for consideration, and decided to enlist the community for help to ensure games deserving of a spot don't slip through the cracks. I’ve heard from frustrated developers over the years upset at receiving little to no feedback from Steam after being rejected, and Greenlight is (in theory) meant to keep those examples to a minimum. Or, at the least, reduce it.

The change does not impact games already been submitted, and is required once per developer, not per game.

Developers I’ve spoken to since the change occurred have expressed decidedly porlaized opinions.

“It's good they are doing this, it keeps the flow of games down to people who are serious about their work,” said Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac co-creator Edmund McMillen. “It's $100 to enter into the IGF [Independent Games Festival], I did this for years [and] only made it in 30% of the time. You should only put your stuff on Greenlight if you believe you have a realistic chance of getting those votes, the 100$ charge makes that a very clear barrier of entry. Same goes for the IGF.”

Michael “Kayin” O’Reilly, better known as the creator of the sadistic I Wanna Be the Guy, is working on a game for submission into Greenlight. He’s not so sure Valve’s quick decision to charge $100 for a Greenlight listing was the best way to solve its problems.

“If we're talking about a service that's meant to try and manage small indie games, is the best way to try and charge money from a group of traditionally poor people?” said O’Reilly. “It is -a- limiting measure, but is it the best one? [...] if Valve was pocketing the 100 dollars, I think we'd have to accept that this is a part of business, but clearly this is a situation where there are a lot more possible solutions that can possibly benefit Steam more in the long run.”

I Wanna Be the Guy's creator is still considering Greenlight, despite the issues he has with it.

O’Reilly said Valve should have implemented less drastic measures to tweak the service to avoid this reaction, and would be “exceptionally surprised” if the $100 requirement sticks around. That Valve didn't introduce the $100 fee with other substantive changes struck him as odd and reactionary.

“The 100 dollar fee isn't meant to necessarily stop games that may or may not succeed, it's meant to stop junk entries or REALLY low quality entries,” he said. “So it's tough. Greenlight was supposed to reduce a lot of the risk and frustration of dealing with Steam, so it's really sorta hurting itself by making it seem less inviting. I think alternative ways of getting on the services is it's best bet. A bigger budget game will probably just drop the 100 bucks, while smaller games might use other methods.”

McPixel designer Sos Sosowski was part of Greenlight’s beta, and sympathized with Valve’s plight. It did, however, prompt mixed feelings about the difference between going through Steam’s regular submission process and rolling the dice with an active community of users on Greenlight.

“It struck me that anyone can submit a game just like that in the very beginning, but I was sure that it's going to be well managed and under control,” said Sosowki. “Valve got disillusioned quickly and got reminded what the internet is.”

“I think that the fee made the Greenlight service redundant as soon as it was introduced,” he continued. “If there was a fee for the standard submission process, where Valve team reviewed each game, Greenlight would not be needed at all. So now that the fee is introduced, and only people that are serious about it and want to invest this much are allowed in, Valve could easily manage to look over all the submissions as they appear and make their picks. I don't agree that paying for ‘maybe’ getting onto Steam service is wrong. I'm saying paying to get onto Greenlight makes it redundant.”

It’s been less than a week since Greenlight launched, though, and the $100 requirement is a rather huge change in philosophy after a few days of content submissions. Proteus designer Ed Key is puzzled at the move.

Key proposed a two-step renovation. There would be a pre-Greenlight listing phase, in which the community would help filter out the crap, and avoid having the front page overrun. It would create another layer between what the general public sees on Greenlight and power users. Given the fiery reaction to the $100 requirement, Key suggested Valve start offering free Greenlight listings to nominees and finalists in the big festivals. I wouldn’t mind seeing popular Ludum Dare entries given the opportunity to submit sans requirement, either. Outreach could be key.

“I'm a bit worried the $100 will further skew the balance towards safe commercial games rather than games that could find an audience once on a major platform,” said Key. “[...] Big kudos to Valve for updating the system and being so agile, but charging a fee just seems like the 'nuclear option' at this early stage.”

Here's how Greenlight look on my Steam client, as Valve tries to push the good stuff to the top.

Alexander Bruce is the pink-suited designer of the hopefully-almost-done puzzler Antichamber, and cautioned against developers anxious over Greenlight’s changes, and to consider all available options.

“Several people have pointed out that there are talented people out there who live day to day who would not be able to afford the $100 fee,” said Bruce. “I don't understand this argument, because even without the fee in place, there's no guarantees that those developers would get their game on Steam in the first place. So they're either relying on their game being on Steam to support themselves, which Greenlight isn't offering in the first place, or they are able to support themselves independently and should be able to find a time somewhere when paying the fee would be reasonable.”

Bruce suggested developers stressing over the $100 should stop thinking Steam as the center of the universe. Maybe put Steam on the sideline, and focus on launching the game elsewhere. Games like QUBE and Offspring Fling have used pre-Steam launches to build word-of-mouth. With enough buzz, it may even be possible to avoid the Greenlight process entirely, and even if that’s not possible, the outside reaction should help your cause on Greenlight itself.

“If by going through these methods you're unable to find an audience to give you $100 for a Greenlight submission,” said Bruce, “I’m not sure what makes you think that your situation is going to be any different once you actually have your game on Greenlight and then need to drum up enough support to get it noticed by Valve.”

The developers of AaaAaaaAa are avoiding taking a stance, while also sorta taking a stance.

If the $100 requirement does remain a permanent fixture of Greenlight, some will help shoulder the burden. AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA developer Dejobaan Games is running a contest of sorts to loan $100 to a creator. Nicalis, responsible for helping bring Cave Story, La-Mulana and NightSky to places outside Japan, is also offering up $100 to three developers.

Both Dejobaan and Nicalis said the idea isn’t about whether the fee is a good or bad idea.

“I don't have the foresight to see how all of this will play out,” said Dejobaan president and co-founder Ichiro Lambe. “Will it help highlight new and wonderful games? Will it keep potentially great titles out? I think we'll find out over time. Who gives two rat's asses about my stance on this?”

“The folks I've met from Valve genuinely want the industry to be a better place for small developers, so I'd like to see more of 'em on that platform," he said. "If I can help a ramen-eating dev team submit a great game--and encourage other successful indie devs to do the same--then we're indies at our best. If it means that that great game gets a chance to sell on Steam, fantastic. And you know what? The worst that comes out of this is that my $100 goes to a charity that uses video games help kids cope with illness.”

[Photo courtesy of Stephan Geyer.]

Patrick Klepek on Google+
302 Comments
Posted by patrickklepek

Not everything Valve touches turns to gold, so proveth the rocky launch for Steam Greenlight, and the ensuing response to the big changes Valve has made to its independent-focused service just a few days after launching.

The change that’s caused the most discussion and raised exasperation is a new requirement for submission: pay $100 for the potential opportunity to become part of the Steam marketplace. It’s a chance, not a guarantee, and Valve’s tried to block some criticism by promising to send every payment to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity.

The requirement was prompted by a slew of junk submissions, including fake version of Half-Life 3.

Greenlight is a new Steam initiative to ostensibly help games from falling through the cracks.

“Two things we’ve noticed so far,” said Valve in a blog post. “First, there are a ton of legitimate submissions that people want to see. Second, there is unfortunately a significant amount of noise and clutter being submitted, either as a joke or by fans not fully understanding the purpose of Greenlight.”

Greenlight is meant to curb an increasing problem for Steam. The company cannot realistically judge every game that’s submitted for consideration, and decided to enlist the community for help to ensure games deserving of a spot don't slip through the cracks. I’ve heard from frustrated developers over the years upset at receiving little to no feedback from Steam after being rejected, and Greenlight is (in theory) meant to keep those examples to a minimum. Or, at the least, reduce it.

The change does not impact games already been submitted, and is required once per developer, not per game.

Developers I’ve spoken to since the change occurred have expressed decidedly porlaized opinions.

“It's good they are doing this, it keeps the flow of games down to people who are serious about their work,” said Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac co-creator Edmund McMillen. “It's $100 to enter into the IGF [Independent Games Festival], I did this for years [and] only made it in 30% of the time. You should only put your stuff on Greenlight if you believe you have a realistic chance of getting those votes, the 100$ charge makes that a very clear barrier of entry. Same goes for the IGF.”

Michael “Kayin” O’Reilly, better known as the creator of the sadistic I Wanna Be the Guy, is working on a game for submission into Greenlight. He’s not so sure Valve’s quick decision to charge $100 for a Greenlight listing was the best way to solve its problems.

“If we're talking about a service that's meant to try and manage small indie games, is the best way to try and charge money from a group of traditionally poor people?” said O’Reilly. “It is -a- limiting measure, but is it the best one? [...] if Valve was pocketing the 100 dollars, I think we'd have to accept that this is a part of business, but clearly this is a situation where there are a lot more possible solutions that can possibly benefit Steam more in the long run.”

I Wanna Be the Guy's creator is still considering Greenlight, despite the issues he has with it.

O’Reilly said Valve should have implemented less drastic measures to tweak the service to avoid this reaction, and would be “exceptionally surprised” if the $100 requirement sticks around. That Valve didn't introduce the $100 fee with other substantive changes struck him as odd and reactionary.

“The 100 dollar fee isn't meant to necessarily stop games that may or may not succeed, it's meant to stop junk entries or REALLY low quality entries,” he said. “So it's tough. Greenlight was supposed to reduce a lot of the risk and frustration of dealing with Steam, so it's really sorta hurting itself by making it seem less inviting. I think alternative ways of getting on the services is it's best bet. A bigger budget game will probably just drop the 100 bucks, while smaller games might use other methods.”

McPixel designer Sos Sosowski was part of Greenlight’s beta, and sympathized with Valve’s plight. It did, however, prompt mixed feelings about the difference between going through Steam’s regular submission process and rolling the dice with an active community of users on Greenlight.

“It struck me that anyone can submit a game just like that in the very beginning, but I was sure that it's going to be well managed and under control,” said Sosowki. “Valve got disillusioned quickly and got reminded what the internet is.”

“I think that the fee made the Greenlight service redundant as soon as it was introduced,” he continued. “If there was a fee for the standard submission process, where Valve team reviewed each game, Greenlight would not be needed at all. So now that the fee is introduced, and only people that are serious about it and want to invest this much are allowed in, Valve could easily manage to look over all the submissions as they appear and make their picks. I don't agree that paying for ‘maybe’ getting onto Steam service is wrong. I'm saying paying to get onto Greenlight makes it redundant.”

It’s been less than a week since Greenlight launched, though, and the $100 requirement is a rather huge change in philosophy after a few days of content submissions. Proteus designer Ed Key is puzzled at the move.

Key proposed a two-step renovation. There would be a pre-Greenlight listing phase, in which the community would help filter out the crap, and avoid having the front page overrun. It would create another layer between what the general public sees on Greenlight and power users. Given the fiery reaction to the $100 requirement, Key suggested Valve start offering free Greenlight listings to nominees and finalists in the big festivals. I wouldn’t mind seeing popular Ludum Dare entries given the opportunity to submit sans requirement, either. Outreach could be key.

“I'm a bit worried the $100 will further skew the balance towards safe commercial games rather than games that could find an audience once on a major platform,” said Key. “[...] Big kudos to Valve for updating the system and being so agile, but charging a fee just seems like the 'nuclear option' at this early stage.”

Here's how Greenlight look on my Steam client, as Valve tries to push the good stuff to the top.

Alexander Bruce is the pink-suited designer of the hopefully-almost-done puzzler Antichamber, and cautioned against developers anxious over Greenlight’s changes, and to consider all available options.

“Several people have pointed out that there are talented people out there who live day to day who would not be able to afford the $100 fee,” said Bruce. “I don't understand this argument, because even without the fee in place, there's no guarantees that those developers would get their game on Steam in the first place. So they're either relying on their game being on Steam to support themselves, which Greenlight isn't offering in the first place, or they are able to support themselves independently and should be able to find a time somewhere when paying the fee would be reasonable.”

Bruce suggested developers stressing over the $100 should stop thinking Steam as the center of the universe. Maybe put Steam on the sideline, and focus on launching the game elsewhere. Games like QUBE and Offspring Fling have used pre-Steam launches to build word-of-mouth. With enough buzz, it may even be possible to avoid the Greenlight process entirely, and even if that’s not possible, the outside reaction should help your cause on Greenlight itself.

“If by going through these methods you're unable to find an audience to give you $100 for a Greenlight submission,” said Bruce, “I’m not sure what makes you think that your situation is going to be any different once you actually have your game on Greenlight and then need to drum up enough support to get it noticed by Valve.”

The developers of AaaAaaaAa are avoiding taking a stance, while also sorta taking a stance.

If the $100 requirement does remain a permanent fixture of Greenlight, some will help shoulder the burden. AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA developer Dejobaan Games is running a contest of sorts to loan $100 to a creator. Nicalis, responsible for helping bring Cave Story, La-Mulana and NightSky to places outside Japan, is also offering up $100 to three developers.

Both Dejobaan and Nicalis said the idea isn’t about whether the fee is a good or bad idea.

“I don't have the foresight to see how all of this will play out,” said Dejobaan president and co-founder Ichiro Lambe. “Will it help highlight new and wonderful games? Will it keep potentially great titles out? I think we'll find out over time. Who gives two rat's asses about my stance on this?”

“The folks I've met from Valve genuinely want the industry to be a better place for small developers, so I'd like to see more of 'em on that platform," he said. "If I can help a ramen-eating dev team submit a great game--and encourage other successful indie devs to do the same--then we're indies at our best. If it means that that great game gets a chance to sell on Steam, fantastic. And you know what? The worst that comes out of this is that my $100 goes to a charity that uses video games help kids cope with illness.”

[Photo courtesy of Stephan Geyer.]

Staff
Posted by wumbo3000

Wow, these game titles are insane. AAAaaaaAAAaaaAAA?

Posted by simpsonsfan

wow.

Posted by Chemin

$100 is not really the end of the world to promote your game I find. Sure, basement developers are broke as hell, but, still.

Posted by phrosnite

I think the fee is a great idea because it will lower the about of shit that gets put up there. Not to mention that the money goes to charity.

Posted by jmic75

I'm for it, not a very high bar to entry but at least I won't have to wade through BS entries like a PC version of Turok the dinosaur hunter from some random guy.

Posted by Bartz

I don't see why they couldn't just make the $100 a deposit of some sort instead of a fee.

Posted by DrRandle

"hurting it's self by making"

Nnarryaryryghghgharhrhgh.

Posted by Dezztroy

"Waaahhh, I'm a poor indie developer and I can't afford a marketing budget of $100, waaahhhh."
 
Please. If you can't afford to spend $100 to show your game to millions of gamers, then maybe your game shouldn't be on Steam in the first place?

Posted by Cogzwell

Well if you saw Greenlight the day it came out... it was just a pure cess pit with nothing worth supporting.

Posted by HadesTimes

As someone who has tried to sift through these to rate them up or not. I appreciate that we will be getting away from the crap that keeps popping up. I'm not talking about bad games. I'm talking about people posting the same copied thing over and over hoping to fool people into rating it up.

Posted by Phatmac

I'm all for the $100 solution right now. The problem for me is that it's hard to search for any interesting game right now as most are Minecraft clones, zombie games, and 2D platformers. I've only noticed a couple of games that look interesting to me which is disappointing considering that Greenlight is in the limelight(excuse the pun) and should be showing what it's made of. I hope better games are given the attention that they deserve. Game devs should be ready to sacrifice money for their games as the game dev journey is rather costly. Here's hoping that Greenlight picks up its act as I love the idea in concept.

Edited by ThatPrimeGuy

If a entry fee of $100 keeps all the idiots making Slender Man and Minecraft clones trying to make a quick buck out of it I'm perfectly fine with that. $100 is chump change even to an indie studio. If it keeps the "Hurr Imma clone minecraft and make a gorillian dollars" idiots out then good for it. Kickstarter should implement something similar.

Gotta spend money to make money.

EDIT:

Actually let me further reiterate on this. Here's the thing. $100 is small enough of an amount that anyone who is actually committed to making a game will spend it in a heart beat, but keeps people who aren't very committed to it from flooding Greenlight. If someone is on Greenlight I would fucking hope they're willing to commit AT THE VERY LEAST $100 for the chance.

If I'm going to vote for something on Greenlight I would hope the studio is actually interested in doing it enough that they would consider $100 a worthwhile investment. Should it be any higher than that? Hell no. But it should be there and it should be what it is.

Posted by MeatSim

I like that the description header for this article has AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA in it.

Posted by timmbot

Just do a Kickstarter for you $100...

Posted by patrickklepek

@DrRandle said:

"hurting it's self by making"

Nnarryaryryghghgharhrhgh.

Good catch.

Staff
Edited by HappyCheeze

Heres a suggestion to Valve. If the indie game puts down 100 bucks, but doesn't make it into the system, valve refunds them. If the indie game company makes it into the system and sell enough to make 100 dollars, valve gives them 200 as a bonus and a "Thank you" message for choosing steam.

Posted by rolvtd

If the $100 is the barrier on the development side, then the interface is the barrier for the customers.

When it first launched, Greenlight had all of its games in a format that was utterly frustrating to view: 30 games per page and the ability to change the pages as usual....except whenever you would change pages there was large chance that the order of the games would change. This meant you could see the same games multiple times, or miss games entirely. Worse yet, when you clicked on a game then clicked back, the order would change again...

Now, you can only view the games in 12 page blocks, with the only way to filter being separating the games by genre.

Overall, the service is WAY to unfriendly to users, and I have decided to stay off it until it is fixed, i.e. a way to filter via title, publisher, and/or submission date.....kinda like the steam store....

Posted by DrRandle

@patrickklepek: I only caught it because I know when I read through my own stuff and I see that I've made that kind of mistake, I feel like the worst person on Earth. Not that I'm saying you are. Or. You know I'm probably just making myself look like an asshole, I don't even know why I'm posting this. Oh no, I've posted it!

Posted by movac
Edited by megalowho

I am not a developer, but I think it's a fine idea. One that Valve probably already had waiting in the wings depending on how things went, considering how fast it was implemented. $100 is just enough to give pause before committing but a good investment if you believe in your game's potential. If just for the eyes alone, since we don't yet know what gets onto Steam via Greenlight.

Posted by subyman

I think the 100 dollars is necessary. By putting up a small monetary barrier it stops the majority of people that would submit spam or troll posts. Anyone serious about making a game will have no problem coming up with 100 bucks for a chance. Apple charges devs 100 per year to develop for iOS, so I don't see this being much different.

Posted by Draxyle

Not really seeing the controversy behind this. Even if Steam decided to pocket the money, which it isn't, the fee is a perfectly legitimate tool to weed out the fake stuff. And it's 100$, less than the price of two games at release.

I can maybe understand the argument that it sets a different tone for the service. 50$ might make more sense and still do its job, though we know that people are willing to throw 100$ away just to broadcast a silly message across all of TF2.

I just don't think it's really a big deal. They had to do something, and Steam did the most fair and honest thing they could think of.

Posted by Brodehouse

If you're so indie that you can't afford 100 dollars, perhaps it's time to give up your indie dream for 2 weeks, and get a single paycheque.

Posted by patrickklepek

@DrRandle said:

@patrickklepek: I only caught it because I know when I read through my own stuff and I see that I've made that kind of mistake, I feel like the worst person on Earth. Not that I'm saying you are. Or. You know I'm probably just making myself look like an asshole, I don't even know why I'm posting this. Oh no, I've posted it!

All of the quotes were pulled from emails, so I just missed some of the weird bits. Appreciated!

Staff
Posted by coaxmetal

lmbo at developers complaining its only $100 if you are serious about your game that shouldn't mean shit.

Posted by Ghost_Cat

I have no sympathy for anyone who bitches about the $100 fee. If you think your game is good enough, $100 should be pennies compare to future profits. If you are too broke to shell out $100, get a part time job or do some odd jobs if you are serious about your goals. Treat it as an investment.

Posted by Porkellain

I see the point of the fee. Come on, 100$ are not that hard to borrow.

Posted by Mirado

It's $100 to get into IGF, $100 annually for the App Store, etc.

A one time $100 buy in to gain access to the premier PC distribution platform shouldn't cause any self-respecting developer to even bat an eye. Sure, your game might not make it....but you only have to pay it once and can submit as many games as you like once you do. LIke McMillen said, you could keep paying into IGF and not even make it a third of the time.

This seems far more reasonable. If you truly are so poor that $100 is a significant obstacle to either pay or raise, I doubt you'd be able to promote your game enough to get noticed anyway.

Posted by Daius

I'm surprised Dejobaan is even approaching this subject, considering that if Greenlight had been in place in the past the half-completed games they have released onto Steam would more than likely have been scrapped.

Posted by Rukus

@rebgav said:

It's $100. If you're not willing to gamble such a small amount of money against the quality of your product then you probably shouldn't be submitting it to Steam in the first place.

This so much. Look at XBLA's free stuff, it's an absolute cesspit since it's pretty much free entry. If I was an indie developer, and I had to choose between a $100 barrier of entry versus $50,000 to patch my game (ie. Fez), then the former would look much more appealing to me.

Posted by Patman99

@rebgav said:

It's $100. If you're not willing to gamble such a small amount of money against the quality of your product then you probably shouldn't be submitting it to Steam in the first place.

Exactly. I think the Greenlight program is a great and noble idea but no matter the merits of anything, there will always be the few who try to ruin it for the whole. The $100 admission is high enough to probably keep the vast majority of these vandals out but low enough that any developer who is serious about their game and game development in general could pay without much thought.

Posted by Deathpooky

I can't believe people are whining about this. I don't care who you are, $100 is not a lot of money, especially compared to how much developers have to put into even small games in terms of money and time. It's a nominal fee at best - enough to make sure you have confidence in the game and that it's not a joke. This isn't Microsoft charging tens of thousands of dollars for a patch.

Online
Posted by Brendan

Sometimes, controversy based on principle goes too far, and ends up looking ridiculous. This is one of those times.

Edited by zaglis

@Dezztroy said:

"Waaahhh, I'm a poor indie developer and I can't afford a marketing budget of $100, waaahhhh." Please. If you can't afford to spend $100 to show your game to millions of gamers, then maybe your game shouldn't be on Steam in the first place?

Exactly my thoughts. If you can't find 100$, you are clearly not serious about this and your ''game'' that you drew in MSpaint would be another unnecessary submission to greenlight.

Also. Controversial decision? Fuck off. Valve does not forbid posting link in the description that leads to your own site where the game can be bought. So, in a way, the worst way to look at it - 100$ for an ad on Steam.

Edited by Devildoll

oh come on.

$ 100....

if you are not expecting to recoup that in sales, does your game(s) really deserve being on a platform like steam?

i don't think so.

Posted by ptc

I don't think this will work too well. The $100 XNA fee has not prevented a lot of crap from showing up on XBLIG.

Posted by Franstone

I see nothing wrong with this.

If you're serious about getting your game out there then find the $100.

That's less than the price of two average games.

If you don't have faith your $5-$10 game won't sell 10-20 copies than it probably shouldn't be on Steam.

Valve shouldn't have to return that money or give a bonus, they are doing them a favor already.

If I could pay someone $100 for a job interview w/ a very (honest) possible chance of employment I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Posted by snide

As someone who builds submission queues for a living I can tell you this is likely defined by spam protection more than anything else. Anyone who thinks that raw manpower alone can view thousands and thousands of submissions is delusional of the costs and talent required to engineer the perfect form box.

Edited by Fireburst

There has to be SOME barrier to entry. Valve is great for thinking the community can moderate itself, but the unfortunate truth is that it almost never can, especially in as big an environment as Steam. $100 does not sound like too much, especially if you're in the business of trying to make a successful game.

Honestly, if anyone plays TF2 regularly, you'd know that Valve released a $100 item in the shop that trolls consistently buy just because it relays a (often annoying) message to anyone playing TF2. $100 will help keep most trolls off of the service, but it won't stop dedicated ones, and it may hurt some indie devs.

There probably is no perfect answer for the necessary barrier but at least this is an attempt, and they didn't just leave the service go to crap.

Edited by deerokus

The problem I have here is that there's now an arbitrary distinction between games from big companies and games from 'indies', where the former can get on, no matter how awful (diner dash clones, crap tower defence games, etc), while latter have to win a simple popularity contest to get onto the service. A popularity contest of games that, for the most part, no one has played!

It's demeaning and it creates an indie games ghetto. It seems like this could have the effect of making it much more difficult for a Binding of Isaac or a Dungeons of Dredmor to succeed, games which were put on an equal footing with everything else on the service and got good word of mouth only after people played them.

It reminds me very much of the disaster area that is Xbox Live Indie Games. The $100 fee won't make much difference. Hopefully it'll result in a boost to more indie-focused competitors like Desura or GOG.

Posted by Ravenlight

More interviews with Ichiro Lambe, please! He is my indie dev man-crush.

Edited by ikabubu

I understand Valve's plight in that: they need to stem the tide of complete dreck. I see this $100 fee as just another dev cost, the same cost you would pay to buy hardware or a developer's license or developer's kit. 
  
I'm agreeing with Alexander' Bruce's sentiment: I love Steam as a unified platform, but it isn't the center of the universe. Mojang doesn't sell Minecraft through Steam, and they make gangbusters. A lot of indie games came out independently first, and then eventually came to Steam. Noitu Love 2, Cave Story, Aquaria, Introversion games (Darwinia, Defcon, Uplink), and Flotilla come to my mind as examples of games that found success independent of Steam and came to Steam later after seeing success. 
 
On top of all this, i find it hard to believe Michael O'Reilly's assessment of indie developers who are so broke that they can't afford that last $100. I don't know what the realities of developing videogames are, but I'm guessing: if you've come this far with your time & money, $100 is a small cost compared to self-publishing it anyway. Is it the best method? Maybe not. But I can't think of a better one myself.

Posted by Binny

@snide said:

As someone who builds submission queues for a living I can tell you this is likely defined by spam protection more than anything else. Anyone who thinks that raw manpower alone can view thousands and thousands of submissions is delusional of the costs and talent required to engineer the perfect form box.

Speak that truth!

Posted by RenMcKormack

Yea I have to say I don't get the argument against it. Valve can do whatever they want with how they chose to list games on THEIR service. If the 100 bucks is a good way to keep pretenders and garbage games from cluttering Greenlight, then awesome. Would you rather no barrier at all to submission and having 1,000 versions of Mahjong ala XBLA Indies?

If you are so against paying 100 bucks to Valve then by all means release it on your site, or Indie Go Go or whatever. If you want to roll with the big dogs on PC, which is currently Valve and have your game seen by more than Patrick Kleppek and 1000 other people, then ante up.

Posted by PurplePartyRobot

Could be worse. Could be, say, $40K for fucking certification on a patch.

Posted by movac

I wonder how much of the outcry over the fee is from poorer countries? (This is a serious question: feel free to reply with links or anecdotes.) $100 may be relatively little in the US or much of Europe, but if you're in India making $80 a month, it's a much bigger barrier.

@Daius:

Not to derail, but the only Dejobaan game I'd call unfinished at release is 1-2-3 Kick It. The rest are complete games, if rather unpolished.

Posted by Xeonian

It's a one-off fee at the same price as the yearly requirement for XBL Indie Games. Considering the anecdotes regarding potential profitability between the two services, I can't say it looks like a bad deal.

Posted by ThePickle

The fee makes sense. They got to keep the riff-raff out somehow.