Since it went live last week, Steam Greenlight has had a bit of a problem. 753 entries, as I’m writing this, and while there’s certainly that many indie games wanting to get on Valve’s behemoth of a digital distribution platform, not all of those entries are indie games, or even submitted by the creator of the games in the first place. Greenlight has a pest problem, and Valve have come up with a kind of solution.
From now on, to get a game on Greenlight, you need to pony up $100. This isn’t money Valve is going to receive, but instead it’ll go to Child’s Play. The $100 is to deter people who will upload idiotic entries, or games that aren’t their own.
I’ve no doubt that it’ll work, and that Greenlight will be filled with genuine, proper games from now on, and the uploaders of those games will be the creators of the games in the first place. The problem with it, however, is two-fold.
Firstly, Indie developers really don’t have a lot of money. That the IGF requires a $95 entry fee has caused a lot of controversion in the past because when you’re making games in your spare time, or barely getting by on sales of previous efforts, $95 isn’t an inconsequential amount of money. Valve are asking for $100, and that’s not with any guarantee that they’ll ever even get on Steam.
The second problem is that it’s punishing the creators rather than the abusers. I understand that Valve doesn’t want to have to moderate Greenlight, that the lack of moderation is entirely the point; they want the community to sort through the entries and come up with the best and brightest games, the ones that they want on the service, before they even look at them.
The main problem is that, as it stands, there doesn’t seem to be any other solution. So long as Valve doesn’t want to moderate every submission of an indie game to Steam, and wants to continue with Greenlight, they’re going to have to create some sort of barrier of entry to prevent incorrect entries.
And the flip side is that, after placing down $100, a developer is going to make damn sure that their Greenlight page is the real deal, and not some half arsed effort just in case. It turns it from something to do into an investment, which should, in general, make Greenlight a better place to be.
They’re also aiming to fix the ‘Discoverability’ problem, by giving each Steam user a customisable queue, so that you only see the types of games that you’re interested in, and are able to decline to upvote a game if you don’t find it compelling or exciting enough.
It’s still early days for Greenlight, so there’ll be teething problems yet, but we’ll be prodding some friendly independent developers with sticks to see if they’ll make any grumbles that sound like opinions about the new fee.