Green For Greenlight: Valve Now Charging $100 Fee

Well, that was quick. Steam Greenlight launched last week, and a horde of jokers and spammers took that to mean “open the floodgates on vaporware and oh-so-original cracks about the fact that Half-Life 3’s not out yet.” But now, without missing a beat, Valve’s moved to put a stop to all the shenanigans. In short, submitting a game to Greenlight requires an initial $100 fee – with all of the proceeds going straight to the Child’s Play charity. So it’s about “cutting down the noise in the system,” not creating the most hilariously diabolical money-making scheme the gaming world’s ever seen. But will it work? And does it alienate the folks who need Greenlight the most? I discussed Valve’s rather sudden decision with a few especially smart (and attractive) developers to get a clearer view of the situation.

First, let’s start with the easy knee-jerk reactions. By and large, we’re looking at two camps: either 1) “Pfft, only $100? That’s nothing. It’ll keep out the riff-raff, but leave the door wide open for legitimate projects” or 2) “$100?! And that’s only for the slight chance that my game might eventually appear on Steam’s storefront? I have bills to pay and 17 cats to provide for. No deal.” As per usual with these things, however, the reality of the matter falls somewhere in the middle.

“$100 is a lot for me right now, because I’ve released all of my games [thus far] for free, and I’m supporting myself on freelance work and contracts till I get my first ‘real’ game done,” said Dames Making Games founder and It’s Not Okay, Cupid developer Zoe Quinn. “That’s eating for a month.”

But, on the flipside, Steam Greenlight’s hardly the only option for smaller independent developers. And amidst cries that Valve’s hammering nails into the coffins of game dev dreams the world over, it’s important to keep things in perspective. “I don’t think Steam would probably publish things that can’t make $100 on their own,” Quinn noted, referring to overall quality and ability to attract players. Dungeons of Dredmor executive producer and Breadbros Games developer Ben McGraw agreed.

“I know many [who live from paycheck-to-paycheck] in the indie community,” he explained. “However, I’ve never seen a living-on-the-edge team who couldn’t scrounge up the $100 or so for an iOS license or the Xbox Live Indie Games license, etc.”

Antichamber creator Alexander Bruce, meanwhile, took it one step further: this, he noted, might actually be better for small-time developers in the long run.

“Release the game on something other than Steam – your website or any other distribution service – make $100 in sales, then submit to Greenlight. There is nothing that says that you need to launch on Steam. Releasing on other platforms can also be a good way to drive people to your Greenlight page, as they already enjoy the game and want to help see it succeed.

“If the $100 is going to seriously fuck you over, you’re basically saying that without Steam, you’re dead. That seems like a terrible plan in the first place.”

That said, it’s certainly not all sunshine, roses, and firm, approving handshakes from Gabe Newell that tell you, yes, everything really is going to be alright. Greenlight’s got problems, and $100 submission fees are just the beginning.

“I think 100 bucks is a bit much, personally,” said Quinn. “$20 -$50 would probably keep out the people who seem to be the ‘this is why we can’t have nice things’ horde. And I think the move was a little bit hasty considering it was the first thing Valve tried. I think a good step would be for Steam to be clearer about what its standards are and what they’re looking for.”

Steam Greenlight, after all, isn’t a golden ticket into Valve’s magical videogame factory. It’s an opportunity to have a game curated – and maybe even turned down – by Valve. Steam’s still not as open as, say, Desura – nor, in all likelihood, will it ever be. That’s not the point. Is it fair to charge $100 for that? The jury’s still out. But, for better or worse, developers shouldn’t go in expecting something entirely different.

“The thing about Greenlight versus, like, iOS is that it’s not a ‘Pay this, then you’re direct to sale and just need to make the money back’ type of setup,” said Bruce. “It’s ‘Pay this to have your game looked at, where it’s still probable that it won’t get selected. They’re quite different scenarios, because in one instance you’re just fooling the public [with a bad game], and in another, Valve are going to look at your thing and go ‘This doesn’t fit our audience’ if you submit something shit.”

“It really just seems like an error in communication,” Quinn added. “Which, again, is one of the reasons I didn’t make a page for It’s Not Okay, Cupid yet. It’s clearly not Steam quality at this point [in development]. And if I don’t have a gameplay demo or video that shows that it should be up there, I don’t know why I’d put it on Greenlight.”

Granted, the presences of, say, Rogue Warrior, FlatOut 3, and Bad Rats on Steam proper lend credence to the idea that even Valve’s selection process is far from perfect. Further, even beyond basic communication. Valve’s actions also aren’t doing the greatest job of bringing Greenlight’s main purpose into, well, light.

“I would’ve liked to see them trying closer moderation and searchable filters before charging so much,” said Quinn. “Or at least requiring a playable demo. Maybe Steam should stop accepting stuff in the probably-vaporware stages and require a prototype. That seems like a more on-point way of dealing with it. And if that doesn’t work,then start charging more than the iOS App Store and the Google store.”

So Greenlight’s a bit of a mess at the moment. But this is largely uncharted territory, and Valve seems pretty open to both tweaking (today’s update, for instance, also brought a new user-specific window full of popular and new Greenlight games) and radically revamping its process. Developers, meanwhile, are coping in their own ways. For instance, many are following the example of this Dejobaan post, wherein the developer promised to loan $100 to promising indies (on the condition that they eventually return it) and encouraged others to do the same.

It is, in other words, a brave new world. Is it what Valve or developers expected? Certainly not. Will it ultimately succeed? Who knows. But the wheels are definitely in motion. Here’s hoping that, in this case, green really does mean “go.”


  1. caddyB says:

    Well, sorry for the developers but the spam was getting out of hand.

    • AJ_Wings says:

      I agree. I think I’ve downvoted and reported trolls and morons more than I’ve actually judged projects based on their own merit.

      • AngoraFish says:

        About time. If a ‘developer’ can’t find $100 to submit to Steam, he/she shouldn’t be making games.

        • Artist says:

          Congratulation Valve, for punishing everybody for the wrong-doings of some! How about you do your work and just hire a few low-paid workers to keep the troublemakers out of the system?

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Agreed. This seems to punish the developers for Valve’s mistakes.

          • mondomau says:

            Who’s being ‘punished’ exactly? This is exactly the kind of knee-jerk hysterics the article went out of it’s way to address.

          • Kaira- says:

            You want developers to dig up some cash to get a (slight?) chance to get into your marketplace where you can reap the benefits. And this is somehow fair logic?

          • mondomau says:

            I don’t want anything of the sort – I think this is a pretty shitty situation all round and another example of why we can’t have nice things. I just don’t think histrionics and martyrdom is going to get you anywhere – if this is the only way Valve can get the system to work then it’ll have to be that way. So far I haven’t seen any outraged parties come up with a better, workable way to keep the genuine submissions from being drowned in dross.

          • Quinnbeast says:

            Let’s not forget who is actually at fault here – it’s the arseholes that have nothing better to do than to take the piss and spoil it for everyone else. The responsibility of the need for an up-front fee (or whichever measure becomes proven to work) falls squarely at their feet. It seems to be all the rage now that people know what their rights are, but are clueless to their responsibilities.

            If there is an aspect of a given service that you don’t like, then surely you’re all adult enough to decide if the service is right for you or not?

          • Artist says:

            Maybe we should see what Greenlight is: An easy way for Valve to safe money to let the public tell them what games are worth to make money with.
            It cant be too hard for them to keep their store clean without punching indie devs into the face.
            And yes, some folks dont have spare 100$! So protip: Dont be so horribly ignorant only because you might have 100 bucks in spare.

          • SuperTim says:

            The $100 is actually not going to punish any developer. The only consequence is that the game costs $100 more to make, and therefore _you_ have to pay more for the game.

            It’s like oil prices, if they go up, then you have to pay more at the pump. It doesn’t cost more for the gas company.

            So the question is, do you think it’s fair to pay more?

          • mouton says:


            That’s 100 usd for the whole project, not for each copy. Hardly a problem once people outside of developer’s friendship circle actually buy the game.

          • ButchCore says:

            I think this fee has a double interest, since it will indeed clean the path from stupid jokes, but also make the devs consider more seriously if their product is worth giving it a chance on Steam. I would seriously doubt the validity of a project if the devs can’t find 100$ somewhere, and those few bucks will either help to retain the most determined or make those who failed think twice before they offer a not so good product, perhaps…

          • Quinnbeast says:

            @ Artist – I guess everyone is going to have a different take on the money aspect of it, and that’s fine.

            With my supposed ignorance in mind (assuming that was aimed at me); I work 40 hours a week in a pretty shitty job while doing my best to produce finished paintings whenever I’ve got the time and cash to spare. If I want to display work in someone’s gallery, I’ll expect them to take a commission for doing so. I need to invest a fairly substantial amount money in a host of materials even just to be able to apply paint to canvas, let alone display it to the public for a chance of a possible sale. If my acceptance of occasional/neccesary investments makes me ignorant, then I’m guilty as charged.

            But whichever way you look at it, and as Clavus mentions below; if $100 is genuinely a deal-breaker, then you’ve perhaps got other issues to contend with first.

          • SuperTim says:

            @ mouton – Well, it makes perfect economic sense to charge your customers more if it costs more to produce. If you believe that developers should spend 100 dollars more because it’s worth it, then why can’t you believe you should pay 1 (or 2) more dollars/pounds for exactly the same reason?

          • bonjovi says:

            You’re right, they could go the way of Apple. but then you would exchange the cost of submitting a game, for a time it takes for Valve to get through the mountain of submissions to evaluate yours. You are also relying on a someone’s judgement of what is acceptable and what isn’t.

            paying a $100 is far better idea.

          • RandomGameR says:

            @SuperTim: It’s perfectly reasonable for a developer to pass the $100 cost off to the consumer, but if you’re suggesting that in order to make up for the $100 that they should raise their price $1-2 then I think you’re missing the point. At an extra $1 per copy you’re saying that you only expect to sell 100 copies of the game (thus recouping your cost). At $2 you’re expecting only 50 copies. In either case, your game should not be on steam.

            If you don’t think your game has enough interest in it to get on steam and make you more than $100 then it’s probably better to not put the game into this system.

          • Ninja Foodstuff says:

            Well Apple charge $100 for their developer program, that’s before you jump through all the hoops, and that does nothing to stop all the drivel passing through the app store floodgates.

            Having said that, with Apple you do at least get more for your $100 than just the ability to pitch an idea in a public forum.

          • SuperTim says:

            @RandomGameR – Hah! I see you’re one of those who wishes that that extra dollar/euro goes 100% directly to the developer! Well, I wish it was too! But, you know, first there’s this VAT thing, then Valve takes their share, then the developing company has to pay company taxes, and after that the developer needs to pay his/her income taxes. You’d be surprised how much the developer gets after that. :-)

            So if you’ve wondered why you have to pay so much for games? Now you know why. You wanted this yourself. :-)

          • BluMg0 says:

            @SuperTim If they only think their game will sell 1000 copies, they can charge an extra .001, meaning the total likely wouldn’t end in 99. If they think their game will only sell 100 copies, a one dollar price difference likely won’t solve their problem. /pointless comment

          • SuperTim says:

            @BluMg0 – Thank you for your pointless comment. You’ve already agreed that developers (Valve, and therefore every other ind. developer as well) have every right to increase their price! Of course they _could_ increase less, but _you_ already said they deserve to charge more (or at least to the next rounded up price).

            Thank _you_ (and everyone else who thinks this is fair) for making everyone pay more for their games for no reason at all.

            Seriously, this $100 idea is incredibly silly. It makes our games more expensive, the proceeds only go to one specific charity in the US (and not to Comic Relief, for example), and alienate even more developers away from Steam.

            And if I like Valve I’d probably suggest them to stop it immediately, but fortunately for you I’m very indifferent about it. :)

        • mouton says:

          Especially since many users submit 100 usd to Steam every sale or so.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      $10 would eliminated 99% of the joke submissions and guaranteed more money to charity in the long run.

      • Namey says:

        That still wouldn’t probably eliminate things of very dubious quality that have no business cluttering the thing. Things that are actual games, but really shouldn’t even be voted on.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          As far as fees-for-stuff goes, $100 seems about perfect to me. Yeah, it sucks that Valve has to charge at all, but if they’re being forced to do it, $100 is not too much to ask for.

          $10 can be conjured up by any dumb kid with his parents’ credit card and they won’t notice. $100 is just enough to show you’re serious, and anyone with an actual job (part time or full time) can afford one $100 purchase if they’re serious about something. And if you’re young enough that somehow you’ve made a great Indie game but are still unemployed, then go ask your parents.

          And if you want to complain about it, go yell at the idiots who listed Minecraft and Battlefield 3 and Wizardry 8. Because it’s their fault.

      • Lemming says:

        Not sure what you’re basing those numbers on, but the problems aren’t just joke submissions. There are rip-off merchants and game-cloners as well. A $10 loss would be easily justified for them.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          For game-cloners and rip-off merchants, a $100 fee will probably not be much discouragement either.

          I’m really skeptical about this fee. The real effect of it seems to be to favour more commercial games, and discourage speculative submissions from first time developers/developers from weird and wonderful genres who developed their game out of love and aren’t sure their games have mass appeal. And I, for one, think the whole point of the project was to encourage the latter, than have a horde of Big Fish Games style casual games. (Not that there’s anything wrong with casual gaming, but they have had plenty of exposure already.)

      • Eclipse says:

        you are terribly wrong, what’s the point of paying $10? comments about $100 being too much are truly so stupid and ignorant I can’t even think about how someone can really believe that

        • Shuck says:

          $100 wouldn’t be too much if you were submitting your game to Valve for evaluation. But you’re not. The $100 is to put your game in front of the Steam audience in a format which is frankly a half-assed, poorly thought-out mess at this point, in which many games are likely to be lost, in the hopes that the audience will pay enough attention to the game to recommend it to Valve, at which point they will evaluate (and possibly reject) it. So it’s basically $100 for nothing.
          As critical as I was of how it was working before, it did work on some level – the presence of so much junk meant that developers had to have separate sites in which they fostered a community for their games and sent that traffic to Greenlight to up-vote their game. (Scams and jokes, etc. would get lost, eventually.) The problem is that Valve clearly wants to be the all-inclusive destination for community, and they want to foster the creation of the audience, but they still haven’t created the structure in which to do that. I feel like they want to be a part of the next “Minecraft,” but realized that they were superfluous to requirements for games like that. They can’t figure out what they need to make that dynamic work, however. (And honestly, I don’t think they can do it.)
          Frankly, at this point they’d be better off just having a “submit the name of a game you’d like to see on Steam” form in members’ home pages that, when the numbers for a particular game submission reached a certain threshold, notified someone at Valve to have a look.

    • Clavus says:

      People are talking about the fee like you’re being charged for every submission. It’s a one time fee, purely to weed out the idiots. If you can’t afford $100 bucks you should seriously consider a side job next to your game dev ambitions.

      • Baines says:

        People are talking about the fee because you are paying for the privilege of the *chance* that Steam *might* look at your game, and might approve it.

        It isn’t “Pay $100 to get on Steam”. It is “Pay $100 to get on Greenlight. There it is your job to spread word of your game to enough people to get enough up votes for approval. (We at Steam aren’t sure how much is enough, so that number is subject to change. Actually, maybe we at Steam haven’t quite thought through this whole Greenlight process in general. So, uhm, good luck and hope it works?) At that point, we at Steam will put your game in the queue to be looked at by an actual Steam employee, where it will be subject to the same arbitrary and arguably inconsistent approval process that was in place before Greenlight was created. (Where popular and good games sometimes get rejected, while lower quality stuff can still make it through.) Maybe you’ll be lucky, so cough up that $100 and spin the wheel.”

        Hrm… Since the money is going to charity, will Steam get to write it off and put it in any PR about what they might donate each year?

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          I’d add, in a note of cynicism, that half the time, these donate-to-charity deals from large companies are basically bullshit, because there are all sort of tricks one can employ – like deducting it from other charity efforts, or using it to generate tax deductions. I’ll have to see some numbers before I view this charity suggestion as real money and not just an accounting trick.

      • Davioware says:

        Seriously, 100$ isn’t that bad. Since I’ve put my game TowerClimb, I’ve made well over 100$ from the advertising factor alone.

    • Deano2099 says:

      What interests me is that, with the levels set as they are at the moment, getting the required votes seems nigh-on impossible. Most indie devs seemed to talk about entering when it was free as basically a lottery. But worth a punt anyway.

      I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if with that fee the number of entries drops to a level that’ll kill off the entire concept in a few days.

  2. djbriandamage says:

    I love this related tweet that appeared on my feed last night:
    “mcc ‏@mcclure111
    Basically I’m shocked by the sheer number of ways the indie ecosystem is presenting me in which I can spend ~$75 in order to be ignored.”

    • Worcanna says:

      I saw that. Feels like maybe a little bit of sour grapes towards things. :/

      • dE says:

        Well, at least the entry fee isn’t used to fund the Phil Fish Circlejerk Fund (see IGF).

        • The Random One says:

          No, this one is going to the Make Nerds Look Good Foundation, run by Manbaby, Manbaby & Rapist, LLC.

  3. JackDandy says:

    I personally think it’s a great idea. A pretty functional way of filtering out the shit.

    Greenlight still has to prove itself by showing us what games get in, though.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      I do wonder about free games though. For instance, I’ve seen Neotokyo (HL2 mod) show up on Greenlight. It’s a very, -VERY- high quality mod, with its own soundtrack and a plethora of original art work, but it’s still free. Should the people who have made the mod and tried to resurrect it pay for it without getting any money back? That seems a little unfair, although I guess they could make the money back through merchandising.

      • mouton says:

        If the mod has any reasonable community, it can easily get 100 usd from them.

        • Magnusm1 says:

          …Seriously? What part of “free” don’t you understand?

          • RandomGameR says:

            The part where he was suggesting that the mod creators ask the mod community for donations in order to get the game into the system?

          • PopeJamal says:

            LOL, I love this place!

          • Lukasz says:

            i second what RGR said. I think we have enough proof that gaming community will support stuff they see worthwhile
            quick fund rising just for a free mod to be on steam would easily get devs. 100 bucks.

            If you are from third world country getting 100 bucks might be an issue. if you are from first world country and paying 100 bucks is too much for you you really shouldn’t be making games and should be sorting your life first.

  4. Gwilym says:

    Couldn’t they just give the money back if the game didn’t end up getting on? That would keep both sides of the argument happy, I would think. Submission would have to include an agreement that troll entries forfeit that money, but that doesn’t seem too unrealistic either. Is there an obvious thing I’m overlooking here?

    • Vorphalack says:

      I was just about to post something similar. With a little moderation they could have set a refundable $100 deposit, which is lost if your submission turns out to be a troll post. Dunno why they didn’t go with that.

      • drakkheim says:

        Well holding money and returning it (especially for individuals / companies in other countries) get’s a bit complicated real fast, legally and financially (what happens to the interest?) so I wouldn’t count on that happeining.

        Still $100 is less than 1/7 the price of flash or photoshop. Or any of the other development tools for that matter.
        So chances are pretty slim that its a problem for any group that’s even remotely serious. Will there be some edge cases… probably.. but this will get steam 90% of the way there.

        • Shivoa says:

          But also infinite percent more than GCC or Clang, Visual Studio Express editions (think there may be a non-commercial clause in there, I also think this has actually been worked out on a number of occasions to be something you can chat with MS to get around rather than buying an expensive VS license if you don’t want to move to a different compiler and wave your hands about the time spend writing the debugging the code on the free non-commercial tool*), Eclipse/many other IDE, GIMP, Blender, OpenGL/DirectX SDKs, Unity free edition, Unreal Development Kit (until decent revenue level), and the many many things I’m failing to mention as I just give a few examples of tools that aren’t from the Adobe Pro suite.

          * Something you really shouldn’t do, if they do have that non-commercial clause still. Plenty of IDE in the sea that are free and good.

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            think there may be a non-commercial clause in there

            Nope! You can use Visual Studio Express for whatever you like, but they are lacking in features.

          • Shivoa says:

            That’s great news. The limitation was either Express 2005 or 2008 when I last looked into it so opening it to commercial use in the newer editions is great. There are some limitations but it’s still a rather nice IDE (especially for C#) and probably the ideal for any Windows projects.

          • drakkheim says:

            oh absolutely there are edge cases. (using Java, Eclipse, libGdx and Blender myself) But if you can make something steam-worthy using just free tools then you can easily offer it for sale yourself and use something like BMT micro and announce it on various indie dev forums saying that you’re “trying to get money to go onto greenlight so you’re selling a pre-steam version for 5-10 bucks. “, or do something, take donations, kickstart etc. If your game cant raise 100 on its own then it probably saved you 100 because it wouldn’t make it through greenlight anyway.

  5. Worcanna says:

    I would like to (hopefully) think that maybe they also see the “to charity” part and think it also does good outside of getting the game on steam. I hope they see that point.

  6. Jason Moyer says:

    I don’t see why $100 is necessarily more effective than charging $20 would have been.

    • RogB says:

      because $100 is just outside the ‘for lulz’ threshold, whereas $20 isnt? (unless you are a pretty dedicated troll)

      • Tacroy says:

        Ah but since you can’t pay in cash, you’ll need a new credit card every time you pay the $20 and get banned. That’s hard to pull off.

        • Shuck says:

          I don’t think their biggest target with the price-point is trolls so much as would-be game developers putting their half-baked game mods/ideas up for consideration. That is, they’re aren’t targeting trolls but trash. They’re trying to cut down on the clutter in the list.

    • Eclipse says:

      then you must be blind dude

    • mondomau says:

      $20 might discourage ‘lulz’, but not scammers.

      • phlebas says:

        Would $100 be enough for that? I’d have thought dealing with scammers would need a different mechanism rather than a matter of degree.

  7. Chris D says:

    This smells too much like a self-publishing scam to me. I know that’s not the intent but it’s still too close. It’s a direct violation of Yog’s law

    “Money flows towards the writer”

    If you need some kind of filter, and you probably do, then how about someone at Valve who actually looks at this stuff?

    I love you Valve but please rethink this.

    • Emeraude says:

      This is what I was thinking when they started the project. They’re basically turning filtering the slush-pile – that is, in my opinion, one, if not THE, most demanding, difficult, and soul-crushing part of an editor’s job – into crowd-sourced unpaid work.

      Which doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. A very interesting experiment, nonetheless.

      • Zeewolf says:

        Yeah, I feel they’re turning it into a popularity contest. It’s obvious they’re not very good at handling submissions at this time, seeing how they’re rejected so many quality titles without even telling why. But I wish they’d work harder at the submission process instead of basically giving up and turning it over to the mostly clueless masses. I fear this will result in less interesting indies on Steam, not more.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Just wait till HL3Light! Crowdsourcing the entire game, engine and story!

        (That comment alone lost 3 months off the release date if Valve sees it. I care not cos HLBMS!)

    • skinlo says:

      Yog just seems to be some random guy who made up a arbitrary law that writers like to make them feel powerful and entitled.

      • Emeraude says:

        Wow…. I… just… Wow.

        This is one of those times were I can only hope the comment is an attempt at trolling. Or my sarcasm/irony detector not registering.

      • A-T says:

        Just by being exposed to this post, my brain shrank 15% and I’m now paralyzed from the waist down

    • _Nocturnal says:

      You say “self-publishing scam” and other people talk about the need for an already present community in order to get a game approved, but I feel something very important is being missed here:

      When you access Greenlight in Steam, the first thing you see is an interface to browse through submissions.

      You can do so in chronological order or via your customized queue. Then there are the filters for genre, platform and players. There are also collections and access to your friends’ favourites to help with finding games one might not be familiar with.

      I don’t think those features justify a $100 entry fee and we’ll have to wait a while and see just what could be accomplished with them in practice, but they do exist and are functional in allowing you to discover new games there.

      I’m saying this as a person who looked through and voted on more than a 100 games in just the past two days, simply using Greenlight in the way that seems to be intended. I also enjoyed the process and got other people involved with me.

      • PopeJamal says:

        I agree. I see the need to keep out the trolls and I see the need to keep out peole who aren’t really serious, but $100 USD seems a bit much considering how little you really get. Hell, $50 to $75 would probably be just as effective, but still rather steep in my opinion.

    • Slaadfax says:

      An interesting comparison, and as one who has spent time on slush piles, I cannot help but agree.

      Although I do have to wonder: with what happened with the regular Steam submission process and what had begun to happen in Greenlight before this change… with the people working on this, be they employees or the community members taking time to look through submissions…

      Would it simply be worth it for these indies to pay a little just to prevent 75% more garbage cluttering up the “storefront”? Fewer projects means more potential eyes, and a less-jaded viewer (from no more junk/vaporware/general spam) means they might be open to more projects.

      In the end, the comparison to Yog’s Law isn’t quite perfect, since this also isn’t a commercially published material. The notion of independence is that the creator takes full responsibility to fund, craft, market, and handle everything else related to their project. If they’re not willing to spend a little money to ensure a few things (not saying this Greenlight charge is one of them), then there’s a bit of a problem.

    • Grygus says:

      It isn’t really a fee; Valve isn’t asking you for money. They’re saying, “hey if you’re serious about this, make a charitable contribution.” The money is going to charity. I think viewing it as just a fee because it’s leaving your pocket is a bit self-centered and short-sighted.

      • RobF says:

        Charitable contributions are supposed to be voluntary acts, man. Not things you’re coerced into as a business expense.

        • mondomau says:

          Oh good grief. There is a need for a fee – that is obvious from the problems the service has encountered. Valve set that at a sensible level to provide a barrier to entry that will hopefully keep out trolls and scammers but not block genuine devs. Then, because they don’t want to (be seen to ) actually profit from dev’s hard-earned, they direct it to the most well-known videogame related charity around.
          Yet you’re bitching about being coerced into donating money to a charitable cause in order to potentially make lots of money through the Steam distribution service?

          I appreciate it feels like a bit of a bait and switch, but what would your solution be exactly?

          • RobF says:

            Either moderation, because Valve can afford to pay staff and we should acknowledge this at all times or by providing enough tools to the community to filter out and filter through the crap to find the things they want. Which is how Greenlight was supposed to work. It’s supposed to be the community filters through the crap, it’s supposed to be developers funnelling people from elsewhere into Greenlight to vote up their page. Noise will be an inevitable end result of this.

            To use another example of a service flooded with crap, XBLIG. There is a nominal fee that costs somewhere in the same region as the fee to be considered on Greenlight. The service is still filled with rubbish. That’s not the problem. The problem is people need a way to sort through that rubbish and that’s where curators play a part (see also Playlists and Channels on YouTube), that’s where strong and granular search tools would play a part, letting people filter is the answer, not charging an arbitrary amount and hoping the problem will go away because of it. That way you have the community, you have everyone working to make it a more desirable place. That’s how the ideal works.

            Greenlight was meant to be a crowdsourced solution to the sorting. That’s what it was designed to be. A way the community could grease the wheels of the submissions machine and a way to hopefully be more inclusive in what they catch. And a way for Valve to offload the submissions queue.

            I’m not averse to fees, I pay enough money out for dev things as it is. I’m averse to fees where the situation they’ve been instituted to resolve could have been easily forseen and prepared for by anyone who’s been on the internet for more than five minutes and large parts of the issues solved by launching with a stronger set of base tools to empower people enough to do the jobs Valve want them to do. The first week would always be chaos but you work at laying down the rules of the service, you ensure that you have systems in place to remove abusers from using the service (greenlight, not Steam as a whole…), you launch prepared for these things and you deal with them until the message hits home and the novelty has worn off. These are things that anyone launching a similar service would have to consider in 2012, we don’t let Valve have a pass on it.

            But the fees are just a thing to quell the tide, a panic solution that isn’t a solution at all. And they could keep, no matter how many people shout “fuck them if they can’t afford it”, developers out in the cold and they’re the developers who would benefit most from Greenlight because for every 10 shit ones, there’s a person making magic for 25p and a panda cola. Saying fuck those guys if they haven’t got $100 is stupidity incarnate, more so when you consider that some who were those guys you’ve probably bought games from on Steam and turned them into not-those-guys.

          • mouton says:

            It is very much a solution, you just don’t like it.

            If someone does magic for 25p and panda cola, surely he or she will easily gather a community around his or her brilliant project. And 100 usd is -nothing- for any game community bigger than your family circle.

          • Shuck says:

            @mouton: Oh, this is absolutely a panic solution. It works against some of their stated goals for Greenlight. I’m rather amazed at how poorly thought out this whole thing was. Anyone who has thought about user-submitted content at all would have predicted many of the problems they’ve had with Greenlight and come up with some solutions. They’re just flailing at this point, coming up with stop-gap measures (that will fail in the long term), while they hopefully get their act together.

        • aepervius says:

          It is voluntary. You can chose to make the contribution, or chose to not go on greenlight.

      • says:


        Charity aside, they’re simply asking the user to put their money where their mouth is.

      • sinister agent says:

        Thank you. I can only imagine the laughter in the police station at the “scam” artist whose MO is to have people voluntarily give money away to someone else entirely, and never see a penny of it themselves.

        • RobF says:

          OK, OK, I phrased it badly. What I meant was “don’t bloody try and use charity to guilt trip me into accepting this because that’s pants”.

  8. bateleur says:

    Regarding Alexander Bruce’s comment: Greenlight’s “thumbs up” has also changed since launch. It now asks if you would buy the game if it were on Steam. As such, persuading your fans who already have the game to vote for it is no longer a viable strategy. At least not unless they’re happy lying about their purchase plans or they all want a second copy.

    • Shantara says:

      Some developers offer a free Steam key for everyone who bought the game on their site before it was released on Steam. Does this count as purchase?

    • Clavus says:

      I still vote on basis of “would I buy this if I was a fan of the genre / had enough time”. If the game has sufficient quality, and presents something original or well executed, why not upvote it?

    • Dizzard says:

      Well it’s not like Valve can come after you once it’s released saying “Why haven’t you bought this yet? You said you would buy it!”

      We can just say we changed our minds or circumstances changed and we couldn’t afford it.

      There are tons of games on greenlight that I wouldn’t buy but are still high quality and deserve to be on steam. It doesn’t feel right to not support them just because it’s not my thing. It also feels wrong to be ignorant to the desires of others who would want it on steam.

  9. resurrection says:

    Could they also perhaps do something similar to filter out the hordes of crap that seem to be endlessly flooding the Steam Workshop?

    • baby snot says:

      Not until it clogs up their servers. Otherwise it’s considered to be adding value :p

  10. Zelius says:

    This would be a good idea, if there was still a way to get your game approved by Steam other than through Greenlight.

    I mean, large publishers most likely won’t have to go through Greenlight. Why is an indie’s only option to pay for this “service”, only to have to fight for our attention, with the very likely possibility of still being ignored?

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      And there isn’t? Did Steam just shut down other submission channels for people not tied to big publishers or what?

      • RobF says:

        Yes, they just did that very thing. This is the only route for indies now.

        • Zeewolf says:

          Wow. I feared this, but didn’t really want to believe it.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          That’s pretty fucked up. I would call that pure laziness on Valve’s part, but they never bothered to do proper QA on submissions before anyway.

          • Damn Skippy says:

            That actually kinda sucks. What is considered indie to them now, then? Would Torchlight 2 need to go through Greenlight if it was announced now?

        • fish99 says:

          That’s a shame, surely Valve can afford to employ people to do this.

        • MattM says:

          That is awful, indie isn’t a small nitch and and there are plenty of professional independent developers out there right now. Valve shouldn’t treat them like amateurs on a first audition.

      • Xocrates says:

        They did. I spoke to one dev currently on Greenlight this weekend, he confirmed that not only Steam is no longer accepting submissions through the previous method, but several devs that had submitted previously and were waiting approval (he included) were told to submit to greenlight instead.

        • alundra says:

          Without taking sides, there are plenty of abandoned indie games on steam, some right after release. Perhaps Valve wanted to bring this under control, at any rate, that they took this path, closing the front doors to indies and make them take the Mr. Burns “supplicants” path, it sucks, very much.

      • Shivoa says:

        The new text of link to worth quoting:

        “At the moment Steam is currently not accepting new game submissions as we transition to our new Steam Greenlight process.”

        “Going forward, we’re putting the choice into the hands of customers through Steam Greenlight.”

        “To get access to the Steamworks SDK, you still need to go through Steam Greenlight.”

        So, yep, they just shut the door to any indies who don’t already have a contact inside Valve to chat to about getting their next game up on the service by the sounds of it. This fee-required popularity contest just got a lot worse than it sounds, hopefully the community will say this really isn’t on and they’ll reopen the traditional approval process that used to exist for bugging people until you got a ruling on the viability of your game.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      What the hell compelled Valve to democratize the indie approval process? Other than sheer laziness, I mean.

  11. GetUpKidAK says:

    There have been some hysterical overreactions about this on Twitter this morning, and I think Alexander Bruce summed it up nicely actually. It’s almost like some people think it’s the only way the game can be sold, so now those indies that can’t afford it are doomed.

    It’s possible that $30 or $50 would have achieved what they’re hoping $100 will, but, and I can’t stress this enough, it’s *very* early days for the service.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Hopefully the discoverability is really tightened up, otherwise $100, $200, is still pissing in the wind. Not because “lol trollz” but given the amount of games incoming, it’s going to end up as a huge selection to wade through even if every one is an amazing game.

  12. Tei says:

    I think too 100 is way too much. Even if your game is published on steam, it may not make any money. But whas neccesary at this point to stop trolls. We will still see a few trolls, maybe even a dude proposing marry with this method… Is that type of thing.

    • Eclipse says:

      you think wrong, 100 is maybe too low a fee, real developers would happily pay more to have a service that offers good visibility without all the crapware that’s at the moment on greenlight. Who thinks 100 is too much probably will never be a game developer

      • Starky says:

        Also, if any indie dev can’t sell enough copies *outside* of steam, to pay that $100 on a chance to double (if not vastly more) their current lifetime sales – then they should not be on steam.

  13. Koojav says:

    “$100 is a lot for me right now, because I’ve released all of my games [thus far] for free, and I’m supporting myself on freelance work and contracts till I get my first ‘real’ game done,” said Dames Making Games

    Seriously, guy releases his games for free and cries that he can’t afford to promote his future work. What a retard.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Zoe Quinn, founder of Dames Making Games – by what brilliant logic did you conclude it was a guy?

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I’d think the problem is that they think a FREE GAME needs distribution on Steam. The game is already free, you have all the distribution in the universe (Pirate Arge Bay! etc).

      Steam is great for other things, but as a service, it’s cost and thus fee is not free. (AFAIK and IMHO)

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Ack, you guys need to read better. She’s not saying the game she wants to put on Steam is to be free, just that all her games in the past have been free, and that because of that her income is limited right now.

  14. paddymaxson says:

    Of course, the funny thing about Dejobaan is that if they’d had to go through greenlight to get on steam, they probably wouldn’t have any games on Steam, their entire library fucking sucks super hard. Especialy that really shit Katamari Damacy ripoff. Nice of them to help others out though.

    • BatmanBaggins says:


    • Zeewolf says:

      I don’t agree that their library sucks. I do, however, agree that it’s unlikely they would have gotten through Greenlight. Again, it’s a popularity contest. Weird is usually not popular.

  15. Deano2099 says:

    Err… there seems to be a lot of confusion in the post. If Greenlight didn’t exist, and this was a $100 for Valve to look at your game, then this would be defensible. But it’s not. They’ve changed the system. It’s a $100 for Valve to not look at your game until it gets a million likes on Greenlight.

    Thing is, Greenlight was introduced to reduce the number of games Valve have to review. Just introducing the fee itself would have done that anyway. Greenlight is now redundant.

    This is basically the equivalent of pay-to-play music/comedy gigs, except the promoter doesn’t even bother turning up to see you and just asks the audience if you were any good.

    • Tacroy says:

      I think you’re missing the part where it’s a one-time fee. You pay the $100 once, and then after that you can submit as many games as you like.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        That doesn’t negate his basic point, does it?

      • ProctorEldritch says:

        @Tacroy Yeah, except that Greenlight is now the only way for Indie developers to get their game(s) on Steam.

        Unless an applicant is already a successful developer, I really don’t see any incentive for spending $100 to have a chance at getting their game distributed through Steam at the whim of its community.

        Edit: Added content

    • gunny1993 says:

      The original point was so valve can let the community do something that it cant itself, i.e evaluate hundreds of indie games in relatively short spaces of time. Without the fee greenlight was redundant because all the quality was being drowned in shit.

      • Deano2099 says:

        But why do you think Valve couldn’t do the job itself and had to get the community to do it?

        Because they were being drown in shit.

        If you introduce a fee to fix that, you can go back to the old system.

      • Shuck says:

        The problem is that they’re still going to be full of junk even with the fee (see: XBLIG, iTunes app store), even if it weeds out amateurs submitting their half-finished Half-Life mods on a whim. (Plus there’s already over 700 entries that will be in the list for how long?) So it’ll still be impossible for users to sort through everything. Which means that developers will have to drive traffic from their own sites to Greenlight to get projects voted up to the level where Valve will deign to notice them. So it doesn’t really change anything.

  16. iLag says:

    great read. still, I would have liked to see some more opinions, maybe from both extreme ends of the spectrum (say, Cliffski and Jonas Kyratzes), just to show how much the dev responses differ and how hard it is to find a working solution for this problem. (my twitter feed has been very interesting this morning!) one has to wonder, though… didn’t Valve think this one through?

  17. Kinth says:

    In fairness to Valve there isn’t much else they could do.

    The gaming community is full of selfish asshats these days. If any of the actual games are to get seen they have to stop the flood of selfish idiots who think “trolling” is cool and funny. At least the money is going to a charity so something good can at least come out of these utter morons who should jsut be banned from gaming all together.

    • Deano2099 says:

      How about:

      You can’t put up a game without a demo
      Demo hosted on Steam, available for anyone to download and play
      You can’t vote without having spent 20 minutes in the demo

      – Problem fixed using tools Steam already has.

      • Untitled says:

        What if someone uploads a demo with a hidden keylogger in it somewhere? Or maybe some other kind of malware which isn’t detectable, like a dangerous but unintended backdoor. It’s not as easy to solve this problem as you make it out to be, the last thing Valve want is crowds of people shouting “STEAM GAVE ME A VIRUS!”

        When the internet is involved, you always have to think of the worst possible thing that could happen otherwise you’re leaving yourself open to a whole load of crap.

        • Deano2099 says:

          Yes. Someone would have to check the demos and run a virus scan on them. Maybe Valve’s old review team could do that now since otherwise they’ll be out of work.

      • Kinth says:

        It would be very easy to create a false demo, Hell even I could program something to show a few images or bits of text. Essentially you would just be getting an interactive version of the shit already on show. Every one of these demo’s would also have to be looked over by Valve to make sure they aren’t malicious or contain viruses.

        Greenlight was meant as a platform to get indie games some much needed attention, unfortunately it has become just another thing the self destructive gaming community has ruined for itself with inane “trolling”. It’s shit like this that gets gamers a bad rep, this is why we can’t have nice things.

      • uh20 says:

        that would work out fine, but you would have to get rid of the demo part for security
        in order to vote, you will have to completely view all/most of the materials presented about the game, screenshots and videos and descriptions alike

        im not sure how you would get the timer to count down the video though, maybe they could just make a 20 second timer, good enough to prevent any small troll downvote

  18. kyrieee says:

    A fee isn’t unreasonable, it solves Valve’s problem (game spam) but it doesn’t solve the developers’ problems (giving internet commentors power). It just makes it more undesirable to subit games there. This whole thing is a mess and should make it clear to people why the “won’t buy if it isn’t on Steam” mentality isn’t healthy.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Do people actually say that? How irrational.

      • HadToLogin says:

        You already forgot whinnying about BF3 and ME3 not being on Steam (instead using some crappy Origin)?

        • Dorako says:

          To be fair, a lot of that was “Won’t buy on Origin” rather than “Won’t buy if not on Steam”. My issue with Origin is that I don’t want to have to run 50 different background programs to play games. It isn’t that Steam is any better, but at least it’s just one.

  19. Dominic White says:

    I’ve said this elsewhere, but if you really can’t afford $100, then you should release your game direct on your own site, via Desura, Indievania, or the dozen or so other indie game outlets. And if you can’t market your game well enough to raise $100 even on a dozen stores? Well, nobody would have voted for you on Greenlight anyway, and it would have been wasted money to begin with.

    It’s not a magic bullet. You don’t get on Greenlight and then automatically get a distribution deal. It’s somewhere where developers who are serious about getting on the largest, most influential store on the internet can point their fanbases to and try and drum up publicity. It isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme.

    • RobF says:

      Dom, “And if you can’t market your game well enough to raise $100 even on a dozen stores? Well, nobody would have voted for you on Greenlight anyway, and it would have been wasted money to begin with.”

      And that’s sorta the problem. I’ve seen the numbers for the other stores Dom and it’s scary the gulf that can emerge between one game on Steam and one on those dozen stores. To the point of, genuinely, those other stores not being able to fund the $100. That’s what makes all this so worrying.

      But, y’know, why is this fee here? Never mind the could you pay it, that’s a given that lots can’t, lots seem to think it’s dead easy to pluck $100 out of your arsecrack and some people just look a bit befuddled about the whole thing. Never mind the idea that it’s somehow a privilege to be able to put your game on a website somewhere and potentially have people click a button on that website.

      What is the fee for? Why am I paying money because some people uploaded some shit to a website? How the fuck do we get to a place where that’s seen as fine? And since when can’t Valve afford to get some moderators in? Why are people being asked to pay because their system is broken. Fix the system first, show that it works, then we’ll talk fees.

      • Emeraude says:

        I wonder when Valve is going to hit the spot where they become the new GameStop, perceived as evil on account of the crushing mammoth they unwillingly became, as much if not more of what they’re willingly doing wrong.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Getting hundreds of moderators in LITERARY destroys the point of greenlight.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Then maybe Greenlight wasn’t such a good concept after all. But it’s new so we’ll have to see, I suppose.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Oh no, you misunderstand me (sorry that post was lacking my reasoning). The idea of greenlight is it speeds up valve’s processing of good games by only allowing ones that receive large amounts of votes to get into their area. (I know from at least 2 devs who were trying to get stuff on steam the process is silly slow and arduous normally) This increases their revenue and also gives consumers more power. With all the troll bullshit the chances of good games getting through was drastically lowered hence lowering valves revenue in the long run and hurting the devs of good indies and consumers.

            Adding moderators incurs more cost to valve (even if they do it for free), adding this fee only harms devs who are apposed to spending money to get your games on the new massive advertising campaign knows as greenlight, and a chance at getting it on the largest digital retailer in the world. (No one said devs had to be good at business)

            Atm the balance of who this benefits is with valve and the consumer, only time will tell if devs also get a good amount. And always remember valve is a company not a charity, the fact that they are trying new business ideas is always a good thing and should be praised (until it fails).

            At the end of the day this is a decision that only affects the devs, the majority wont perceive it as bad because for them it’s good.

        • Deano2099 says:

          Well they already have a bunch of people that used to review games. They probably need something to do now.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        This. So very much. It needn’t even be about the fee or the height of it, just about the way Valve is going about things. And it’s all topsy-turvy in my opinion.

    • Andrigaar says:

      $115 Kickstarter:
      -$100 for submission
      -$15 for fees and breathing room if there are minimum fees or something–never read the ToS myself.

      Promise copies of your game at like half-price what you would like to charge on Steam (which will sadly spread some more DRM-free copies through the piracy channels if you’re already selling it that way), but it should be a simple KS goal since hopefully you’re submitting to Steam because your game is finished… not like all the trash(read: alpha build/proof of concept) high school student projects I saw last week.

      • RobF says:

        Or, handjob down the docks. Four sailors, easy money.

        It’s easy to come up with theoretical ways to raise the money, I’ve read everything from Kickstarters to yard sales to asking your friends to begging from other indies providing you acknowledge that there’s no free rides in life (ew) to saving up really, really hard. None of them fix anything.

        They all just paper over any issues and carry on as if it’s perfectly reasonable to instate a system that removes work from a company, foists it onto the community and developers then when it doesn’t quite go to plan in the first few days, slap a fee on it, call it for charity and go “what? what?” a lot as if there aren’t other, better, solutions out there.

        I’m not interested in ways of raising the money, personally, I have the fee today and I could pay it if I needed to. I’ll question why I need to pay it and “because you shouldn’t feel entitled to be on Steam for free” so far has been the answer more often than not and I really, really can’t wrap my head around that because well, you could argue that about walking on pavements, farting, anything and it’d still have no less a circular logic to it. “You have to pay because you’re not entitled to not have to pay” is insane.

        • Grygus says:

          If you choose to pay it, it would be for sick kids; the money is for charity. If you feel that giving $100 to charity is somehow demeaning to you, or violates your rights, then by all means give it a pass, but righteous indignation seems like an overreaction to me.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            I don’t think it’s about where the money goes. It’s about the fact that so shortly after its unveiling Valve decide to charge for Greenlight for a service (a service from which submissions can be removed as a result of votes) they made because they didn’t want to use the old method.

            It just seems lazy and lays the burden on the developers. It seems more reasonable for Valve to attempt to fix their mess themselves instead.

          • Deano2099 says:

            Yes, and Valve are offering to match every $100 Greenlight donation with $100 of their own to charity.

            Oh wait. No.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          It’s insane logic because you made it up! Nobody is saying ‘ you have to pay because you don’t have to pay’, they are saying ‘you don’t have to pay’ pure and simple. Greenlight is a service, don’t use it if you don’t want to. That the $100 is a charitable donation is just generosity on valves part as far as I’m concerned.

  20. BobbyDylan says:

    I think that’s fair

  21. Hoaxfish says:

    Do we actually have a concrete understanding of the point at which a game goes from Greenlight to “accepted”… the highest rating I’ve seen is 3% of an unknown number.

    As far as I’m aware, no game has been greenlight yet.

    As to the listing-fee, I wouldn’t mind a choice of charities, or maybe a straight refund on a successful project.

    • Dominic White says:

      There is no set-in-stone approval point. Even if a game hits 100% approval, it wouldn’t automatically get put on the store. It’s just a ranking system so that Valve can pick and choose what they put on their store next.

      People seem to forget that Steam isn’t the iOS app store. They have a finite number of releases every week, and Valve help developers pick price-points, manage sales, help with marketing, etc. It’s why even tiny indie devs end up making a lot of money on Steam, wheras iOS is a dog-eat-dog fight to the death for any kind of visibility.

    • HothMonster says:

      Project Zomboid is at is at 28%. Black Mesa is 23%. I doubt the goal is to hit 100% though, I am sure people at steam are looking at the popular ones already. At this point its probably an arbitrary algorithm to give the end user some kind of gauge to see how projects they voted for are doing. After the system has been in place for awhile it may become more exact/realistic.

  22. lizzardborn says:

    I think this is ok. And although I can see a situation where someone has choice between health insurance this month or greenlight, and this is a choice no one has to make. Almost every other thing will be worse for developers – if steam has internal team for review – that’s appstore, with all the lack of transparency. And the team salary will have to come from somewhere. If they request playable demo – that is even more of a drag – having internal build to a closed door presentation where you control the variables in one thing, but to make sure it works ok out in the wild it will mean that developers could only publish games that are in QA stage and their window for greenlight is very short. Even Giana demo had issues and it was fairly advanced in the development. And if you have game that is that close to release it is better to just go kickstarting as a way of preorders and have some more breathing room.

  23. Alexandros says:

    Personally, I think this was both a great move and absolutely necessary. Having read Alec Meer’s tweet about the issue, I’d like to comment that I want more good indie games on Steam, not more indie games in general.

  24. randomnine says:

    Just to throw my hat in: Yes, I can find $100 to cover this. It’s not a big expense, relatively speaking. However, it’s money I could put towards making my game better and it’s money I’d miss.

    Submitting stuff to Greenlight (or direct to Valve beforehand) was free. There are other ways to solve the problem of troll posts via community effort, like peer review or sandboxing submissions until some civic-minded types have had a look at them. The fee could be much lower and still deter abuse.

    I’m looking at $100 out of pocket and I’m not totally sure why. $100 is a copy of Sony Vegas Platinum to cut better trailers with. It’s a bunch of sound effects off SoundDogs. It’s enough to test out a new artist. It’s two days of living expenses to keep working on the game.

    It’s money I can find, yes, but it’s money I could use.

    • AyaSyameimaru says:

      Personally I feel you’re approaching this from the wrong stage of development. No matter what it may have been initially advertised as, I’ve never felt that Greenlight was something that you should embark upon if your project is still in development. To me Greenlight was more of a method of building interest, a way of shouting “HEY I MADE A THING WOULD YOU GUYS LIKE IT?” while you either finalised it’s development or published it via alternative means.

      If you need $100 for Sony Vegas, additional media assets or to trial a new artist then hell YES you should go ahead with that first – development should always come first, however, once things start to wind down and you approach that glorious v1.0, consider the following – for just a $100 donation you can advertise your game on a system that holds over 25 million user accounts.

      Greenlight’s true power doesn’t come from the chance to get on Steam, it comes from its ability to throw your game in the face of thousands of people who are actively out there looking for new games to like.

      • randomnine says:

        That approach has merit, but equally I think there’s merit to listing on Greenlight as soon as the project looks interesting and building up followers and votes over the long haul. Valve definitely positioned Greenlight as somewhere indies could do this, though some features that would support that approach haven’t made it in yet.

    • Lemming says:

      You mention that submitted to Valve beforehand was free, but wasn’t it also an indeterminate amount of time that you’d get a response? And wasn’t it also a possibility that when you did get that response, it’d be a no?

      Isn’t it better to pay $100 (to a charity, remember) and bang, done – you’re on there for people to decide whether your game sounds as good as you think it does instead of 2-3 people at Valve deciding that over a period of weeks/months?

      • RobF says:

        Valve still decide what goes on Steam. That part hasn’t changed.

        Automatic approval is a massive, massive number that likely doesn’t improve on the previous black-box time at all.

      • Shuck says:

        The wait and chance of being rejected are still there. The only things that have changed are that now you also need to pay $100 and, through external websites, create a community for the game that you can direct to your Greenlight project page to vote the game up to the point where Valve will even look at it. That’s not exactly an improvement in process.

  25. Mike says:

    You know, at one point Valve were pitching Greenlight as a place for projects from the very start of development as a sort of focal point for their community as it grew, added media and downloads and so on. I think that’s why some people find this shift weird, as this is sort of explicitly precluding that.

  26. gschmidl says:

    Umm, paying $100 to Apple doesn’t get you right to sale. It gets your app into a byzantine approval process in which it might get rejected. Plus, if you don’t renew after a year, they can yank your app whenever they want.

    • v21 says:

      That’s per year, not per game, though.

      And I’m not a huge fan of Apple App Store policies, or what they’ve made of that community.

      • Starky says:

        It isn’t per game for steam – it is a *one time* charge per developer.

  27. JFS says:

    “$100 is a lot for me right now, because I’ve released all of my games [thus far] for free, and I’m supporting myself on freelance work and contracts till I get my first ‘real’ game done,” said Dames aking Games founder and It’s Not Okay, Cupid developer Zoe Quinn. “That’s eating for a month.”

    Where the heck does that girl live? I live in Germany, where there’s arguably the hardest competition worldwide in the grocery/supermarket sector and thus the cheapest pricing for food in the Western world, and I tell you that you ain’t gonna get eating for a month for 100 US-$, not even here. Unless maybe you live solely on pasta with pesto (and then say goodbye to your physical health).

    • lizzardborn says:

      I think in Boston, and as living in Easter Europe during the changes in the 90s – you will be amazed how far any amount of money can be stretched if you are desperate and with nonexistent social safety net. The sad thing is that this Dame with just a mention on RPS got more eyeballs on her projects than she could probably have bought for 100$ on steam.

      Indies have visibility problem, and with the insanely low S/N ratio greenlight is not helping at all at solving this.

    • kyrieee says:

      If you can’t eat for 3-4$ a day it just means you haven’t tried.

    • pakoito says:

      Breakfast, Croissant: 39c. Lunch, noodles: 50c. Dinner is a bowl of milk with cereal or a sandwich, ~1€.

      Change pastry, add the eventual frozen pizza (1.7€), maybe some veggies…you can live under 5€ a day in Germany.

      • JFS says:

        Yeah, maybe. Let’s say it’d work, but it’d be hard. Now add it up, say 4 € a day, which is VERY little. Makes, guess what, 120 fucking € a month, whereas her 100 $ would be 79 €. Even the below 2 – 3 € in Berlin (most likely to be the cheapest city in Germany if you know how to do it) would be more than her 100 bucks. I don’t know about Boston, maybe they still have those prices from the old movies, “Burger 80c”, but I just don’t believe it. In Poland, maybe, in Russia, okay, in the 90’s, I’ll give you that, but not in the Western part of the world in this day and age.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I spent a while on a (quite healthy!) diet consisting almost entirely of rice, lentils (cheap in bulk at Turkish stores), and frozen vegetables. You can definitely survive in Berlin spending €2-3 per day on food. Fresh vegetables at the Maybachufer market would have been even cheaper, but I’m lazy.

    • GameCat says:

      In some countries, like mine (Poland), $100 is a lot of cash. It’s ~330 PLN (local currency). I pay 350 PLN per month to rent a room with a friend, so I can study in another city than my hometown.
      Also I pay like 400-500PLN per month for food and some CDs, going to cinema, bus tickets etc.
      So if I would want to put my game on steam, I must pay like 1/3 of money that I have pay to live for one month. O_O

  28. HaVoK308 says:

    They definitely needed to do something. I spent more time reporting then I did rating. I think a $25 fee would have done fine. Or they could have actually moderated the thing.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      “Or they could have actually moderated the thing.”

      This is my main problem with Greenlight. Their whole revamped Community setup is simply a tool that allows Valve to completely ignore their responsibilities as a social-minded service provider and puts the burden of, well, everything on top of the community’s members.

      I don’t think their new Community has been working out as well as Valve thought it would in the beginning. They certainly didn’t put much fucking thought into any of it.

  29. DickSocrates says:

    $1 would have put off most people. The poorest indie dev may be able to scrape together $100, but they may be living hand to mouth and this is another damn pressure leading to their suicide.


    • Infinitron says:

      OCCUPY STEAM! We are the 99 percent!

    • woodsey says:

      That’s it, get out the most overly-dramatic reactions out of the way first. $100 really isn’t anything, and whilst I appreciate that a dev themselves may not be able to foot the bill, I’m sure most might have a family member or two to help them out.

      (Asking to borrow £70 is hardly the world’s most desperate attempt to get an investment.)

      Alternatively, they could just wait a few months before they put the game on to save up the money.

  30. StranaMente says:

    I think that even after the revamp of the page they’re still missing the “ignore this” button.
    There are genres I don’t like much but have probably rare gems for those who are into that sort of thing. I don’t want to prevent people from enjoying the things they like, but on the other hand I don’t want to check every time through all those games.

    • Gnoupi says:

      The “No thanks/Not interested” is an ignore button now. It doesn’t influence the score anymore.

    • nasKo says:

      The downvote button (or now “NO”) doesn’t affect the positives votes. It just prevents the game from showing up in the “games to rate” tab.

  31. nasKo says:

    I am worried about he free to play games and (promising) HL2 mods on Greenlight.
    Or did they add a workshop page for HL2?

  32. Gnoupi says:

    Also quite important, they changed the voting system. Now it’s “Would you buy this game if it were available in Steam?”, and the choices are “Yes” or “No thanks/Not interested”.

    The second choice is not an actual downvote, it’s just what it says, “not interested”. It doesn’t influence the percentage for the game, it only puts the game as “already voted” for you.

  33. Desmolas says:

    I think this is fair. If the developer isn’t confident that their game is good enough to be liked by their customers, and isnt confident enough to pay $100 to potentially get on the biggest PC digital-distribution platform in the world and make their money back 1000 fold, then what the hell are they making games for.

  34. magnus says:

    Just to save time because I just can’t be arsed to look, how many ‘Steam is evil’ posts have appeared?

    • Emeraude says:

      Obviously all the post up till yours.

      Steam being universally hated and reviled, and all that.

  35. Ganrao says:

    Good on Steam, that is a solid solution to the problem. Consider that if a game gets listed it will make back that $100 in the first minute, I think it is a fair risk to take. It also encourages developers to build up a fan following BEFORE trying to get on Steam, which is wise because then they have a number of people who are already willing to buy it on Steam and their Steam friends will all see it, etc…

    I wonder if Penny Arcade could have ever imagined they’d get to work directly with Valve for their charity effort :O

    • RobF says:

      “Consider that if a game gets listed it will make back that $100 in the first minute”

      If the game gets listed on the storefront. The fee doesn’t actually get you that though, it gets you the opportunity to try and get listed on the storefront with no promises.

  36. woodsey says:

    It seems to me they can either pay £70 or so and, at the very least, get some exposure and publicity, or they can try and submit it on the service as it is and be buried beneath a wave of trolls.

    And let’s not forget: the whole point of this is that they have a greater chance of getting on to Steam, and sooner, than was possible with the old system.

  37. faelnor says:

    I’d like it better if they offered other a choice of the charity organization.

  38. ITSSEXYTIME says:

    I wonder if marketers will ever put their AAA games on Greenlight as a way of advertising the game. I can just see the “Like us on Facebook/Follow us on Twitter/VOTE FOR US ON STEAM GREENLIGHT” links right now. I mean if they’re big enough it’s not like they stand any chance of being rejected, and I could see it being used to generate hype for a game’s release.

  39. TCM says:

    If you can’t afford to put one hundred dollars towards getting your game on quite possibly the largest and most influential portal that exists for digital distribution, you are not a business, you are a hobbyist.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      What an ignorant outlook.

      • TCM says:

        No, seriously. If $100 is too much money for you to invest in your business, it’s a business you should not be in.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Some of the best games are made by hobbyists.

      • TCM says:

        I absolutely agree.

        I am just saying that a hobbyist doesn’t really need to be on steam or make a profit on their game, they do it _because it is a hobby_.

    • Shortwave says:

      I agree 100% dude.

      As someone who’s studying business, the profit margin for a hundred dollar investment in this market in theory can be hilariously out of this world. And if you believe in your product and have passion for it. Setting down that bill can hardly be considered a leap of faith by any means.

      Ultimately, exactly as you said.. If you can’t even do that, just put down the games and stick to your real current job. Or stop harassing mommy for another twenty for a steam sale.. Get your life on track and then consider getting back into making games. For anyone with an actual life, job and a GOAL to achieve, that hundred dollars is pocket change.

      With the cause behind it aside entirely even..

  40. derbefrier says:

    100 bucks isn’t a lot of money if you have a job, if you dont have a job quit being a strain on society and go get one or get a 2nd job for a week if you need too. This isn’t out of reach for those determined, not by a long shot, it only puts it out of reach for the lazy. Which if a indie dev is too lazy to pick up a second job for a week to get his game on steam then I would have doubts about the quality of the game as well. Honestly those complaining are just being lazy and have a lack ambition not a quality i like to see in a developer.

    • Shortwave says:

      Well said dude, a great point there.

      I seriously wouldn’t want to even look at a game made by a guy who can’t even get off his ass to get a bill in his pocket.

      I’m sure there is always exceptions, like that random schizophrenic kid in his moms basement who’ll actually do something mind blowing but is too mental to go outside.. But that’s a rarity I’m sure of course. HA.

  41. TechnicalBen says:

    Is it bad that I’ve heard the phrase “I have bills to pay and 17 cats to provide for.” IRL? :(

    Oh, back to Greenlight, I guess they had to do something. I would expect the $100 fee would have been a better idean alone than adding Greenlight. Both together seems off balance, one or the other Ok.

  42. Inigo says:

    What if I have both a game I intend to publish and $100, but I still want to see terminally ill children suffer?

    • Groove says:

      You could always apply to Greenlight then release a swarm of bees into a children’s ward. That’s probably about $100 worth of suffering, depending on child density.

  43. SuperTim says:

    $100 is not much, because 1) they can always increase the price of the Steam version of the game (after all, you thought it was fair, right?), 2) you get lots of people talking about it just because it’s on Steam, and 3) Valve has a monopoly for Steam and therefore they could have charged one million dollars and you’d still have to pay for it. :-)

  44. YeOldeSnake says:

    I am an independent game developer living in a country that has really been affected by the economic crisis. I am struggling to get through each month’s bills/rent and i really cannot afford to spend the extra 100$ (90 euros in my case which is more than 100$). Really glad i got to submit my game before the payment was enforced but Valve has to find another alternative or reduce the cost.

    • Starky says:

      Frankly mate, if you don’t have a big enough community/sales for your game that you could afford that $100 – then your game should not be on steam.

      If your game had any chance at all of getting on to steam, you should easily be able to fine a few dozen people willing to put in $5 to help you out (via kickstarter or something).

      If you can’t manage that – then clearly no one wants your game, and neither will steam.

  45. mikmanner says:

    That’s a shame, I have a couple of quite experimental ideas I wanted to put on there to see what sort of feedback I would get and to try and figure out if they are marketable ideas, but I don’t really want to just throw away 100 quid on posting stuff people might not like.

    Maybe I was intending to use Greenlight incorrectly though, maybe it’s just for quite polished and well developed games nearing release?

    Also $100 per game?! Apple licence is $100 per year!

    • TCM says:

      $100 one time. Not per game.

      • RedViv says:

        Indeed. A single time. One Ben for your company to be able to post their games there. Foreverrrr.
        Something that seems to be overlooked by many.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          Wait… that makes it much worse then, by my estimation. If you’ve paid your $100 one-time fee, you are now basically incentivised to spam Greenlight with as many crappy submissions as possible, to get the maximum ‘bang for your buck’. This, if anything, distorts the system in favour of those companies that can make a large number of submissions, instead of indie artisans polishing up one single great work.

      • mikmanner says:

        A cool. That’s much better! Haha

    • jonfitt says:

      They want to know what should be published, and what can be ignored.
      It’s not necessarily a focus test function for people with an idea. That is unless you value that focus testing at $100, which when you think of the time and money you could save by not working on something nobody wants, suddenly becomes a bargain!

  46. Eclipse says:

    If you think $100 is too much do humanity a favor and don’t upload your shitty game on GreenLight! you’ll save $100 and both users and more serious developers will be way happier to have a cleaner service. Thank you.

    • Artist says:

      Wow, what an ignorant personality you have! Is it easy to live with that?

  47. Vinraith says:

    I’d have a lot more sympathy for the entire Greenlight system if which games have to go through it weren’t totally arbitrary. I can’t help but read this whole thing as:

    Dear Developer,

    We at Steam have deemed your game unworthy of our glorious service. We may deign to reconsider if you give a “donation” to charity and convince a horde of your followers to petition us for your entry. We have spoken!


    Or, you know, you could just go buy your niche games on a service that isn’t full of its own crap. It would be one thing if there were actually a quality filter in place on Steam, but I don’t know where a service that hosts at least a dozen Diner Dash clones gets off telling anyone they have to jump through hoops.

  48. MythArcana says:

    Valve is diabolical and always has been. And Crap is now King on sale for $1.99! (Purchase the color DLC for an extra 50 cents!) : \

  49. Premium User Badge

    Buzko says:

    That’s eating for a month.

    Who is this person, and where do they live that they can eat for a month on $100?

    • MrTambourineMan says:

      My thoughts exactly!

      • Groove says:

        An ex-housemate of mine lived on £1 a day for a couple of weeks. It involved baking his own bread and making pizzas with it (flour, yeast, tomato puree and bulk mozzerela).

        Frankly I’ve lived on £3 a day before really comfortably, without skipping meals or having low calorie intake. I know that’s not the same as $100, but it’s close enough.

        • Starky says:

          I’ve lived on just over £1 a day more than comfortably – sure it wasn’t steak dinner every night, but it wasn’t even close to malnutrition.
          Hell I even remember the list to this day (though to be fair it was only like 5 years ago – so I bet you could still manage it today in the UK, at least in the north where food is a bit cheaper).

          Rice 5Kg (£3)
          Onions 2KG bag (£2)
          Potatoes 15KG bag (£5)
          Carrots (1kg) (£1)
          Value baked beans 10 tins (£3)
          Value ramen style noodles x15 (£2)
          Bread from a local bakery for like 10p a loaf (or just tesco value bread if they were out) £3
          Frozen fish for like £2 for a 1kg bag (not the best cuts, perfectly good).
          Milk (2 litres a week) – £4
          Breakfast cereal (value porridge oats),
          2kg sugar £1.5
          flour (2 KG) £1
          2 dozen eggs £2
          Veg + Chicken stock cubes £1
          Frozen sausages (40), and value burgers(20) (£2)
          Frozen oven chips (5kg) £3

          Came to around £35-38 a month (depending on luck and sales) for a months worth of food. With a few treats (chocy biscuits or some such).

          Hell it was probably a healthier diet than I eat now (when I spend more like £100 a month).

          • AlwaysRight says:

            Student days, bag of frozen Z-class chicken breasts from Iceland and a George Foreman grill.
            …I can’t believe that I’ve ended up as a massive food snob after the crap I used to live off.

    • jonfitt says:

      Ramen noodles 3 times a day at $0.10 each, is $9/month, add in a little bit for the occasional piece of fruit. The rest goes on booze (possibly cigarettes).

  50. Unaco says:

    How much is it to enter the IGF these days? Where would the money be better spent… Greenlight or this?