Steam Greenlight’s still a contentious way to do business. The $100 cost of entry, the required cheer-leading, it’s a lot of effort for no guarantee. And while I get the idea of having an established community is important, I’m glad I’m not an indie developer attempting to shout above the noise on there. GOG.com’s new indie submission portal seems to have taken in a lot of the criticisms of Steam’s hand-off approach and applied those lessons to their new venture: they’re looking for indie developers to submit games to their indie portal, with the company promising to “We’re not machines. We talk.” Ouch!
But that’s just an opening gambit of a service that looks to be a deliberate attempt to avoid Greenlight’s pit-falls. You submit the game to GOG and not the community. They’ll be the gate-keeper of what ends up on their service, which means there are number of things they can do. For example: “We’ll tell you exactly what we think about your title. We know our users’ tastes, and we do our best to present them with a selection of DRM-free games they’ll enjoy. We review all submissions and pick those that offer the qualities our users value most, such as gameplay depth, originality, and a high level of polish. We will contact you directly to tell you how your title fits with those standards in our opinion. Whether we decide to accept your game or not, you will hear from us within two business weeks on average. We will never leave you without feedback!”
I hope indies don’t just submit games to get cheap consultancy. Excitingly, if you make it onto GOG, they’ll even help you out financially. The average industry cut is 70/30 in the developer’s favour, but GOG will provide a “royalty advance”, and then split the cut 60/40 until the advance is paid off, then switch to the 70/30 split when it’s covered. They’ll also provide marketing support, but advertising on social media and the like is usual on GOG.
Here are a few indies talking excitedly about the idea.
It’s not perfect, but I think the accountability is the most important aspect here, and I think GOG know that as well. Would you rather take pot-luck, or have the option to have your work critiqued by professionals for free?