Steam Greenlight adds $100 submission fee

By Alice O'Connor, Sep 05, 2012 6:00am PDT

Steam Greenlight was flooded with hundreds of games, including countless hoax and illicit entries, within hours of launching last Thursday, which apparently makes it quite difficult to fulfil its purpose of filtering Steam store submissions. To bring the volume down and ward off trolls, Valve has added a $100 fee for submitting a game and improved the selection users are shown. Though Valve donates the $100 to charity, it's rubbing some indies the wrong way.

Trolls and fools flooded Steam Greenlight with submissions for everything from Battlefield 3 to Half-Life 3 and games they'd decided were 'abandonware.' Valve quickly started handing out one-week bans from Steam Community features for naughty behaviour, but clearly it wasn't enough of a deterrent.

Genuine developers, likewise, rushed to Greenlight, because being on Steam can make or break a game. Valve's move to cut down on these is more questionable. It was difficult to discover games on Greenlight, shown simply a massive list of the bajillion entries, but there are other solutions to this problem--one of which Valve has already taken.

Greenlight users are now being shown "a smaller, manageable list of games that you haven't rated," Valve's Alden Kroll explained in yesterday's announcement, "a mix of popular games and new games to Greenlight." This alone will make Greenlight more useful for many, but Valve feels the fee is warranted too.

"We have no interest in making money from this, but we do need to cut down the noise in the system," Kroll said. The fee is going straight to the children's gaming charity Child's Play, but $100 is not an inconsiderable amount for many, especially those hallowed 'bedroom coders' people are so keen on. It's worth mentioning that Child's Play is incredibly USA-centric, too.

Proteus creator Ed Key described the fee as "pretty gross to me" on Twitter, and ineffective at filtering games for quality. He opined that there are many more people "with $100 and a crap game" than there are "poor but awesome designers."

Many don't see it as such a big deal, though. Mike Bithell, whose Thomas Was Alone received $2,452 in crowd-funded support, said, "If you wouldn't bet $100 on your own game, you need to consider why any player should pay $10 for it."

Paying $100 is no guarantee that a game will be picked up by Steam, of course, merely that it'll have a shot. Many are still concerned that the sheer number of votes needed for a game to be Greenlit will inevitably favour those with very broad, face-shooty appeal. The very process of searching through Steam content will largely self-select a certain type of judge, after all. As The Path developer Tales of Tales commented, "We sort-of make games for the other half of the human spectrum. La resistance. The not-joiners. Let's hope Valve likes us."

Valve's method is to launch something in an basic state then improve, improve, improve, so Steam Greenlight will certainly be quite different in a year, but right now it's causing a little concern.

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