I’ve been pumped for Steam Greenlight ever since Valve announced it, mainly because I wanted to take an active hand in helping out some indie devs without actually having to pay them (natch). However, the Greenlight interface is a mess, and when I last checked it out, it was inundated with joke listings and lawsuits-in-waiting. One guy even tried to upload Minecraft (the only screenshot provided was one of a poorly-built penis tower, which technically counts I guess, considering it was an in-game shot). I managed to upvote a few deserving games like Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Slender: Source, and La-Mulana, but that was it before I got frustrated by all the crap I was wading through and decided to ignore Greenlight from then on.
A few days ago, Steam announced that Greenlight users would have to pay $100 in order to upload any future games to Steam. They admitted it was only to keep out the riff-raff and they had no need to profit from these fees, so they promised all of the money would go to Child’s Play. Given Valve’s already godlike reputation amongst the gaming community, they could’ve easily absorbed the slight PR hit of “Megacorp Charges Indies For Game Submissions,” but they preempted any of that talk with the Child’s Play move, which was a shrewd one on their part. Because everybody loves charity, right?
Ben Kuchera over at the Penny Arcade Report feels like the $100 fee is not a good answer to the Greenlight spam problem, but he’s wrong. The response from the gaming community has been overwhelmingly positive (which says a lot considering how quick hardcore gamers are to jump to the indies’ defenses these days), and for good reason. The $100 fee is a one-time payment that allows the user to upload as many Greenlight games as he or she desires, and it’s sufficiently steep enough to keep the trolls and other less-serious folks away. Kuchera seems to think that any fee would keep the trolls away, but even $5 is sufficiently low enough for some jackass to think, “yeah, this’ll be worth it,” throw away a fiver, and go and upload DICKS: THE GAME. No, the fee has to be steep enough that only serious devs would consider paying it. It’s a good solution, and it’s achieved its desired effect by essentially making me interested in the platform once more.
However, it’s not a perfect solution, in my opinion. $100 is prohibitively expensive for some urchin who wants to cover Steam in cock pics, and while I don’t think it will send any indie devs crashing into poverty, it still seems like it could be safely dropped by a few tenners. I think $50 could achieve the same spam-filtering effect while letting indie devs keep more of their cash, too. Perhaps it could even function like a deposit system, where the $100 is returned to the dev if their game makes it onto Steam?