Steam Greenlight - Is this a good thing?

Valve recently launched Greenlight, their voting platform for indie games submission on Steam, but some indie developers aren't too keen with it.

Greenlight was thought up as a way to integrate Steam's online community with the service's approval process for getting game's published on the site. The service will allow you search, comment, rate, and ultimately track indie submissions through those select games' screenshots, videos, and informational releases.

Valve's idea behind Greenlight was to put the players in the publishing process - as a large number of PC gamers have certain indie developers they follow. This way those players would be able to see their favorite small-time devs get their games on Steam. Sounds good in premise, right?

Everything appeared to be going swimmingly until Valve announced yesterday that the Greenlight service would require a $100 entry-fee to have your games listed. It's a fine idea - if nothing else than well intentioned (it's meant to stop fake listings, players posing as developers, and just those of you who are being jerks) - but the idea has several indie developers up in arms.

Several indie developers, interviewed recently by PC Gamer, claim that the $100 fee is just too steep for struggling developers who intended to use Greenlight as way to cut costs on getting their games out there.

Chris “Lemmy” Simpson, The Indie Stone (Project Zomboid)

“To be honest since we’re doing well on Greenlight, and would be able to afford the $100 ourselves should we have to pay it, it’s difficult to be completely objective on the subject. I will say that the fee move was predicted and even championed by numerous Steam users and indie devs because of the ridiculous amount of spam and joke games that were very quickly eroding user faith in Greenlight and risking the future of the entire system. I certainly don’t disagree with it in concept.

“On the other hand $100 does seem pretty steep, and the worry is that perhaps misguided young hopefuls (think round one of X-Factor) who are destined to get shot down by the community will stump up money they can’t really afford for the privilege.

“I’m still of the belief that you need to foster a community prior to Greenlight to have success on there, and think we’d likely be bottom of the pile if we hadn’t already done that. So I don’t really think it’ll crush any indie dreams that wouldn’t have been crushed by the old system anyway. It frustrates me when a lot of devs say there is no money to be made outside Steam.

“While obviously there is a clear chasm of difference between being on Steam or not, when we’re talking about $100, if you’re not capable of drumming up support to that figure via a donate button then maybe your game isn’t at the stage of development it should be on Greenlight in the first place. I just wouldn’t like to see some naive but enthusiastic ten-year-old kid getting his money off his granddad to pay the fee and get it up there, to be torn apart.”[quote] While Greenlight's $100 fee might be too steep for some developers, there are those who feel that $100 is a justifiable cost to use a service that could propel their games to another level.

[quote]Chris Delay, Introversion (Darwinia)

“I think the $100 fee is a thoroughly sensible idea. Greenlight has already been flooded by a ton of fake entries, which completely drown out the developers genuinely trying to use the system. By setting this fee they will put a stop to that. I don’t think any serious indie developers will consider $100 unaffordable – it’s certainly a worthwhile investment for the chance to be listed on Steam. However this fee will be enough to stop pranksters filling up the listings with Half-Life 3.”
So while Valve may be doing a service to small-time developers and crowdsourcing the ability to vote on your favorite indie titles, a fee to do so may prove too costly for some which would defeat the purpose altogether.

What do you think? Is Greenlight a good idea?