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ChaosEngine

Valve introduce greenlight fee - is $100 too much?

35 posts in this topic

In order to cut down on the volume of submissions that are either jokes, offensive or non-existent, Valve have announced that [url="http://steamcommunity.com/workshop/news/?appid=765"]they are adding a $100 fee to submit to Greenlight[/url]. The fee will go to charity.

This seems reasonable to me, but apparently [url="http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/09/a-100-lottery-ticket-indies-discuss-steam-greenlights-new-fee/"]some developers feel this is too much[/url].

Really? Maybe I'm in some kind of Mitt-Romney-esque detached reality, but $100 doesn't seem like that much for me. Game development is not exactly cheap to begin with. After set up costs and investing (at least) hundreds of man hours of time, is $100 too much? Edited by ChaosEngine
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It was my understanding that anyone could release on Steam until greenlight came out. All these years I was tricked into thinking how cool and awesome Steam was, and yet it's nothing I thought it was. Apparently it charges about 30-40% for each sale too which is pretty steep for a company that I hear is built by indies for indies and innovation.

Why do they need to charge? greatness in a pool of garbage will rise to the top by votes from users. That's how iphone/android work, and that's how kickstarter works.

I think the overall issue I have with it is that when I spend money on something I want something in return. I'm paying 100 dollars for.....a tiny icon to click on greenlight in hopes that people will upvote and then after all the upvotes have second hopes that Steam will let me through? Pretty lame for 100 bucks.
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I'm seriously considering Steam Greenlight for a game I'm working on. I think it would be nice if the fee could get refunded if the game reached some minimum threshold of support (ideally less strict than actual acceptance) but it's not going to make my decision one way or another.

[quote name='dpadam450' timestamp='1346989394' post='4977481']
Why do they need to charge? greatness in a pool of garbage will rise to the top by votes from users. That's how iphone/android work, and that's how kickstarter works.
[/quote]

Well, I think "works" might be too strong of a word. Blatantly stolen and nonfunctional apps can be profitable on both iphone and android and occasionally supersede apps that are actually good. I will say it's a sign that Steam may need to tweak their algorithms if a few crappy entries being posted can ruin their service in the first few days, though.
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[quote name='dpadam450' timestamp='1346989394' post='4977481']
It was my understanding that anyone could release on Steam until greenlight came out.
[/quote]
That's [i]sort of[/i] true. Prior to Greenlight, publication on Steam was dependent on having your project reviewed and approved, which meant there was often a lengthy wait to get a response after submission (if you got a response at all), at which point your game might have been approved for sale, you might have been asked to make some changes before receiving approval, or your game might have simply been rejected. Greenlight allows anyone to publish as long as they're willing to pay the $100 fee and they get enough votes.

The result was that most people didn't get onto Steam previously. Even with the $100 fee, Greenlight should present a much lower barrier to entry.

[quote name='dpadam450' timestamp='1346989394' post='4977481']
That's how iphone/android work
[/quote]
Publishing on iOS requires a $99/year developer membership fee. Although user ratings and reviews help to a certain extend, Google's Play marketplace for Android is full of low-quality and poorly functioning apps. You're not really worse off with Steam than you are with iOS, and as cowsarenotevil says, "works" is a term than can loosely be applied to both the iOS app store and the Android marketplace.


Personally, I think the $100 fee is a good thing, and I don't think it's a particular excessive amount of money -- perhaps they could consider some system where part of the money is refunded after publishing rather than the whole amount going to charity however. Edited by jbadams
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[quote name='dpadam450' timestamp='1346989394' post='4977481']
It was my understanding that anyone could release on Steam until greenlight came out. All these years I was tricked into thinking how cool and awesome Steam was, and yet it's nothing I thought it was. Apparently it charges about 30-40% for each sale too which is pretty steep for a company that I hear is built by indies for indies and innovation.
[/quote]

Valve was built by two millionaire ex-microsoft employees. Dunno where you got the idea that it was "built by indies for indies", but it's wrong.
And 30-40% is pretty standard for this kinda thing.

[quote name='dpadam450' timestamp='1346989394' post='4977481']
Why do they need to charge? greatness in a pool of garbage will rise to the top by votes from users. That's how iphone/android work, and that's how kickstarter works.
[/quote]

It may be how android works, but it's certainly not for iOS. There's a $99 a year fee to register as an iOS developer, and then Apple still have to approve your app before it gets on the app store.

[quote name='dpadam450' timestamp='1346989394' post='4977481']
I think the overall issue I have with it is that when I spend money on something I want something in return. I'm paying 100 dollars for.....a tiny icon to click on greenlight in hopes that people will upvote and then after all the upvotes have second hopes that Steam will let me through? Pretty lame for 100 bucks.
[/quote]

Well, the alternative is to pay nothing and [b]definitely[/b] not get on Steam. It's up to you as to whether the potential of getting your game on the largest digital distribution platform on the pc is worth $100 risk. Edited by ChaosEngine
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[quote name='jbadams' timestamp='1346990707' post='4977487']
That's [i]sort of[/i] true. Prior to Greenlight, publication on Steam was dependent on having your project reviewed and approved, which meant there was often a lengthy wait to get a response after submission (if you got a response at all), at which point your game might have been approved for sale, you might have been asked to make some changes before receiving approval, or your game might have simply been rejected. Greenlight allows anyone to publish as long as they're willing to pay the $100 fee and they get enough votes.

The result was that most people didn't get onto Steam previously. Even with the $100 fee, Greenlight should present a much lower barrier to entry.
[/quote]

I thought Greenlight still had to have reviews/approvals, but they were expedited based on how popular your game is on Greenlight. I view it as a way for the community to shine the spotlight on games they want so Valve notices them ASAP.

I think a big problem is that right now people are viewing it as a discoverability platform for customers to find your game, which it is not.
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[quote name='way2lazy2care' timestamp='1347020696' post='4977593']
I thought Greenlight still had to have reviews/approvals, but they were expedited based on how popular your game is on Greenlight.
[/quote]
Yes, that's true -- sorry if I was misleading earlier. You do still need approval from Valve, but you will be noticed sooner if you're getting lots of votes, and may be able to get approval for a game that would have previously been considered unsuitable if it has enough community support.
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It's not clear to me that charging money implies quality results - indeed, it's an insult to the idea of free software. Though at least the money goes to charity.

[quote name='jbadams' timestamp='1346990707' post='4977487']
Publishing on iOS requires a $99/year developer membership fee. Although user ratings and reviews help to a certain extend, Google's Play marketplace for Android is full of low-quality and poorly functioning apps. You're not really worse off with Steam than you are with iOS, and as cowsarenotevil says, "works" is a term than can loosely be applied to both the iOS app store and the Android marketplace.[/quote]Firstly, I disagree - not had problems with Android software, and claiming one platform has poor quality is just POV and going the way of OS flamewars... But also, you're conflating charging money, with the review process that IOS requires. Plus, Google Play costs money too, albeit $25 instead of $99/year. Nokia Store OTOH is only 1 euro, but also has a review process like IOS to prevent non-functioning applications. These are separate issues.

Not that this should matter here, if a game is so bad it doesn't even function, it's not going to get support.
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[quote name='mdwh' timestamp='1347025805' post='4977629']
It's not clear to me that charging money implies quality results - indeed, it's an insult to the idea of free software. Though at least the money goes to charity.
[/quote]
I think the actual value charged is not important. Having a charge at all is a barrier that causes anybody who is not serious about it to back away. Having no barrier at all makes it really easy to troll with games that you have no intention of actually producing.

I was watching Randy Pausch's last lecture recently, and as he puts it, "The brick walls are there to keep the other people out," meaning that barriers are there to keep out people who don't care enough, not to keep everyone out.
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I think the problem is people fundamentally don't get Valve's model. Valve isn't a "plan ahead" company; Valve is a "realese this, get feedback, tweak tweak tweak." Look at Steam - it started as horrible, opaque and boycotted mess. Today it matured into PC's leading digital distribution system. Team Fortress 2 went through several (unbalanced) changes with its items system, until reaching fair stability of today, and expanding even more. Same could be said with episodic content - they tried it, and clearly, it hasn't worked out as much as they hoped.

Greenlight is no different. In the short time, they already added and removed the "required x% of votes" and changed the wording on the vote buttons.

I think Valve's plan is to get the system running for a while, collect data and improve on how it works, then maybe take like the top 10 games, and make their "success-level" (aka votes up vs. down) as the effective barrier to enter Steam. In the end, I think it's a better way than arbitrarily saying "you must get x likes" just because x felt right. Tho, I agree they could do a better job of communicating that is their approach, IF my speculations are right.


Also, they can't fairly base that number on existing sales or other website popularity, as Greenlight is a different platform (pre-digital distribution) with different level of commitment ("would you buy" != "bought/like") and community (just registered steam users willing to put in personal time to vote).

Lastly, it was all fine an dandy initially, but the $100 fee creates a bit of an expectation of [i]calculable[/i] ROI. Without knowing what one's chances are, it's hard to estimate if it's worth investing into the system (regardless of what the fee amount is). From reading a few online forums, that seems to be one of the main reasons behind the negative reaction to the fee. Edited by Koobazaur
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I think 100 USD is the minimum required to make the system perceived as serious. If lower, I'd expect it to get flooded by teen weekend programmers. Who are sometimes good but I'd say 99% shit.

I really don't know how anyone serious can have a negative reaction about that.
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[quote name='Servant of the Lord' timestamp='1347000949' post='4977510']
...Lots of good info...
[/quote]

Excellent informative post. My hat is off to you, sir.
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[quote name='derda4' timestamp='1347338661' post='4978785']
$100 once is ok but not charging about 30-40% for every purchase.
[/quote]30-40% is actually on par with or better than many other options available to indie developers, and better than you would normally expect from traditional publishers. The alternative is setting up your own distribution system, which then takes some of your time, incurs operating costs, and doesn't have the huge fan base you get with something like Steam; for most developers it works out better to be on Steam even though you're sharing the profits.
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[quote name='derda4' timestamp='1347338661' post='4978785']$100 once is ok but not charging about 30-40% for every purchase.[/quote]When I worked for a large developer that in turn worked for a large publisher, they took 100% of the first 1 million purchases, and 95% of every purchase after that.
Most of our games did not sell anywhere close to 1 million copies, so there were no royalties paid [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png[/img]
However, they did pay for most of the development costs, so we at least always almost broke-even, even though there was no profit.

Giving [b]only %30[/b] of your income to the sales & distribution part of your business is an amazing deal.
If you were to try and sell your product in physical stores, you'd be losing at least 40% of your sale price to retail/distribution overheads.

If you set up your own online store, you might pay much less for distribution ([i]assuming you get a good price from your hosting company -- keep in mind Steam lets me download terabytes of data at multiple MiB/s all around the world[/i]), however, you'd instead have to pay a fortune in advertising in order to get as many visitors to your site as people who visit the steam store. Edited by Hodgman
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[quote name='Servant of the Lord' timestamp='1347000949' post='4977510']
... And unlike alot of other companies, Steam does not request, badger, require, or attempt to purchase exclusivity...
[/quote]

Actually, while I'm not sure what the full story was with Battlefield 3, it is rumoured that Valve wanted exclusive rights to Battlefield 3. EA wanted to see their headline game on every distribution platform available. Valve do not want their games on Origin. I like steam alot and its a better system than anything else but Valve are not angels.
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[quote name='RivieraKid' timestamp='1347382072' post='4978954']
Actually, while I'm not sure what the full story was with Battlefield 3, it is rumoured that Valve wanted exclusive rights to Battlefield 3. EA wanted to see their headline game on every distribution platform available. Valve do not want their games on Origin. I like steam alot and its a better system than anything else but Valve are not angels.
[/quote]
The whole Origin vs Steam debacle was because EA [i]deliberately ([/i]As in, [i]"did so knowingly and intentionally, with forethought") [/i]violated Steam's terms of service by selling DLC through EA's system built into games to bypassing Steam, and then pretended to be the victim when Valve removed their games. Whether or not Valve should take a cut of DLC or in-game purchases is up for debate, and I'm not firmly on Valve's side on the point (but it's a complex issue), but that's not the point: it was clearly in Steam's terms of service (and had been for awhile), and EA intentionally slipped in-game non-Steam DLC purchases into [i]multiple [/i]of their recent releases [i]after[/i] they were already on Steam, forcing Valve to remove them from Steam afterward, and then EA blamed Valve and pretended they were getting bullied - which was amusing, because EA is really large, and has previously offered to buy Valve out, and most people online didn't buy into it recognizing how 'coincidentally' EA was launching their own rival service, and it was in EA's interest to claim Valve's ToS was too restrictive.

EA could've negotiated a new deal with Steam, or could've not made their DLC available to the Steam versions of the game (boycotting with entire games or just the games' DLC), or could've publicly commented on the issue and opened dialog, or could've let Valve have the cut they've always been taking without complaining... instead they snuck Origin purchasing into multiple games already on Steam at once, then acted surprised and shocked, and acted like this was something new Steam added to the ToS. It had nothing to do with Valve demanding exclusivity; it had to do with profit sharing from DLC, and EA acting like a child to raise awareness of Origin instead of negotiating a better deal.

[[url="http://www.1up.com/news/even-retail-copies-battlefield-3-require-origin"]Even non-Origin digital sales require Origin to be installed[/url]]
[[url="http://www.1up.com/news/battlefield-3-absence-steam-blamed-restrictive-tos"]Battlefield 3's Absence on Steam Blamed on Restrictive Terms of Service[/url]]

EA was 100% in the wrong in this case, in my opinion.
I don't agree with everything Valve does; nor do I think they are perfect... but they are a lot better than EA.

Here was Valve's response after the whole debacle:
"[i]I think at the end of the day we're going to prove to EA they have happier customers, a higher quality service, and will make more money if they have their titles on Steam. It's our duty to demonstrate that to them. [u]We don't have a natural right to publish their games[/u].[/i]" [[url="http://www.techspot.com/news/45133-valve-boss-we-want-eas-games-on-steam.html"]Valve's response[/url]]

[i]That[/i] is a good response. EA during that time went around [url="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-07-11-valve-counters-eas-steam-sales-cheapen-intellectual-property-accusation"]criticizing everything it could think of[/url] about Steam, and hinting heavily that Origin is a better choice for developers.

If one company (Valve) has a reputation of integrity and openness and of working with and alongside developers and customers, and another company (EA) has a history of abusing other developers and customers, then they get into a public spat of some kind, why would you believe the company with the proven track-record of deceit?
Again, as you mentioned, Valve isn't an angel. But at the same time, past events have earned them more trust, and lost EA trust. If a situation is unknown, I'm going to give Valve the benefit of the doubt, and EA I'm going to scrutinize harder looking for ulterior motives... and since they 'just so happened' to launch their own rival distribution store at the same time, you didn't have to look too far at all.
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[quote name='Alan Greenspan' timestamp='1347393185' post='4979026']
The average person SHOULD be able to make, in essence, $100 an hour (this is INCLUDING their investment income, obviously it is difficult to rake in $100 on salary alone, except for the very best people.)
[/quote]

You're kidding right? The national median [b]household[/b] income in the US is $45000 (or ~$21 an hour). Do tell me where you think they'll make up the other $79 an hour.
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[quote name='Alan Greenspan' timestamp='1347393185' post='4979026']
It is too much... If you can't manage your money, at least.
[/quote]
I agree with this.

[quote name='Alan Greenspan' timestamp='1347393185' post='4979026']
The average person SHOULD be able to make, in essence, $100 an hour (this is INCLUDING their investment income, obviously it is difficult to rake in $100 on salary alone, except for the very best people.)
[/quote]
I heavily disagree with this: I imagine many of the indies who would make use of Greenlight would be young, maybe early 20s. I'd be surprised if any of these people had any kind of job earning them $50 an hour, and even more surprised if they had enough investments to earn another $50/hour off of.

But I'm gonna go ahead and guess you just wanted to troll a little more.
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Another important point is that Valve found itself without option about its Game Selection.
They receive thousands of emails about games that want to be published on Steam, and its few employees that took care of the selecion could not bare anymore this "burden".
Besides great games could be shadowed by bigger AAA publications that should be selected first.

With Greenlight they can make thousands of customers highlight their list of what is interesting or not. And then the game selection should be more fair to small indie game developers.

@OP
The $100 is pretty reasonable.
The fact that this money is going to donation makes it very easy to pay.
After developing a full game that is ready to be released, donating 100 bucks is the least concern of a game developer.
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Late to the topic, but:
[quote name='ChaosEngine' timestamp='1347400872' post='4979078']
[quote name='Alan Greenspan' timestamp='1347393185' post='4979026']
The average person SHOULD be able to make, in essence, $100 an hour (this is INCLUDING their investment income, obviously it is difficult to rake in $100 on salary alone, except for the very best people.)
[/quote]

You're kidding right? The national median [b]household[/b] income in the US is $45000 (or ~$21 an hour). Do tell me where you think they'll make up the other $79 an hour.
[/quote]
Yeah, $100 in an hour is stupid... but going by that median value, in five hours you already reached $100. You can get that easily in a single work day, and then some more. Still doesn't look unreasonable. The problem may be in countries where salaries are much lower but cost of life isn't as low in proportion.

Then again, if you ever plan to release a commercial game, you're probably going to need way more than $100 to cover many other costs too...
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I have no problem paying to host a game (unless I am making a free game); it costs $100 annually for an iOS dev license for instance.

I don't see why they decided to give it to charity, or make a big deal over it - that smacks of insecurity and appeasement. I'd just say "we're introducing a $100 fee" and leave it at that.
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