Steam Greenlight Adds Fee to Weed Out the Rabble

Steam Greenlight went live just days ago and was immediately inundated with games, all of them desperate to find a place on Valve’s digital release platform. Steam has a lot of eyes on it and it’s a place where even obscure games can find a pretty big audience. The idea behind Greenlight is to let community members vote on the kinds of games they want to see on the service, which could ultimately mean more games faster on Steam.

Trouble is, that’s a huge number of games, and it seems as though along with legitimate titles, Valve was getting flooded with garbage and spam and who knows what else. So now Greenlight has been changed, charging a one-time $100 fee to developers who want to push their games through on Greenlight (check out the Steam page for the fee here). Pay the fee and you get unlimited access to updating all your games on Steam — it’s not just good for a single title.

It’s also not a money-making scheme for Valve, either, according to the Greenlight page. All the proceeds for Greenlight submission fees, minus taxes, goes straight to the video game charity Child’s Play.

Valve also gave a rundown of things users agree not to post to their Greenlight accounts once they pay the fee. This might give you some idea of what the company is working to avoid:

Before you post your game to Steam Greenlight, you must agree to the following:
You own the rights to sell the game you are posting, or you have specific authorization to represent the developer
You agree to the terms and conditions of the Steam Subscriber Agreement
Additionally, you agree not post any item to Greenlight that contains the following:
Someone else’s game, unless you have specific authorization to do so
Porn, inappropriate or offensive content, warez or leaked content
Cheating, hacking, game exploits
Threats of violence or harassment, even as a joke
Games using copyright material such as assets or intellectual property without permission from the owner
Soliciting, begging, auctioning, selling, advertising, referrals racism, discrimination
Abuse of Steam Greenlight will result in forfeit of your Greenlight Submission fee and/or banning from Steam Community services.

There’s been some interesting discussion around the Intertubes since the institution of the fee. Some have pointed out that a $100 charge might be a barrier to indie game makers, while others have noted that if you can’t make $100 off your game to get it into Greenlight, your game is probably not really all that good to begin with.

What do you guys think? Is the $100 charge a barrier of entry that Valve is throwing up against some indie gamers, or is it a reasonable way of keeping Greenlight honest? And will that fee work as intended?

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7 Comments on Steam Greenlight Adds Fee to Weed Out the Rabble


On September 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I think it’s reasonable, $100 is not a huge amount of money and at least it gives a little motivation to make games that are actually good.


On September 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Unfortunately it will still take some time clear out the mess that was left in the current submissions. I’m combing through Greenlight daily, and the amount of fodder in there is remarkable. The entry fee should seriously curtail, if not completely eliminate this.

Phil Hornshaw

On September 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Ben Kuchera over at the Penny Arcade Report wrote an editorial that’s an interesting addition to this discussion, making an interesting point that the fee presents some potentially classist issues. Definitely worth a read.


On September 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I think it is a nice idea, and agree with it. Mostly because it seems like there is a huge amount of joke ideas of games on there. Hopefully the fee makes it so, those who actually intend to make games are the ones that appear.


On September 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Ben Kuchera is also someone that complained about the hold the line movement, and since then seems to get easily agitated about a lot of things, so I’m not too worried about that.

$100 is really not a lot in the scheme of things, especially if it’s a one time thing instead of per game. You paid more for your current console then this thing.


On September 5, 2012 at 6:26 pm

This isn’t too surprising. It sounds a bit like how much junk Apple had to sort through with its app store. There is going to be plenty of garbage and copy-cat material out there. And $100 isn’t a huge deal. Despite what Kuchera says, I don’t see $100 being a huge undertaking if someone is serious about getting their game out there. And since it covers all the games you want to put on the service, it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.


On September 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I think this is a good idea. 100 bucks might seem like a lot but you also have to consider that most indie games have more than one person working on it. So now 100 bucks turns into 30 or 20 bucks a person, doesnt seem so bad anymore.