pushing Greenlight live, Valve implemented a $100 barrier to entry in the hopes of eliminating the barrage of prank game ideas by people who don't "fully understanding the purpose of Greenlight."
Before the fee, it was difficult to know what Greenlight was going to mean for the indie community, since its "new toy" sheen hadn't yet dissipated. It's even more difficult to gauge what Steam itself wanted Greenlight to accomplish, with or without the fee.
In its launch announcement, Valve says Greenlight will serve "as a clearing house for game submissions" and "provides an incredible level of added exposure for new games and an opportunity to connect directly with potential customers and fans." If that sounds a lot like Kickstarter, it's because it sounds a lot like Kickstarter. This isn't a bad thing; it equates Greenlight to something that has run the online course and has experienced public showdowns and successes, something known.
While a few developers benefit from the high-speed, viral-hinged community vetting of crowd-sourced creative sites, even more have failed. Still, sites such as Kickstarter truly can help raise awareness for a legitimate project, even if that interest doesn't transform into cash. In this sense, Greenlight has an advantage, in that it's not trying to raise money. It only wants attention.
Developers want their games to reach astronomical levels of awareness as well, and recently this translates into a fixation on one particular service for the success or failure of their projects – Kickstarter, and now, Greenlight. Hundreds of pitch emails switch from titles such as "Snappy the Turtle, a new indie adventure game" to "Kickstart Snappy the Turtle" or "Vote for Snappy the Turtle on Greenlight." This shifts the focus away from the game itself, in both the mind of the developer and the person receiving the emails.
Since most people receiving the emails are video games journalists and potential publishers or fans, it's safe to say they don't particularly care about Kickstarter or Greenlight – they care about the game. So should the developer, more than anything.
Those who have succeeded on the development side offer a unique perspective on Steam Greenlight. We asked a few what they think about the service, the $100 and its impact on indies: Adam Saltsman, Markus Persson, Edmund McMillen, Christine Love and a group discussion among Rami Ismail, Zach Gage, Greg Wohlwend and Mike Boxleiter. Their thoughts are below.