OPINION: Yes, $100 is too much to charge users of Steam Greenlight

$100. That is much it will cost for users to register to submit their games on Greenlight.

And it’s proved a very divisive issue.

My opinion is perfectly clear – I think $100 is vastly excessive. Whether you agree with me or not depends completely on which side of the following argument you fall on.

On the one hand, you may see Greenlight as another possible route to market for developer startups akin to iOS or Xbox Live Indie Games. If you’re seriously about establishing yourself a full time (or even part time) games developer then $100 is a tiny investment to kickstart your future.

After all, you’ve invested time in this project. You’re committed. You’re telling you can’t find 63? Get out of my face you joker and leave this to those who are serious, OK?

On the other hand, you might see Greenlight as an opportunity for Steam to tap into and empower a whole new universe of untapped amateur talent. If so, then you’ll likely agree with me – the $100 is killing the potential of the service.

Anyone can invest time. Time is free(ish), and we can all go without sleep and food, right? And we can all find $100, can’t we?

Yes, I can find 63 when my daughter’s school shoes fall apart. Or if the fridge breaks. Or if I get a flat on the car. If we haven’t got the money that month, then I’ll ask the Bank of Mum & Dad. I’ll feel like shit about it and dwell on the fact that at the age of 33 I still can’t independently support my family, but I’m not having my daughter go without.

And don’t accuse me of exaggeration – when I get paid each month the first thing I do is pay the largest of the regular bills. That leaves me with pretty much sweet FA. Mrs Ben gets paid a week later. She pays off the next set of bills. Some months we’re left with a staggering low three figure amount to feed the family and live on as human beings for an entire month.

We have a shared bank account. If I forked out 63 to submit a game for possible publication on Steam she would quite literally have my balls off. London is expensive. She’s been made redundant twice since 2008 and earns well below what her qualifications should entitle her to. Sorry about that.

And I’m sorry if you feel 63 is chicken feed. Lucky you. But newsflash – for lots of us it is not.

Which doesn’t matter at all if you see Greenlight as a business opportunity. But I don’t. I see it is an outlet for all of those ideas that sit bottled up in someone’s brain as they scan items on the checkout, sit it queues on the M25 in an HGV or type figures into a spreadsheet.

And I thought that’s what Valve saw it as too. Obviously not.

I won’t argue that a fee or barrier of sorts will likely improve the service. But what I am arguing is that $100 is vastly too excessive. Would $10 not do it? If you’re some joker then even $10 is going to make you think twice about submitting your Wobbly Cock Simulator. That will eek out the chaff.

Yes, those who are really, really dedicated could save up over many months and maybe scrape the cash together. But why on earth would we want them to do that? Is it prerequisite that submitters must somehow prove themselves? Why not have them subjected to a day’s flogging with an HDMI cable and a Krypton Factor test in which they must construct an accurate representation of a Wheatley out of cabbage leaves? Then we’ll know who REALLY gives enough of a toss.

UPDATE: Readers have asked that I clarify again (as was said in our other coverage) that the $100 fee is donated to charity. Though in my opinion that is completely besides the point.

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