Good Old Games, or GOG for short, is going after Steam Greenlight in a big way by launching a new indie submission service that seems to take all the criticism leveled at Valve's feet into consideration.
Perhaps the most widely criticised aspect of Steam - both before and after Greenlight - is that it's Valve's policy not to disclose why a game was rejected. This won't be the case at GOG. "We'll tell you exactly what we think about your title," said Good Old Games in its recent announcement. "We know our users' tastes, and we do our best to present them with a selection of DRM-free games they'll enjoy. We review all submissions and pick those that offer the qualities our users value most, such as gameplay depth, originality, and a high level of polish."
"We will contact you directly to tell you how your title fits with those standards in our opinion. Whether we decide to accept your game or not, you will hear from us within two business weeks on average. We will never leave you without feedback!"
Pretty spiffy, but that's only the start. On top of this whole talking business, GOG promises to offer cash advances on royalties. There are two ways GOG deals can be arranged: The developer can fund a project themselves and split the revenue 70/30 in the developer's favour. Or GOG can give the developer and advance and split the proceeds 60/40 (also in the developer's favour) until GOG's recouped its loss from the advance, at which point the deal will revert to the usual 70/30 split. Not too shabby!
Additionally, GOG is promising to handle much of the marketing for accepted titles. "Every time we release a game on GOG.com, it gets a dedicated cross-media marketing campaign. It becomes our site's main feature, with an extra-large header banner and a frontpage news article," the company explained. "We'll also promote the release of your game to thousands of our social media followers (on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, etc.). We'll post your game's trailer on our YouTube channel and feature it in our weekly video editorial."
"We're also eager to work with you on other special events and actions to make your game's campaign unique. We love to go a bit crazy with our marketing, and we hope you'll get on board with our ideas."
Furthermore, there's no $100 fee to submit a game to GOG, as there is with Steam Greenlight. Of course, Valve explained that the only reason it had this fee was to weed out spam, so one wonders if GOG will have to resort to similar measures once its indie service gets flooded with submissions.
Unlike Greenlight, GOG's indie publishing service won't allow the public to vote, for better or worse. Some like that Valve is letting the audience have a say, while others find it turns the usual publishing submission process into a popularity contest. We'll just have to see how good a job GOG does at selecting what projects to back.
GOG's goal with this new initiative is certainly ambitious, but one wonders if it will be able to follow through on its promises. Two weeks is not a lot of time to respond to the inevitable glut of submissions that are sure to toss their hat into this ring, while the advance backing option sounds great, but GOG isn't an infinite well of money and this will certainly limit the amount of projects that get accepted. Still, it's promising a lot of features that are massively appealing to indie devs and it will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.