Opinions remain mixed on Steam Greenlight, the recently released service from Value that provides the company with a community-powered filtering mechanism for indie games. Until now, Valve hasn't really talked about what it perceives as Greenlight's successes or failures), but a recent interview with the company's Alden Kroll has pulled back the covers a little.
In the interview — which can be found in full over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun — Kroll states that Greenlight's purpose is to host games the company doesn't "really know how to evaluate" or hasn't "really heard of". Knowing which games to given precedence to was becoming an issue and Greenlight is an attempt to make that process fairer.
One of the bigger concerns with Greenlight is that it favours developers with marketing and promotional savvy, while games with novel ideas or innovative concepts, but less to spend on buzz, can struggle beyond their initial listing. Kroll's perspective on this is actually quite insightful:
"I think this applies not just to people on Greenlight, but selling games on Steam in general. [Success comes from] using channels outside of Steam. We have a big audience, sure, but Steam is not going to be a golden ticket necessarily. You also have to work on marketing and getting buzz out there. Getting people excited about your product. There's a lot of people on Steam, but they're not there every day looking at the front page."
I think it'd be a bad idea if you could just put your game on Greenlight and wait for the money to flow in. Kroll has an excellent point — being a games developer isn't just about making games, there's the business, promotional and marketing side as well and it's not something you can ignore or hope sorts itself out.
If you're going to spend money (or time) coding gameplay or making graphics, you should have some resources dedicated to getting the word out. Sure, your budget might be minimal, but it's unlikely your spending megabucks on your programming or art, either.
Valve On Steam Greenlight’s Failings, Fixing Them [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]