I get why GOG struggles to bring some of the bigger publishers on-board, but indie games are the lowest of low-hanging fruit -- these games should be easy
to bring over.
Let's go over costs for those lowest of lows, shall we?
Assume the contract requires 10 hours to complete. If you've ever had any contracts written up, you'll know that is the bare minimum for it. Even if their lawyer is on retainer, let's assume his cost is $50/hour, which (again) is on the low end of the spectrum. We've gone up to $500 already.
Next, compatibility and performance testing. They have 20 machines on their test lab (at least 20 is the number I recall), so shall we assume 10 hours of testing per machine again, even though that may be barely enough for some games. For the testing, let's say minimum wage, $7/hour. That gives us $1400 for testing, and that testing will take time which could be used to test patches or fixes for other issues instead.
So, a bare minimum of $1900 for a new publisher of one game seems like a good baseline. GOG takes a 30% cut of the sales, so assuming a $9.99 game, they will have to sell ~500 units at full price to break even. How many people would buy a 6-month old indie game at full price, much less a 2+ years old? Most would wait for a sale instead, hoping for a 75% off. So the lowest of the low fruits would have to sell 2000 units to break even.
If you lower the price of the game, you need to sell more units, though you increase the chance of impulse purchases. If the price is higher than $9.99, you do need to sell less units, but impulse purchases are less frequent.
So, if you assume that each wishlist vote is a guaranteed sale (it's not), you see why the "several hundred votes" indie games may be ignored. Getting them here will be a financial loss instead of a financial gain. Go for the "couple of thousand votes" ones instead.
P.S. Feel free to correct my wage estimates, no idea if the $7/hour for testing is correct or not, or if the $50/hour for lawyers is viable either.
I'm a lawyer, and I work in business development in the games industry, so while I don't know what GOG's precise costs are, I get how the process typically works.
Legal fees should be minimal. There's probably a standard agreement in place that requires no actual input from a lawyer, and in the case of big publishers where an addendum of some sort is needed... well, I'm sure GOG retains a lawyer who deals with that stuff on the side as part of their salaried work. In any case, it wouldn't affect indie games.
The testing aspect I 'm less privy to, simply because I have no idea how GOG does things. But really, how many man hours could that take? 10 hours per machine seems overzealous. Even ten hours total, across all test rigs, seems a bit much for most indie games. And the simple fact of the matter is, with indie games, it's not like you're ensuring an old game's compatibility on modern systems. It's the same thing as you'd get on Steam, and if there aren't a bevy of complaints there, it's probably fine. Hell, even with testing processes in place, Worms: World Party Remastered was still foisted on us in all its busted glory.
The point is, the costs probably aren't so extreme that it doesn't make sense to allow more indie games onto the platform. And I doubt the votes system has much sway with indie games, anyway. Was Guild of Dungeoneering really such a hot commodity for... anyone?