Are Game Portals Evil?

Portals (the downloadable games part) business model in a nutshell goes something like this:

Step #1: Pour lots of money marketing the game portal and attract developers to sell games via the system.
Step #2: Take 50-70% cut from sales and go to step #1.

That’s a “little” simplified model, but that’s the basic core. Of course one must add lots of elements such as hiring and firing people, customer support, developer relations, game wrapping, the many elements in marketing and promoting games and so on. In the end the profit making (for downloadable games) still often boils down to those 2 steps: get lots of games to lots of people and take a decent cut.

The good thing portals have is that they fund sometimes game development and naturally can reach wide audiences (that would be otherwise very difficult for starting indies), but on the other hand they also take a neat piece of the profits – too much for some people.

What’s your take on this? Are game portals evil? Or perhaps the “necessary evil”?

Or are they perhaps helping expanding the game markets and bring profits (and fun) to mass markets? What do you think? Would the game world be better or worse without portals?

See the evil poll at the forums.