Steam kills Greenlight

Steam Direct will have devs pay an application fee for each game "to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline"

Valve is changing the way games can get onto its Steam digital storefront, as the company today announced it would be ending the Steam Greenlight program and replacing it with Steam Direct.

Launched in 2012, Steam Greenlight was intended to take curatorial duties off Valve's plate by letting the community vote for the games they wanted to see added to the store's catalog. While it accomplished the goal of allowing more developers to get their games on the service, it was rarely seen as a perfect solution, with Valve telling developers as early as 2014 that it planned to do away with the Greenlight program eventually as Steam evolved.

Sometime this spring, Valve will switch from Greenlight to Direct, which will eliminate the need for developers to seek community support before their games can appear on the storefront.

"We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account," Valve's Alden Kroll wrote in a post introducing Direct. "Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.

"While we have invested heavily in our content pipeline and personalized store, we're still debating the publishing fee for Steam Direct. We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000. There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we'd like to gather more feedback before settling on a number."

Regardless of what that feedback tells Valve, Kroll emphasized that it is once again an intermediary step toward whatever form Steam will need to take in the future.

"We want to make sure Steam is a welcoming environment for all developers who are serious about treating customers fairly and making quality gaming experiences," Kroll said. "The updates we've made over the past few years have been paving the way for improvements to how new titles get on to Steam, and Steam Direct represents just one more step in our ongoing process of making Steam better."

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Latest comments (6)

Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup StudiosA year ago
Well this is interesting. I guess this means they feel that their new suite of discoverability solutions allow them to open the floodgates, and let the Steam frontend filter out the dross. Hopefully the upfront payment won't be too high for part-time lone indies to got onto the store...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chris Payne on 11th February 2017 2:47pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer A year ago
Oh thank god. I was getting really worried Steam would wind up like Amazon, where so much crap has gotten into site through print-on-demand self-publishing that it's impossible to tell whether a new book is going to be readable or just the Google Translated homework essay of a teenager in India. There is, of course, a lot of really good self-published work too, but I can't find it because of all the completely unfiltered *&%.

Back when publishers were required, they were often excessively risk-averse (not to mention discriminatory; hence "J. K. Rowling" instead of "Joanne Rowling") but looking at a bookshelf in a store, you knew that at least one individual had found the work to be readable and in the advertised language, and it had probably been graced by a spell-checker. Now, it's just a chaos of homework essays, vanity publishing, wikipedia print-outs and wasted money.

Games face the same problem. Unscrupulous developers can round up a few dozen friends or hirelings from a third-world country and slather their alleged product in favourable reviews, rendering reviews nigh-useless as a form of quality control. It's not like open source software, where bad code is removed and replaced by good coders - fake reviews stick around and fight back to prevent being drowned out by genuine ones.

If they keep the fees small, it should still let solo developers and indies publish their work - they may even see better revenues because their projects won't be drowned out by fake games with stolen screenshots, unfinished games that never progress and tripe that people just flopped onto the market because they might make 2.00 if someone clicks on it by accident.
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Tudor Nita Lead Programmer, Gameloft RomaniaA year ago
@Bonnie Patterson: The app-store has a cash barrier and look how that went ( and remember, you have to initially pay for the whole platform, not just the 100 bucks a year ). Same goes for the 25$ bucks a pop for Android. They are essentially the garbage can of the app world, "in spite" of their fees.

I'm genuinely afraid that removing Greenlight ( as bad as that was ) will have the exact opposite effect to what they intend. At the end of the day, broken or not, Greenlight at least pretended to act as a filter. I'm seriously considering this is just a Valve excuse for monetizing the garbage games as well.
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Ruben Monteiro Engineer A year ago
@Tudor Nita: $25 is peanuts, everyone that has a PC to make an app on has that money. For the fee to have any effect it has to go up to the likes of the $5k they mentioned.
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Tudor Nita Lead Programmer, Gameloft RomaniaA year ago
@Ruben Monteiro: I completely agree. However, the 5k sum was presented as too much. AKA, the extreme of the spectrum. And Bonnie was arguing for keeping the fees small, for indie reasons.

Now, small is relative. 5k might be a man month worth of cash in the US, and 5 in Columbia, but I doubt anything lower will achieve anything. Would be an interesting idea to have the fee ( maybe even larger than 5k ) apply to a single new release ( from old or new devs ) and waive it for subsequent releases, depending on steam-purchased game reviews.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tudor Nita on 13th February 2017 6:55am

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer A year ago
@Tudor Nita: I'm sadly unfamiliar with the app store as I've vigorously resisted getting a mobile phone in case people try to talk to me on it, so really I'm just posting to say I read your posts and my brain is processing the new information - thank you very much :)
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