Steam Greenlight closed, Steam Direct comes next week

Steam Greenlight, the process by which developers can get their game on Steam’s digi-store by collecting enough votes, has been shut down and all voting is now suspended. This is to pave the way for Valve’s new method of adding games to their store – Steam Direct – which is coming on June 13. It’s all part of a plan that has been in the works for a while, and although it mostly affects developers looking to sell their various murder simulators this will also likely change both the quantity and variety of games you’ll be wading through.

You can see the little “men at work” sign on their website but Valve have also released a statement about how this transition will work. Any game still in Greenlight will be reviewed by their peepers and either let through the gate or rejected.

“There are some titles that will not be Greenlit, due to insufficient voter data or concerns about the game reported by voters,” they say. “Titles that are not ultimately Greenlit may still be brought to Steam via Steam Direct, provided they meet our basic criteria of legality and appropriateness.”

There are over 3400 games currently in that particular pile of shame, they say, so it might be a while until everyone gets their golden pass or summary kick in the backside. As for what’s replacing the voting system, Steam Direct is due to launch next week and, as we’ve already heard, will include a $100 publishing fee. There’s a little more to this, of course, and… well, this what they’re saying:

A new developer will simply need to fill out some digital paperwork, including entering bank and tax information and going through a quick identity verification process. After completing the paperwork, the developer will be asked to pay a $100 recoupable fee for each game they wish to release on Steam. This fee is returned in the payment period after the game has sold $1,000.

As we have been doing for the past year, there is a short process prior to release where our review team installs each game to check that it is configured correctly, matches the description provided on the store page, and doesn’t contain malicious content.

Additionally, brand-new developers that we haven’t worked with before will need to wait 30 days from the time they pay the app fee until they can release their first game on Steam. This gives us time to review the developer’s information and confirm that we know who we’re doing business with.

Ultimately, there are many reasons for this change-up. Valve have said they are trying to filter out “bad actors”, which sounds like they’re really upset with Jamie Dornan and Adam Sandler, but really they are just worried about people who make throwaway games to cheat the trading card system out of cash. But it also does seem like a part of a slow opening-up of Steam as a platform. They also acknowledge that changes to the way curators work and the way recommendations are made will be important to filter out your particular chaff from your particular wheat.

I’m not sure if things will be better or worse this way. New releases already tend to get swamped away very quickly, thanks to the sheer volume of stuff that comes out each day, and I suspect this will only mean more of that. Meanwhile, smaller games always have the options of Itch.io and the like, a store whose own profile is slowly but contentedly growing. It might be a stretch to say that this is Valve pre-empting that kind of competition, since getting your game on Steam is still the main goal of many PC developers thanks to its big audience. But it certainly does make it a similarly open door for developers previously limited by cash, even if success is far from guaranteed in that big Steamy pond.

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16 Comments

  1. Zhiroc says:

    The concept seems more friendly, with Steam simply as a storefront instead of having to curate which game is “worthy”. But I have to wonder, what keeps this from becoming a platform to spread all sorts of malware? And would the fear of such make it actually harder for a new legit indie dev to get anyone to trust them enough to make a sale?

    • Sakkura says:

      Discoverability may be an even bigger issue. That’s already a problem today, but with the lower barrier of entry, there’s just going to be that much more stuff on Steam.

    • EsKa says:

      about malware: the fact you need to give detailed legal/bank information before joining in, and that your product still get automatically scanned before release (as it has always been, independently of greenlight) :)

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      The situation isn’t really any different than the mobile storefronts, where malware has occasionally slipped through. There ultimately isn’t a really good solution to preventing that kind of behavior, only reacting to it.

      The real question is: where do you draw the line between stupidly invasive, but supposedly legit, DRM and malware?

  2. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    I hope this works and I hope they are monitoring the abuse. There are so many developers who abuse the system by releasing the same game with slightly different skins right in a row just to throw something at the wall; it’s quite annoying.

  3. mechavolt says:

    So for those devs who paid into Greenlight, get rejected, and then have to pay into Steam Direct…do they get their original Greenlight money back?

  4. fish99 says:

    That fee seems a little low to me, like not high enough to discourage scammers and shovelware creators. Maybe $300-500 would be about right. It is returnable after all if your game turns out not to be a steaming turd.

    • April March says:

      I don’t know, steaming turds are very profitable these days. All I need to do is get in the radar of a youtuber (causing a domino effect that gets a lot of other youtubers playing your steaming turd) or have an AAA publisher.

  5. Catweasel says:

    The only thing that the new system seems like it’ll be worse at than greenlight is letting freeware games get put up on Steam. 100 bucks is no biggie at all for anything that costs money, but for freeware stuff it doesn’t make a ton of sense to do.

    • Frank says:

      It’d be nice if they had an option to submit freeware without paying anything. Then as soon as $100 worth of player donations came in, it was accepted.

      I’d pay a few dollars towards some Cactus, Molleindustria or Locomalito freeware games.

      More generally, it’d be nice if they had “pay what you want above this price”, like itch.

  6. fragmonkey90 says:

    Oh boy I can’t wait for more shovelware

  7. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I don’t like the concept of “everyone can release anything”. People think we miss out on the greatest games because Steam curates or sieves which they really don’t do much at all.
    In reality we’re drowning in trash and the store could be cleaned up by 95% without losing any quality game.
    There’s not that hidden gem you’d love but noone knows about discriminated by curating.

    • April March says:

      I honestly doubt that the 95% you’d remove would be the same 95% I’d remove. In fact, I’d bet money that if you and your best mate had to decide which 5% of games should stay you’d come down to fisticuffs.

      I am permanently agape at people who say Steam is ‘drowning in trash’, as I realize they’ve actually trusted Steam to tell them which games are good. For me, who used Gamersgate as my main games-purchasing portal for a good while, it’s easy to tell when to stop looking at a list of games for sale. I’d rather have every game I want on a service than have fewer games available for everyone to buy.

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