Steam Direct launches with $100 submission fee

After saying bye bye to the voter-led Steam Greenlight last week, Valve have today launched Steam Direct. It’s their new way for developers to submit games to the store by filling in some forms and throwing $100 onto Valve’s gold hoard as an publishing fee. There’s a lot more info about all this in a blog post but let’s go over the basics.

If you’re simply a player of games, this means there’ll probably just be more of them in the long-term. That’s not usually a bad thing. If you’re a maker of games, it’s more significant. You no longer need to go through the voting process to gather interest in your game, like a sniveling politician, before it can appear on Steam. Now, you only need to do something much more precarious: paperwork.

As well as contact info and the usual stuff, Valve also require tax information. After that, the application fee of $100 needs to be paid. This is recoupable, they say, so if your game gets over $1000 in sales you get this fee back. Following that, a review process to make sure you haven’t put any naughty code in the game takes place, as well as checking to see if it’s configured properly. “These processes shouldn’t take more than a day or two,” says Valve, “unless we find something configured incorrectly or problematic.”

The submission process itself can be found here. The reasons for this change in Steam’s procedures are many but much of it comes down to a battle against “Bad Actors” who were abusing the Greenlight process to release crappy games solely to make money on trading cards. Along with recent changes to the way those trading cards work, this new submission process is expected to combat that.

We aren’t quite sure whether there will be a lot more new submissions, just a bit more, or even fewer. It’s most likely that there will be an initial surge of new submissions and then a new rate somewhat higher than what was coming through Greenlight.

Our analysis suggests that quite a bit of the previous volume of submissions to Greenlight was motivated by trading card abuse… we expect there is a category of game-shaped objects that are unlikely to be worth someone paying even $100 to bring to Steam. So that will likely lower the rate of incoming new titles somewhat.

All this is important for developers, yes, but any change in the volume of games on Steam will have a knock-on effect on players too, even if it is only in terms of what they see on the store front. With that in mind, changes to the curator system and the way Steam recommends games to people are also under way. Here’s what they say about that:

We’re also quite a ways into rewriting the core of our recommendation engine to better predict which games any given user might find most exciting. And we’re also in the process of updating various sections of the Steam store that haven’t received as much recent attention as the home page.

All in all, some quite-big changes to the way things work. However, it might be a few weeks until we see exactly what effect this has on us as mindless, swarming consumers (if any).

14 Comments

  1. Drib says:

    Well, at least it’s easier to get on steam now, even if it’s also easier to get buried in the endless garbage on steam.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    You still need to “gather interest in your game, like a sniveling politician, before it [appears] on Steam” if you want it to sell more than zero copies.

    • April March says:

      Yeah, but one is marketing, and one is politics. One is about lying shamelessly to trick people into thinking you’ll help them live better lives while in pursuit of personal wealth, while… er, I forgot the point I was making.

    • Nasarius says:

      You absolutely do not have to do any of that *before it appears on Steam*. That’s the important part.

      There’s this silly idea that every indie game must copy the AAA marketing strategy of pre-release hype followed by two weeks of make-or-break sales. Games like Mount&Blade, Minecraft, or even Dwarf Fortress show it doesn’t have to be that way. You *can* release early and grow slowly, and Steam Direct helps developers do that.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        Unless you’re specifically going for the “games-as-a-service” model, and most indie games are not, releasing your game with zero promotion in advance is a recipe for obscurity.

        Nobody said anything about AAA marketing, but if you can’t cobble together a half decent presentation and muster the level of attention it takes to get a few votes on Greenlight you’re not going to magically get that attention by just quietly releasing it.

  3. YogSo says:

    Our analysis suggests that quite a bit of the previous volume of submissions to Greenlight was motivated by trading card abuse… we expect there is a category of game-shaped objects that are unlikely to be worth someone paying even $100 to bring to Steam. So that will likely lower the rate of incoming new titles somewhat.

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but submitting to Greenlight already costed $100, right? So, what makes them think that now that the situation is exactly the same as before, minus the community voting, that those “game-shaped” submissions are going to vanish?

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      Previously it was a one-time $100 fee for unlimited games, now you have to pay $100 for each game.

      • YogSo says:

        Ah, thanks, I didn’t know it was a one-time thing. We’ll have to wait and see if this change is enough to deter those submissions, then.

        • EsKa says:

          imho, curation isn’t the goal of the $100 fee. With dozen of bundle websites, it’s not really difficult to get back that kind of money, independently of the game’s own merits. It’s just there to replace a very unhealthy Green-light environment where buying votes (in a way or another) became the norm.

          Limitations put on the card collection/trading will do much more to reduce the amount of $0.99 “game-shaped objects”. The increased focus on Steam Curators may help as well, but i’m not convinced and it opens Steam to a whole new set of abuse (from unsavory curators).

          But hey, time will tell :)

          • thenevernow says:

            I think you forgot the fact that bundle sales don’t count against the 1000$ threshold. I’d say most “game-shaped objects” sell very little on Steam: people acquire them through bundles or giveaways.

          • EsKa says:

            I know that, but I fail to understand how it matters in the context of my post.

            Sure, benefits coming from 3rd party sources (bundles and other stores using steam keys) won’t impact the 1000$ thing, but it will still represent a net benefit compared to the 100$ entry point. Which, in my mind, proves this entry point is not, in itself, a barrier. Whether it should be one or not is another debate.

  4. BooleanBob says:

    “we expect there is a category of game-shaped objects that are unlikely to be worth someone paying even $100 to bring to Steam”

    I feel like there’s a joke to be made there about walking sims, but it’d be playing so much to the wrong crowd on here that you wouldn’t make it to the end of the sentence before getting

  5. haldolium says:

    finally.

    That fixed the black storefront/community hub bug for me that were introduced a few days back for some people.

  6. LogicalDash says:

    Greenlight had a submission fee, didn’t it? Also $100, as I recall.

    This removes some red tape so it’s still good, I guess