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.