It looks like Valve understands what went wrong.
Steam Greenlight was Valve’s attempt to make it easier for games to get on the Steam storefront, by having the community pick directly whether or not a game deserved to get on there. However, over time, multiple issues with the system began to manifest themselves, and Steam Greenlight ended up having more problems than utility.
Replacing steam Greenlight with something more functional has been on the agenda for a while now. Now, Valve has finally revealed what Greenlight’s fate, and replacement, will be, announcing that Steam Direct will be replacing Steam Greenlight come March.
“After the launch of Steam Greenlight, we realized that it was a useful stepping stone for moving to a more direct distribution system, but it still left us short of that goal,” Valve said in a blog post. “Along the way, it helped us lower the barrier to publishing for many developers while delivering many great new games to Steam. There are now over 100 Greenlight titles that have made at least $1 Million each, and many of those would likely not have been published in the old, heavily curated Steam store.
“Greenlight also exposed two key problems we still needed to address: improving the entire pipeline for bringing new content to Steam and finding more ways to connect customers with the types of content they wanted.”
The solution will be Steam Direct, which attempts to add some restrictions in place for just what can get on the store. “The next step in these improvements is to establish a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct,” is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight,” the blog post reads. “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. 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.”
I think I can largely agree with Valve’s solution, and the rationale behind it. And sure, while I can see that, say, $5000 would be a bit of a hurdle for a relatively smaller developer, it would also be an investment- and that developer would have a very fair chance of getting that $5000 back once the game was on Steam. $5000 would also hopefully act as a deterrent to those who otherwise spam Steam with quick, low quality efforts.
Let’s see how it turns out.