Steam Greenlight Is Dead, Long Live Steam Direct

Valve has decided to try another method of vetting developers and publishers for Steam.

News by Mike Williams, .

Valve Software has announced that it will be closing the Steam Greenlight service. Greenlight was introduced in August 2012 as an alternate way for developers and publishers to release games on the Steam Store. Before, all submissions had to go through Valve itself, leading to a queue that prioritized major companies. With Greenlight, developers pay $100 fee to list their games on the service, which fans then vote on for release on the store.

"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," said Valve's Alden Kroll. "These unforeseen successes made it abundantly clear that there are many different audiences on Steam, each looking for a different experience. 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."

Valve has been clear about getting rid of Steam Greenlight for a long time. Back in 2014 at Steam Dev Days, the company acknowledged that its goal was "to make Greenlight go away." It's just taken a few years to get there.

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In case you forgot that Valve makes new games, the company is planning to support the Vive.

In Greenlight's place Valve has announced Steam Direct. The service is planned for a Spring 2017 launch and will bring developers and players closer together.

"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," said Kroll. "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."

The application fee has drawn fire from developers, in the same way that Steam Greenlight's $100 fee drew fire back in the day. The issue is many indie developers are working in the hole, developing their games unpaid for years. Until their game is released, those devs many not have the money to spare. Valve is still working on the publishing fee, but the range is pretty high.

"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," said Kroll.

Valve is committed to working on the new Steam Direct system though. Hopefully it'll work out better than Greenlight has.

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Comments 7

  • Avatar for TernBird #1 TernBird 11 months ago
    It's about time Greenlight went out; it really was a bit of a mess.

    It was also easy to steal content that way; Mike Inel made a game called Arson and distributed it for free, and some people went and tried getting it greenlit out from under him.
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  • Avatar for Thad #2 Thad 11 months ago
    @nimzy Valve really is a game developer that stumbled into being a game distributor and then publisher, and has been pretty much making it up as it goes along. Given that, it's surprising how smoothly things have gone, for the most part, despite a lot of Bush-League errors along the way, from the server problems in the beginning on up to the revelation last week that they hadn't been sanitizing user input and people could straight-up stick script tags in their Stream profiles.
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  • Avatar for PlatypusPlatoon #3 PlatypusPlatoon 11 months ago
    I'd love to understand the pros and cons of each publishing price point to Steam Direct. Without understanding any of the details, $5000 seems patently ridiculous, especially for smaller indie developers - who have already been breaking their backs for months and years creating their game, often with very little to live off. I understand that the publishing fee is recoupable - presumably given that the game sells a minimum number of copies - but it doesn't seem fair to add yet another burden to indie developers, who already have a lot of things to deal with. As I understand it, a developer subscription to Apple is $100/year, which then lets you publish apps on their App Store, and that seems like a better starting point for discussion.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #4 MHWilliams 11 months ago
    @PlatypusPlatoon As you get higher up the list of prices, you also cut down on the number of developers who will throw shovelware at the Steam Store. The problem of course is many legitimate indie devs are also in that tier.
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  • Avatar for Ohoni #5 Ohoni 11 months ago
    The way they should do it is, they have a relatively low "listing fee," but then also have some sort of escrow account, in which whatever profits the game makes are temporarily set aside, the developers do not get them, UNTIL they have earned a certain amount of positive feedback from users. This way, shovelware devs couldn't turn a quick buck by cleverly marketing crap, any profits they scammed out of people would be held until they had proven they had a satisfactory product, at which point they would recover all or most of that money.

    If a company fails to reach the player feedback benchmarks, then up to thousands of dollars from that escrow would be pocketed by Steam, and they could choose to de-list the game. sure, Steam could choose to abuse that policy, but it wouldn't be in their best interests to bully games that people actually like, and I would trust Steam to make the right choices over shadey BS devs.
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  • Avatar for docexe #6 docexe 11 months ago
    @Ohoni No offense, but honestly, I think that system you propose there would be more likely to punish honest small developers while not deterring scammers at all.

    Small developers who might not have the marketing budget to ensure their games get enough exposure (or whose games might be so “out there” that their audience is already pretty small by default) will have trouble clearing that threshold in order to receive any compensation at all for their work.

    Meanwhile, there would be no real guarantee that those developers of dubious morality who keep peddling shovelware would not just find workarounds to abuse the system, just like they already do with the Greenlight votes.
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  • Avatar for Ohoni #7 Ohoni 11 months ago
    Well, I was sort of thinking of it as a sliding scale, where you'd need to maintain a high rating relative to units sold in order to pocket the profits. I definitely wouldn't want something where you'd need to sell thousands and thousands of copies to be able to get anything out of it. Maybe a system where you pocket nothing for two weeks after going live, and then after that your rating is checked and if you're mostly well-liked then you can pocket most of the profits owed so far, and then more and more over time. In the end, if you did well then you'd get all of it. If you had low sales, then you would need to maintain a higher average rating than if you had higher sales, to prevent companies from stacking the results with fakers.
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