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.
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.