Valve’s Steam Greenlight initiative, a service that allowed creators to submit games for community approval, is no more. It’s being replaced by a more open program called Steam Direct.
Steam Direct isn’t about curating games like Greenlight was, though. Instead, Valve is opening the floodgates to all who want in and are willing to jump a few small hurdles. Steam will have you completing “a set of digital paper work, personal or company verification, and tax documentation similar to the process of applying for a bank account,” and then you’ll pay a “recoupable application fee” for each game you want to put on Steam. The fee will be somewhere between $100 and $5,000, but Valve hasn’t set it yet.
A diamond in the 💩
Steam Greenlight was never a perfect system, and I’m not sure if Steam Direct is better one way or the other. Steam Greenlight was subject to gaming by developers who would surreptitiously hand out codes, and if the community decided they didn’t like the developer, regardless of the game itself, the game could suffer, too.
At the same time, Steam is already rife with junk games that were slapped together to make a quick buck using assets included with game development engines. Over half the games on Steam have released in just the last two years. It’s a storefront of disorganized shelves and filled with products that we can’t know with total certainty are good quality products made in good faith. Valve does appear to understand this problem as the post notes that one of the company’s challenges is “finding ways to connect customers with the types of content they wanted,” but I fear Steam Direct will make it worse, not better, both for game creators to find an audience and game players to find the game they want.
Valve says Steam Direct is “targeted for spring 2017.” We’re looking forward to seeing it in action.