Five years after its groundbreaking attempt to give indie games a legitimate path to success, Valve has officially shut down Steam Greenlight. The company plans to replace it with a new system called Steam Direct, which kicks off on June 13.
The announcement started off with praise of Steam Greenlight, explaining how it delivered us some of indie gaming's most popular hits.
Steam Greenlight launched on August 30, 2012, at a time when we realized that we weren't able to predict which titles players were really interested in. Up until that point, a small team here at Valve had been hand-picking games to invite on to the Steam platform, and almost every day we would hear from players wondering why awesome new game X wasn't available on Steam. The more this happened, the less confident we became that our own tastes were accurately representing the tastes of everyone using Steam. Greenlight was introduced as a way to help our team figure out which games players most wanted, by having those Steam users vote. Almost right away, we saw an incredible variety of games being submitted and voted on, which made it clear to us that there are far more distinct tastes and interests among Steam players than we had realized.
Right from the early days and throughout the life of Greenlight, we have been continually surprised by the hits coming through. In just the first year we saw titles such as War For The Overworld, Evoland, Rogue Legacy, and Verdun move through Greenlight and go on to become hugely successful. We found it was easy to explain afterwards why some titles turned out to be big hits, but when we forced ourselves to predict beforehand, we weren't nearly as accurate as we thought we were going to be. Those early years also saw huge growth in some categories of games that we had previously considered extremely niche, like visual novels. Whether you love or hate visual novels (In which case you can customize your preferences here!), they have gone on to form a huge following on Steam. Even today, we still see surprising smash hits come through Greenlight, such as the recent releases of Dead Cells and Blackwake.
An imperfect system about to be made better
However, Steam Greenlight's problems were holding it back from all it could be, most notably the presence of fake games. Valve detailed how Steam Direct would improve the system and help weed out the copious stinkers.
The goal with Steam Direct is to provide an understandable and predictable path for developers from anywhere in the world to bring their games to Steam. With that in mind, we're making the process as easy and streamlined as possible. 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.
Indie games will continue to thrive on Steam through this new system, and hopefully, it becomes a much better filter for its digital shelves.