It would appear that the days of Steam Greenlight are numbered. Many PC gamers who have used Steam for the past few years will be familiar with Greenlight, which allows Steam users to vote on independent games that are looking to get a listing on Steam’s storefront. Greenlight has been around since 2012, but Valve announced today that it will be shutting down this spring.
A new submission process called Steam Direct will launch in its place. As the name suggests, Steam Direct will streamline the process for developers looking to get their games on Steam. Instead of leaving that decision to players, developers will now simply have to fill out a form and pay a fee. Then, assuming their game passes some platform compatibility tests, their game will be added to the Steam library.
While that sounds like a good change, there’s one thing that could prove to be a road block for small time developers: the fee Valve charges. With Steam Greenlight, developers merely had to a pay a one-time $100 fee and then they could submit as many games as they wanted. With Steam Direct, that becomes a per-game fee, and Valve is considering fees that range from more than $100 up to as much as $5,000.
The problem, of course, is that paying $5,000 per submitted game would be prohibitively expensive for many small developers. There is a reason behind increasing the fee beyond just putting money in Valve’s pocket, however. Valve is looking to figure out a fee that’s low enough to allow access to smaller developers but high enough to dissuade those developers from flooding the store with awful games.
In the end, we likely won’t see the fee top out at $5,000, but we can expect it to be a fair amount more than the $100 developers currently need to pay. Valve says that it will work indie developers to shape Steam Direct, especially in regards to that fee.
There will be at least one other avenue for developers looking to get their game on Steam, as Valve says that Early Access won’t change with the introduction of Steam Direct. Early Access, as many of you know, allows developers to offer alpha and beta builds of their games on the Steam store, letting players purchase and play these early builds to fund continued development and provide feedback.
Steam Direct is an interesting initiative from Valve, though perhaps not all that surprising when you consider that the popularity of Steam Greenlight has declined over the years. There’s no solid launch date for Steam Direct yet, but it sounds like it’s just a few months away. We’ll undoubtedly hear more about this in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned for that.