Valve to replace Greenlight with Steam Direct

February 13, 2017 | 11:21

Tags: #digital-distribution #gabe-newell #greenlight #steam-direct #steam-greenlight

Companies: #steam #valve

Valve has announced that it is to kill off its Steam Greenlight publishing programme in favour of a more traditional approach to getting games listed on the digital distribution platform, dubbed Steam Direct.

Valve launched Steam Greenlight as a means for independent developers to get their games listed on the platform at a minimal cost yet without opening Steam up to masses of shovel-ware listings. The system was simple: Developers could list their games, and later selected non-gaming content not including 18+ erotica, psychopathic murder simulators, and benchmarks, and the Steam community could vote on whether or not they would purchase the title. If the title got enough votes, it would be listed in Steam proper and available for immediate purchase - and in the case of Greenlight software taking advantage of Steam's Early Access policy, potentially even before it was actually finished.

Back in 2014, Valve's Gabe Newell stated that 'our goal is to make Greenlight go away, not because it's not useful but because we're evolving.' Now, that evolution appears to have taken the company full circle: three years later, Greenlight is indeed going away - but in favour of a far more traditional approach where developers and publishers must pay a much higher fee for direct listing, without the involvement of the Steam community.

'This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct,” is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight,' the company has explained in an announcement on the matter. '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.'

That application fee could prove a real sticking point: Listing a title on Greenlight currently costs $100, a fee introduced in 2012 ostensibly as a means of cutting down on spam and low-quality submissions; the Steam Direct fee, by contrast, has yet to be set with Valve suggesting it could go as high as $5,000 - a fee which will likely see many smaller developers priced out of listing on the platform unless they can get funding through an established publisher. '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,' Valve said of its pricing strategy. 'There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.'

Valve has not set a firm date for the departure of Greenlight and introduction of Steam Direct, beyond a woolly 'Spring 2017' schedule.
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