Steam Greenlight Shutdown; Direct Starts June 13th

Valve’s Steam Greenlight program has finally been shut down in favor of Steam Direct (which launches June 13th) after months without clarity about when this changeover would occur and what the cost would be to developers submitting their games into the new Steam Direct program.

There’s this interesting note in the announcement from Valve’s Alden Kroll:

Over the next week, a team here at Valve will be reviewing the list of titles that have not yet been Greenlit and will be selecting the final batch of titles to pass through the Greenlight process. Our goal is to Greenlight as many of the remaining games as we have confidence in.

It’s good that Valve are trying to help anyone who had been in the process, but I feel bad for anyone who had a game in Greenlight, or was considering submitting one, during the past 6 months.

Steam Direct Update from Valve

Back in February Valve announced that they were going to replace Steam Greenlight with Steam Direct. There was some confusion because Valve had not yet decided on a price per game for submissions, or a timeframe for this change to occur. The original announcement only gave a vague date of “Spring 2017.” Well, Summer starts on June 21st, so Valve’s Alden Kroll has an update for us on the transition to Direct.

The fee for a submissions to Direct is going to be $100, which is thankfully far lower than the top end that Valve had been considering of $5000. However, that is still kind of ridiculous when some of their competitors charge $0 for a game to be hosted on their service.

I don’t doubt that hosting a game incurs a cost to Valve but what they are doing is hosting a few web pages, downloads, maintaining the Steam application and APIs, and handling payments. Support is passed off to the developer or publisher of the game as is community management.

For all of this, Valve will still get a cut of sales, although they do not discuss what that cut is, it has been speculated to be about 30%.

I really wish that Valve had decided to get rid of this fee entirely, or had it straight to begin with instead of threatening developers with the possibility of a $5000 hit for each game submission back in February and then remained silent for five months while they sorted things out. Could you imagine being a game developer considering submitting your game to Steam in this time frame?

With the clarity of the $100 fee we can now know that this is really going to be a discount on Valve’s commission from 30% of the first $1000 in sales to 20%. Games that want to be distributed entirely freely on Steam will just lose out on that $100, and small developers will be punished by the hundred for each game they submit.

This will absolutely not keep out people who want to abuse Steam, which was Valve’s stated reason for the charge as they will just factor the $100 into the cost of doing bad business on Steam. Just like anti-piracy schemes that only hurt people who want to play games they have purchased, this fee will only hurt good people who want to release more games on Steam and not necessarily charge an arm and a leg for them.

It’s no surprise that Bungie and Activision’s Destiny 2 is going to be exclusive (on Windows) to the Blizzard Launcher (nèe Battle.net) instead of going onto Steam and letting Valve take their cut.

That’s not an option for most smaller developers who don’t have the name recognition of Bungie and Blizzard to make their own store and go it alone. They’re going to go to itch for free or Steam for the players and take the hit.

We still don’t have a date for when Direct will actually replace Greenlight. 

So many of the features of Valve’s platform are also passed off to their community of players. Players are encouraged to write reviews, moderate them with votes, and go through the “Discovery queue” that shows you games in a fashion roughly equivalent to walking down a candy aisle to get to the checkout at a store.

This update also included information for Steam Curators, Valve’s other favorite free labor taskforce. People who make videos about games are going to be able to embed their videos alongside the game review snippets displayed on game pages. Journalists and critics who include their reviews Valve’s curator abandoned it long ago, as did I. The curation system never directed enough readers to our websites. At least with the video embeds you should get a proper “view” on your video.

All I want out of the curation system is for nazis and other trolls to be blocked from it, which Valve seems loathe to do when they still allow games from MRA assholes onto their platform.

Goodbye Greenlight, Hello Direct

Valve is replacing Steam Greenlight. Alden Kroll:

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. 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.

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.

Steam Direct sounds like Valve is moving a little bit closer to the free-for-all of itch, which is good but $5000 is a bit much. They should have had the dollar amount straight before going live with this.

Valve are also still making money off of software that encourages rape. That shit needs to go.

How will this work for free games? They wouldn’t recoup a fee unless it can be done after a certain number of downloads.