Steam Eliminates Greenlight, Will Let Devs Publish Games Directly This Spring
Valve will introduce a new system, Steam Direct, in the coming months.
Valve is making some major changes to the way games are published through Steam, starting with the removal of the Greenlight system.
Greenlight was rolled out in 2012 as a replacement for the internal curation system Valve previously used to choose which games to allow on Steam. While it presented more opportunities for developers--more than 6,000 games have been released through it --it has been a source of complaints for both players and devs. Valve acknowledges this, describing it merely as a "stepping stone."
"After the launch of Steam Greenlight, we realized that it was a useful stepping stone for moving to a more direct distribution system, but it still left us short of that goal," Valve said in its announcement. "Along the way, it helped us lower the barrier to publishing for many developers while delivering many great new games to Steam. There are now over 100 Greenlight titles that have made at least $1 million each, and many of those would likely not have been published in the old, heavily curated Steam store."
According to Valve, Greenlight highlighted two key areas it needed to focus on: "improving the entire pipeline for bringing new content to Steam and finding more ways to connect customers with the types of content they wanted."
Work has been done on this front, both on the backend and more publicly, with things like the Discovery update. Valve views that update as a success, citing two metrics. "[T]he average time customers spend playing games on Steam has steadily increased since the first Discovery update," it said. "Over the same time period, the average number of titles purchased on Steam by individual customers has doubled."
The next step is replacing Greenlight with what's called Steam Direct. Developers looking to release games through Steam will have go through a process similar to "applying for a bank account." Once that's completed, they'll have to pay an application fee for each game they want to release which will be paid back later.
Valve hasn't yet settled on what that fee will be, but the range sounds fairly large. "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," it said. "There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number."
The purpose of this is to "decrease the noise in the submission pipeline." Indeed, that is a potential problem given that dozens of games can be released on Steam on any given day currently. Greenlight currently has a one-time, $100 fee that is donated to charity in order to post games for consideration by players.
Valve didn't share any of the pros or cons of the specific fee figures. An obvious con on the high end is that it could shut out smaller indie projects that simply don't have that kind of money to put up.
Valve's Gabe Newell spoke in 2014 about wanting to do away with Greenlight. "Not because it's not useful, but because we're evolving," he said at the time. To that point, today's announcement is titled "Evolving Steam."
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