Steam Ends Greenlight Program
In a surprising announcement on Friday, February 10th, 2017 Valve announced the upcoming phase-out of the Steam Greenlight program. The statement gives as a reason Steam’s gradual evolution from a heavily curated digital store to a more direct publishing model.
The Greenlight program, which allowed developers to put up games for a community vote for possible inclusion on the Steam digital platform, had a major effect on the indie gaming community. A number of our favorites here at IGR received attention through the Steam Greenlight process, including award-winners and best-sellers like Stardew Valley, Jotun, Broforce, Samorost 3 and Papers, Please. The program also helped developers push through reissues of classics, like seminal adventure game The Seventh Guest.
On the other hand, the comparative ease and low bar for entry – a $100 fee – led to a glut of arguably low quality bargain games. In the words of IGR writer HappyWulf, “People were just throwing $100 into the wind so they could put up their ‘Nazi Simulator 666 Special Edition.’”
It may have also been partially responsible for the low barrier to entry for the glut of demo-worthy, overpriced VR games, which is too bad, because when VR games are good, they showcase an extraordinary new technology and experience.
Red Light, Greenlight, Direct
Valve will be replacing Steam Greenlight with a new direct publishing model in the spring of 2017. Entitled Steam Direct, the new model will require developers to provide verification materials and tax information “similar to applying for a bank account.” After this initial set-up process, developers will pay a flat fee for each game distributed on the Steam platform (the fee can be recouped through game sales). Valve hopes that this will improve the signal-to-noise ratio in their submission pipeline.
Valve has not yet reached a decision on the required fee amount for Steam Direct. After discussions with studios and dev teams, the possible spectrum ranges from $100 on the low end to $5000 at the high end. At IGR, we hope Valve settles on a fee low enough not to bar entry for indie developers just starting out, but high enough to reduce the glut of bargain basement copycat games.
Let us know your thoughts on this surprising development – and what you think a fair publication fee for Steam Direct might be – in the comments.
Read the complete official statement