Valve announces that Steam will be dropping the Greenlight user-vetted game submission process in favor of Steam Direct, which forces developers to pay a fee instead.

Steam is the de facto champion when it comes to digital gaming distribution, and it’s something most PC gamers around the world likely have installed on their gaming rigs at this very moment. The digital distribution software has been around for some 13 years, and has gone through several stages of evolution to get to where it’s at now. Today, Valve has announced that Steam would be undergoing yet another transformation with the retirement and of the Steam Greenlight system. It’s successor, Steam Direct, will play host to an entirely different application process for developers to complete.

Since 2012, indie game developers had to submit their games to Steam Greenlight for crowdsourced approval, which opened Steam’s figurative floodgates to abundant, diverse, and occasionally questionable content. The Greenlight system’s comparatively minimal vetting process prompted even Gabe Newell himself to call it “a bad example of the election process”, though the system stayed in place for years despite Gabe’s self-criticism. The result is that Steam now plays host to a clutter of store pages with cash-in shovelware and unfinished products, though that isn’t to say plenty of fantastic games weren’t discovered through this same process as well.


Regardless of one’s thoughts on the user-vetted approval process, Valve will be introducing Steam Direct as the successor to Greenlight this spring, and it does away with the fan voting system entirely. In the new system, developers fill out a set of digital paperwork akin to setting up a bank account, and then pay a recoupable application fee to add their game to Steam without needing to wait for crowdsourced votes from Steam users. Valve hopes this new process will root out low effort and joke game applications that have cluttered the system in the past, though many indie game developers are worried that the potential size of the application fee could block out developers who don’t have much of a budget.

So far, Valve hasn’t decided on how large this application fee will be, and the company post about Steam Direct simply stated the company’s initial feedback about the suggested application fee size ran froma hefty $5,000 to as low as $100. If it ends up being on the higher end of the spectrum, many developers who are strapped for cash could be priced out of submitting their home-brewed titles to Steam – though nothing is confirmed about the application fee price as of yet.

Valve has made it clear that although the company views this as a logical stepping stone for the platform, the company will be listening to consumer feedback about Steam Direct. Valve has a pretty good history of following up with consumer feedback, so gamers who want to chime in should go ahead and do so. Valve also commented that the company is always looking at ways to improve Steam, and evidently thinks that the foreseeable future lies in Steam Direct:

We want to make sure Steam is a welcoming environment for all developers who are serious about treating customers fairly and making quality gaming experiences. The updates we’ve made over the past few years have been paving the way for improvements to how new titles get on to Steam, and Steam Direct represents just one more step in our ongoing process of making Steam better.

What do you think about Valve’s plans to replace Steam Greenlight with Stream Direct, Ranters? Are you worried that the new gateway application fee will keep independent developers from using the distribution platform?

tags: Steam, Valve