Gamers and indie developers have taken to social media to express their anger and disbelief at Valve’s proposed new Steam Direct process of vetting games.
It hasn’t taken long for opposition to form against Valve’s decision to do away with Steam Greenlight, replacing voting on which games are to be available on the digital storefront with a system where developers need to pay a recurring, recoupable fee every time they submit a game. Ever since the decision was made public, Twitter has been rife with indie developers, as well as some gamers, decrying the new course Valve is taking.
Under the old system, developers who wanted to submit a game to Steam would pay a one-time, modest fee of $100 which allowed them to submit as many games as they wanted to Greenlight, where any and all members of the community could vote whether the game would appear in the Steam store. Under the new Steam Direct system, the voting is no more and developers will have to pay a fee that could turn out as high as $5000 per game, instead.
It should be noted that it is unclear what “recoupable” means in this case, but likely it would be a type of deposit, which would then be returned when an as yet unknown criterion has been met. Even if its returned without too much trouble, however, $5000 is a lot more than some starting developer living of noodles can afford, which many fear will kill indie gaming as we know it. As developer Daniel Steger says on his Twitter account, “hopeful devs will bankrupt themselves with no profit.”
Scary stuff, especially considering many of the best indie games were made by tiny studios that had next to nothing in capital until they were able to make a few bucks selling their first few game. Then again, it has to be said that the Greenlight system was broken beyond belief, flooding the Steam storefront with plenty of less than desirable games. That the service had to go was obvious to many, which is probably why Valve’s management got rid of it.
The many questions still surrounding Steam Direct and the almost eerie silence from Gabe Newell and other Valve execs regarding these concerns do give the impression that this is just an idea they’re running up the proverbial flagpole. It seems that sometimes Valve will launch a new project just to see what the reaction from its fans will be, so they can adjust their company policy accordingly.
It could very well be that the $5000 fee is just another one of these, like the idea that players should have to pay for mods. If this is the case, Steam Direct could end up looking very different than what people right now think.