A tectonic shift for PC gaming is here — at least for developers and publishers.
Steam Direct is launching June 13. This is the new service for submitting games to Valve’s PC-gaming platform. With Direct, anyone who meets a basic set of criteria to determine legality and appropriateness can launch a game on the massive online store by paying a $100 per-game fee. In preparation for this launch, Valve has also cut off submissions and votes for Direct’s predecessor, Steam Greenlight. That service enabled Steam customers to vote on which developers should get to release games on the Steam store.
“As of now, we are no longer accepting new game or software submissions via Steam Greenlight, and voting has been disabled,” Steam engineer Alden Knoll wrote in a blog post. “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.”
This marks the end of a five-year experiment for Valve. Greenlight launched in August 2012, and the company positioned it as the solution for bringing more content Steam while maintaining standards. But in February, Valve revealed it was ending Greenlight and replacing it with Direct. The reason? Too many games and too many different kinds of gamers.
“Steam Greenlight launched … at a time when we realized that we weren’t able to predict which titles players were really interested in,” wrote Knoll. “Up until that point, a small team here at Valve had been hand-picking games to invite on to the Steam platform, and almost every day we would hear from players wondering why awesome new game X wasn’t available on Steam. The more this happened, the less confident we became that our own tastes were accurately representing the tastes of everyone using Steam.”
Greenlight helped address that problem for a while, but its system also introduced a lot of other problems. Developers had to hustle and often spend a lot of money to successfully get a project through Greenlight. Steam customers also rarely went to vote. But this system at least proved to the team at Valve that no internal team could account for the variety of tastes in games on Steam.
This has led Valve to Direct, which wants to let everything on Steam so that consumers — not Valve — can decide what games should succeed. To help with that, the company is working on building algorithms that will surface the games you are most likely to enjoy on your store page. This is something the company has had on the crowded store for a while, and — like Greenlight — is introducing totally new problems. But Valve is OK with that as long as it means it isn’t making decisions on behalf of the market.