Valve says that it has learned some key lessons from Greenlight, which allowed it to progress past its “heavily curated” roots for third-party games to now include over 100 Greenlight titles that have each generated at least $1 million in revenue. However, Greenlight has not provided a direct enough path between developers and the broader gaming audience, which is why Valve is shuttering the service.
In its place, Valve will introduce Steam Direct, which greatly simplifies the vetting process for developers when submitting their games. Instead of Steam users showing their interest in the title, in essence making it a popularity contest to “green light” a project for Valve to review, developers will be able to submit documentation directly to initiate the process for content distribution. Developers will be asked to provide personal or company verifications, tax documentation, and digital documentation, which Valve equates to the process of opening up a new bank account.
Developers will also be required to pay a fee — which could be as low as $100, or as high as $5,000 — during the submission process. Valve is currently discussing that fee with developers to find the right balance, as it wants the barrier low enough so that indie developers who are churning out quality content can get their foot through the door, but high enough to discourage fly-by-night operations that would dump junk software onto Steam.
The move to Steam Direct is just the latest in a number of changes that Valve has made (like Discovery Updates) to make the content selection and purchasing experience more appealing to users. “One of the clearest metrics is that the average time customers spend playing games on Steam has steadily increased since the first Discovery Update,” writes Alden Kroll. “Over the same time period, the average number of titles purchased on Steam by individual customers has doubled. Both of these data points suggest that we’re achieving our goal of helping users find more games that they enjoy playing.”
The demise of Steam Greenlight and the rise of Steam Direct will take place during the spring.