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Steam Greenlight Gets Red Lit: Valve Replaces Program With Steam Direct

Valve’s Steam Greenlight program is being replaced later this spring with a new distribution system, Steam Direct, which the company hopes will lower the barrier for indie game developers.

The Steam Greenlight program has allowed hundreds of indie games to come to what is probably the most popular PC game distribution platform in the world. As Valve pointed out in today’s post on their blog, over 100 Greenlighted games from the program have made over a million dollars, no small sum for any game company, and for indie titles, it is an enormous boost. Many of these games would never have been able to be published under the old Steam system. And since Valve also makes money from sales, the profitability of the program has benefited everyone involved.

Valve's Gabe Newell
The man (right) behind Valve and Steam, Gabe Newell. [Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

But the Steam Greenlight program, even from its outset, never fulfilled everything Valve wanted from the design. Even back in 2013, Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve, declared to PC Gamer, “It’s probably bad for the Steam community, in the long run, not to move to a different way of thinking about that…. In other words, we should stop being a dictator and move towards much more participatory, peer-based methods of sanctioning player behavior. Greenlight is a bad example of an election process. We came to the conclusion pretty quickly that we could just do away with Greenlight completely, because it was a bottleneck rather than a way for people to communicate choice.”

One significant issue with the way the Greenlight system works is the uncertainty factor. When and whether or not a game gets the green light affects how game developers interact with the community. When is the right time to start talking to the media about the game? When should a release date be given? The lack of predictability has played against Steam Greenlight, and the new Steam Direct should help fix this problem.

Today’s official post also pointed out another problem with Steam Greenlight. “Greenlight also exposed two key problems we still needed to address: improving the entire pipeline for bringing new content to Steam and finding more ways to connect customers with the types of content they wanted.”

The result of all these bits of data led Valve to create Steam Direct. It intends to streamline the process of putting games on Steam significantly while reducing the difficulties Greenlight has had with trolls, thieves, and all the other wonderful denizens of the Internet.

So, how will Valve make money off the new program? Naturally, the company has spoken with a number of developers to see what they think would be reasonable fees for application, and numbers they have gotten range from a measly $100 to a whopping $5,000. Additionally, to sort out the trolls from the trues, sets of paperwork likened to applying for a bank account will be required from developers looking to utilize the new Steam Direct distribution system.

Considering some of the trolls publishing games have even filed lawsuits after individuals made negative comments on their games. According to Gadgets 360 “James Romine, co-founder of Digital Homicide, has also filed a subpoena against Valve in order to unveil the identities of 100 anonymous Steam users who have made statements about the company in the past.” A stricter vetting process for developers who wish to use the platform will favor everyone except the trolls.

Ultimately, Valve wants “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.”

Tell us what you think about Steam Greenlight, and its replacement, Steam Direct, in the comments section below!

[Featured Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]

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