Over Steam’s 13-year history, they have gradually moved from a tightly curated store to a more direct distribution model. Since its start they have slowly evolved into one of the greatest communities in all of gaming.
When considering any new features and changes they claim their primary goal is to make their customers happy. They measure their success in this goal by by how well they are able to connect customers with great content.
We’ve come to realize that in order to serve this goal we needed to move away from a small group of people here at Valve trying to predict which games would appeal to vastly different groups of customers.” Valve said in its announcement.
Video Source – IGN News
In their quest to achieve a more direct distribution model they see Greenlight as the biggest obstacle. The goal is to provide developers and publishers with a more direct publishing path and ultimately connect gamers with even more great content.
Personally I’m not a fan of Greenlight. When I first started using Steam I was new to PC gaming all together. The first few Greenlight games I came across gave me a bad impression of the platform. It takes a while for new PC users who are used to console gaming to adjust to system requirements, controller compatibility, and many other things. Glitchy unfinished Greenlight games can scare new users away all together, and give them a bad opinion about Steam.
If a game is not fully produced I think it should only be released in the form of alpha and beta test copies, or demo’s. Really I don’t think any should be released with a fee unless they are ready to go.
Another big problem I have is how long some games remain on GL. There should be a time limit for developers to release their games once putting them out there. So many half-assed games have been added to Greenlight just to grow cobwebs and get a books worth of negative comments. Some games start off good like Rust and charge an upfront fee, then go to crap during the developmental process.
There are many downsides to Greeenlight. It has had its positive side as well. It has helped many indie developers get their games out there since its start. Over 100 games have made over $1 million dollars from starting on GL.
Valve sees GL as a stepping stone in their evolution. They plan to ’86 GL this spring and replace it with a new distribution model they are calling “Steam Direct”.
“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.” ~ Steam
“The next step in these improvements is to establish a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct,” is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.” ~ Steam
“While we have invested heavily in our content pipeline and personalized store, we’re still debating the publishing fee for Steam Direct. We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000. There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.” ~ Steam
I think this news is exciting. Its good to see Steam is always focused on bettering their platform. On the other hand, I’m sure this news has many small developers nervous. There are many other resources for getting an indie game out there like Gamejolt, Indie DB, Itch.io, and more. In comparison none of those distribution platforms have half of the following Steam does.
Steam is always making changes and updates, but this is a big one. It could change many things for the better or worse. I’ll be happy to see GL go personally, but am nervous that it will stunt the growth of the Indie game scene. I guess we’ll find out how it will go this Spring.