Steam Direct, a new sign-up system for launching games on the store, is due to replace Greenlight in Spring 2017. Currently, any developer or publisher new to Steam is required to submit their game for approval through Greenlight, which involves a small fee and community voting; the new system may have different implications for VR developers.

In an announcement on the Steam Blog, Valve UI designer Alden Kroll explained that Greenlight, the current submission system for developers and publishers new to Steam, will be phased out in the spring, replaced by ‘Steam Direct’. This new sign-up system removes community voting entirely, simplifying the process to a recoupable application fee for each new title. This figure has yet to be decided, but it could be significantly higher than the current $100 Greenlight fee. “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.”

This is already causing much debate among the indie developer community. Too high and you risk shutting out the small developers; too low and you open the floodgates to shovelware. But Greenlight itself has always been controversial, far from a perfect system. Talking to PC Gamer, Kroll said that Greenlight “inherently has a bunch of unpredictability in it,” making it difficult for developers to plan ahead due to the variable time frame for a title becoming ‘greenlit’.

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In the case of VR titles, the process has been different, as Valve allow promising VR developers to bypass the Greenlight system by contacting them directly, accelerating the approval and encouraging the growth of the medium. Whether the move to Steam Direct will change their policy for VR submissions remains to be seen, but the end of Greenlight should ultimately result in a greater influx of VR content.

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  • OgreTactics

    Good news. The Playstation platform (and eventually the Nintendo Platform) have both huge incentives in the fact that they have highly curated quality content compared to Steam which probably has 80% of crap content.

  • wheeler

    All of the VR crap and lazy Unity asset store amalgamations on the steam store right now is something I’ve always complained about (I would have been satisfied with Greenlight with the caveat that you have to play a demo of the experience for at least 10 to 15 minutes in order to vote on it). I just hope they don’t make the entry price upwards of $500 since at that point you’ll start scaring away the smaller devs. We don’t want what Steam is now but a curated content store like Sony’s or even Oculus Home would be even worse.

    • burzum

      I think I refunded 2/3 of my VR buys on Steam because they were just crap. I don’t know what a good and fair solution is, but right now there is far to much crap on Steam.

    • mbze430

      agreed, there is so much crap/shovelware in the VR platform on steam now.

  • DaKangaroo

    I don’t mind Steam having a lot of junk as long as it’s easy to search through, and there’s a good system in place for quality pieces bubbling to the top.

    In some ways, despite Greenlight opening the door to a lot of junk, it’s also been good. Can’t find gems without digging through dirt right? Some of the games which have come through Greenlight have been great surprises, which would of never made it through to Steam any other way.

    But at the same time, I think there’s room to take just one or two steps back from the open free for all that is Greenlight, and make a system which is just a tad more curated.

  • Nadim Alam

    This is absolutely terrible news, and a huge step backwards for indie devs. Whats more this can also prove to be disastrous for VR games, most of these little VR gems have come from indie devs.

    The current system was the reason that made me decide to create my new VR game, im a solo, part-time unity developer that has had a design for a VR game for a few years now but only just managed to get the courage to actually learn and start developing for unity in 2017!! Now that im about a month into my game this news comes and stabs me into the back, its really demotivating :(

    Us devs who are developing solely for VR dont have any sort of indication of how much money our game can make, VR is still a small market. $100 was just about the max i could afford to get my game on steam and try to sell it, but now with a price of up to $5000 just for entry i stand no chance! What does Valve want every indie dev to do? Do they want us all to go on Kickstarter or indiegogo and crowd fund our entry fee for Steam or something?

    This is a huge step backwards from Valve, i can only hope the entry fee doesnt go past $100 :(

    • Nairobi

      No. It is necessary to be able to curb trashy games on Steam or else you have to wade through pools of low rated content. The purpose of this is so Steam doesn’t suck up “My First Unity Game” projects because the devs feel special. Everyone can make a game. Not everyone can make a GOOD game. There is a very fine line in between.

      It also hurts you as a dev if you are looking to make money if you just throw your game onto a pile of other cheap solo Unity games.

      • Nadim Alam

        thats not the point, the point is how are the devs expected to get up to $5000 per game to release? I really dont see crappy games as a blocker on steam, there are already very good search features available to block these out. The search feature is pretty good on steam and along with user reviews its quite easy to filter out rubbish stuff and look for the good stuff.

        • Nairobi

          No. The problem is the community cannot moderate Greenlight. The community is made of mindless tossers who just love to jump on the first cool preview they see. Don’t take it from me. Take it from the literal thousands of positive copy pasted Minecraft clones, survival clones, zombie games. The community is sporadic. $5000 is high as hell but you would see more prepared indie developers.