Valve announced their plans to replace Steam Greenlight with Steam Direct recently, a switch they feel will benefit independent video game developers who are serious about creating quality video games.
The new game submission system has received a backlash from indie developers after Valve warned that Steam Direct will likely come with higher developer fees than its predecessor. While Steam Greenlight only requires developers to pay a one-time fee to submit an unlimited number of games, Steam Direct will require developers to pay every time they apply to submit a game to the program.
The official announcement states, “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.”
Many of indie gaming’s most notable developers and personalities have taken to social media to Twitter to criticize the upcoming change.
Daniel Steger of Steger Games, who made Mount Your Friends, tweeted his concerns saying, “my experience with XBLIG says $5k per title is too much. Hopeful devs will bankrupt themselves w/ no profit..”
Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail, who prophesied the death of Steam Greenlight during an interview back in 2014, tweeted, “Steam Greenlight is dead, long live Steam Pay-light. I’ve always disliked monetary barriers as ‘quality assurance’.”
SteamSpy pointed out that developers from developing countries would have an even bigger struggle than those closer to home, tweeting, “Just to put $5,000 into a perspective for people from developing countries. I bought a two-room apartment in Ukraine for $3,000 back in 2002.”
Dave Lang of Iron Galaxy, developers of Batman: Arkham Knight, tweeted, “Of all the barriers to entry on all the meaningful gaming platforms, Greenlight was by far the stupidest,” before following up with “Unpopular Opinion: If you don’t have money (be it $200 or $5000 or $Whatever) the odds of your game being a financial success is almost 0%.”
Valve believes that the introduction of the new system will reduce the number of sub-par titles slipping through the net while creating an agreeable environment. In reality, we may come to find that fewer great indie games find their big break on Steam. Small development teams may struggle to find the capital to even apply to the program, meaning we could have fewer breakthrough games from intimate teams, reducing the chances of another That Dragon, Cancer or Super Meat Boy.
Do you think that Valves new Steam Direct initiative will have their intended impact? Leave a comment below.