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Steam Greenlight Becomes Steam Direct

After five years, Steam Greenlight, the service that lets fans vote on which games make their way onto Steam's digital marketplace, is closing down. In its place, Valve will launch Steam Direct, a new system designed to "provide developers and publishers with a more direct publishing path and ultimately connect gamers with even more great content."

Steam Direct will allow publishers and developers to submit their games directly to Steam via a process that Valve describes as similar to applying for a bank account. In addition, anyone who submits a game through Steam Direct will have to pay a per-game fee that'll cost between $100 and $5,000—Valve is waiting "to gather more feedback" before settling on an exact figure. Steam Direct will launch sometime this spring.


In the Steam Direct announcement, Valve praises the old Greenlight service for helping to "lower the barrier to publishing for many developers." Valve claims that over 100 games that made it through the Greenlight approvals process grossed over $1 million in sales, and notes that many of those games "would likely not have been published in the old, heavily curated Steam store."

However, by opening the Steam platform up to (almost) everybody, the number of games on Steam's store skyrocketed—4,000 titles were released on Steam in 2016 alone—and Valve says that the crowded marketplace leads to a difficult submission process for publishers, while also making it harder for customers to find the types of games that they're looking for.


Improvements like discovery queues, user-generated classification tags, and curated collections helped alleviate the strain brought on by the flood of Steam Greenlight titles—thanks to behind the scenes tweaks, Valve says that the average number of games purchased by Steam users has doubled, while the time that customers spend actually playing games is up significantly—and the Steam Direct service should streamline both game publishing and game purchasing even more.

Making video games is hard enough as it is, and both publishers and fans should welcome anything that reduces the clutter on Steam. However, some critics are concerned that Steam Direct's entry fee will hinder the development of student and/or alternative games, which are often made by small teams that lack monetary resources (listing a game on Steam Greenlight currently requires a small $100 payment).