Valve is determined to keep itself in the news this weekend, apparently: Yesterday, the company announced it’s shutting down the Steam Greenlight platform. That’s no big deal; Greenlight’s been a bit of a joke for a long time, such a weak barrier to entry that pundits have long argued there’s so much on Steam that it’s hard to find anything.
Where it gets complicated is in how Valve plans to replace Greenlight: Instead of the company curating what it publishes or players vetting games with easily manipulable votes, the studios themselves will be paying an entry fee to weed out… well, presumably they think it’ll weed out bad games, but it looks more like the actual effect will be to weed out poorbies, students, experimental games, and folks in developing countries — meanwhile, giant distributors pushing out garbage will breeze on by.
“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.”
Valve says that it’s considering fees in the $100 to $5000 range and is still collecting feedback.
Gamasutra’s been polling game developers for their reaction to the move, and the mood is definitely not what I’d call delighted. While most of the dev respondents are indifferent to Greenlight’s existence itself, indie devs are particularly unhappy with the idea that they might be shut out of the market they’ve only just fought to belong in.