Valve is set to drop its Steam Greenlight system — which allows customers to vote on small-scale and fledgling projects — in favor of a more streamlined system.
Greenlight will be canned this spring and replaced with Steam Direct. Greenlight was launched in 2012 as a way to gauge consumer interest in small projects. Users could express their interest in Greenlight games, without making a purchase commitment. Those games that received the most interest were "greenlit" and allowed to be published in full on Steam's retail portal.
Valve originally positioned Greenlight as a way for the company to step back from evaluating and curating every last project that was submitted to the company. Last year alone, more than 4,000 new titles were released on Steam.
Steam Direct will dispense with any kind of popularity contest. Developers will now simply fill out a form, submit their game to a basic compatibility test, pay a fee and launch the game.
The fee is likely to prove a point of contention. Under Greenlight, developers pay a one-off $100 fee, under which they can then submit as many apps as they please. The new fee will be per project. Valve says that the new fee will likely be higher than $100, and is considering anything up to $5,000. The firm says it wants to find a balance between allowing struggling but talented creators to launch great new games, while discouraging multiple launches of questionable quality and seriousness.
Tom Giardino, business development manager at Steam, said that Greenlight is now regarded internally at Valve as a "stepping stone," to Steam Direct. He said that more than 100 Greenlight titles have made at least $1 million each, most of which would not have been published under the previous system of internal evaluations.
According to Valve, Greenlight is becoming a problem for developers, who are frustrated by the uncertainty of the process, and its opacity. The company is talking to independent developers to gauge its next move, most particularly the level of the fee.
Giardino also said that consumer interest in voting for Greenlight games has diminished in recent years, particularly as its various discovery systems for the retail site as a whole now rely on a similar system.
Steam Early Access, under which developers can sell incomplete builds of games, will not be affected by this change.
We'll have more news from Valve in the days ahead, including an interview with company founder Gabe Newell.