Steam has been taking steps towards the removal of Steam Greenlight for some time now. Steam Direct is taking over now, a service where anyone can release a game on Steam with some paperwork, a $100 fee and, of course, passing some kind of Valve’s review process. All this would not be a problem if a bulk of games were greenlit in a matter of a day or two, out of the blue, by Valve.
The whole idea of Steam Direct is based on Valve’s precarious intent to build a “release pipeline” for “thousands of developers and millions of customers”. They are trying to make it easier for developers to bring content to their webstore, but at the same time they need some kind of control of the said content. Unfortunately, just like with Greenlight, they seem to be relying a lot on their users to help out.
Valve described their current way of doing things: “We have a couple of brief review periods where our team plays each game to check that it is configured correctly, matches the description provided on the store page, and doesn’t contain malicious content. These processes shouldn’t take more than a day or two unless we find something configured incorrectly or problematic.” This seems both a lot (as we are talking thousands of potential games brought to the table at very short time periods) and not enough (how big is the team? how much time do they actually spend playing the game?).
Still, the switch to Steam Direct is supposed to benefit Steam in a couple of other ways. First, it should reduce or completely discourage the publishing of the so-called “asset flips”. Second, it should kill off the “trading card abuse business”. Hopefully, the price of $100 will stop people from publishing garbage in order to make a quick buck.
That is all well and great, but the majority of over 3,400 games that were in the Greenlight service at the moment have been greenlit. Most of them have yet to be finished, but we are talking about a huge amount of games that will hit the store in the next few months. It remains to be seen whether this change will benefit Steam, and ultimately, their clients.