Ever since it took of back in 2012, Steam Greenlight has been pretty divisive. For every great game it gave us, about a thousand horrible messes flooded in. So, Valve has decided to introduce Steam Direct instead of Greenlight in Spring 2017. Recently, it seems like the Steam floodgates have never been more open, so it seems like it’s for the better. But, will it really be better? Well…
It’s no secret that Steam’s moderation of Greenlight is lax at best. The curation system was supposed to patch that up a bit, but nothing stop the flood. Unfinished games, meme games, asset flips and the like are absolutely rampant. While the idea of the community democratically deciding which games get on is nice, it failed pretty miserably. Rigging Greenlight votes is super easy, with bartering Steam keys for votes being only one of many ways. Since the uprising of shovelware is rising exponentially, Valve is pulling the plug on the whole operation.
The new system is Steam Direct, and the name says it all. Developers will have to pay a fee to Valve, and they’ll get their game on the platform. We don’t know the exact sum yet, but it’ll be between $100 and $5000, which is a pretty wide ballpark. This fee serves as collateral, it seems. If your game undersells for whatever reason, Valve keeps your money. Otherwise, they still keep a cut of the profits. That’s one of the interpretations of “recoupable fee”, anyway.
The main question that remains is – will this new system clean up Steam of shovelware? Well, one thing is for sure, the financial burden on the developers will be huge. That said, what will prevent people who just want a quick cash grab to just kickstart the necessary funds? If something called Bloody Boobs or Clicker Simulator managed to weasel through Greenlight, why would a fee stop that? That’s assuming that the fee is low. If they go more towards the $5000 route, then fine, maybe. But that might undercut any actually good games that developers just can’t fund.
What this boils down to, both on Greenlight and Direct is self-promotion. Fees do not mean more moderation, no matter how recoupable they are. As long as a game can market itself, it can make it, no matter how horrible. We’ll have to wait and see. Here’s to a fantasy future world where Pooshooter: Toilet Invaders will never be a thing again.