A few days ago, Steam announced plans to cancel its Steam Greenlight program and replace it with a new system called Steam Direct. This seems to be like any other change companies go through when trying to evolve and grow, but what impact will this have on the games that are produced from here on out?
From Game Developers to Game Producers
Let us briefly review Valve’s history. Valve has climbed its way to the top with their series of popular and iconic game titles such as Half Life, Portal and Left for Dead. From there, they created the incredibly well known game store, Steam. People all over the world were suddenly given easy access to an immense online library of reasonably priced games. Valve followed this up with Steam Greenlight. This development allowed companies of all statures to publish their games on to Steam, with no favouritism for larger corporations. With Steam Greenlight, both new and old developers were able to gain a larger audience and expand their reach in the gaming world.
Despite its outstanding success, Valve previously talked about their dissatisfaction towards their Steam Greenlight program back in early 2013. The President and co-founder, Gabe Newell expressed that he feels the program is “bad for the Steam community” and only a year later said that he wanted to get rid of it because they were “evolving”. Valve’s front runners feel that Steam Greenlight has more flaws than they are comfortable with. They want to appeal to new gamers and demographics. The platform wants a more diverse community for every kind of gamer. Steam Direct is what Valve believes to be the right path to these improvements.
The Future of Steam
Set to be launched in Spring 2017, a new sign up system will include digital paperwork, a verification process and taxing docs similar to a bank account application. After these steps, the developer or developers have to pay a refundable fee for the game they are trying to get published. Steam is currently discussing what a fair fee price would be. They have talked it over with both developers and game studios, and have had suggestions ranging from $100 – $5,000. These of course aren’t finalised plans, but a starting point for Steam’s developers.
My worry, and probably others as well, is whether or not this leaves more room for other games to never again see the light of day. Although Steam has promised to keep things developer and publisher friendly for all, how will this affect the future of indie game companies? Since 2014, indie games have been on the rise. Game titles such as Five Nights at Freddy’s, Undertale, No Man’s Sky and Fire Watch, to name a popular few, have found success because of their fresh ideas and the open market of indie games.
It seems over the last few years, indie game developers have found themselves being marketable alongside AAA games in their genres. Fortunately, Steam insists it will focus on providing all developers, publishers and gamers with a more direct route to their content. They are re-designing their marketing content and store to give fans a better gaming experience.
Steam aims to pave the way for developers with a simpler marketing system for their games. We will keep you posted on any Steam Direct news released.