Valve, the creators of Half Life, Left for Dead, and DOTA 2, have announced that their Steam Greenlight voting service is effectively going away. In its place will be a “pay for admission” style of entry if you are wanting to put your game on their service called Steam Direct. The fee has yet to be determined by Valve. What this means is, rather than requiring the community to “vote” to have a game released on Steam, the developer will simply pay a fee to get their game on the Steam Marketplace.
For any independent developer that is striving to make it in the market that has little to no budget to begin with, the Greenlight service was a godsend brought down from the lords of video games giving every title a fair shake at greatness. Now that’s all gone.
This paid entry is much like Apple’s in the sense of their App Store: for an app to be considered for the iOS app store, you would have to pay a fee of $100 before Apple would evaluate it and its authenticity. Only then, if given the go ahead, would your app exist on their marketplace. You would not be recouped this expense and no one was able to sidestep the fee. Valve seems to have taken this as the correct way of moving their service forward by all but copying the idea.
Valve has backed out of curation and is allowing it to die in the deepest, darkest hole it crept from. As you can probably tell, I am not a fan of curation. Far too many times, I’ve been hoodwinked into thinking a game was something more than merely a port of a mobile game or a terrible rehash of a copy of an awful game that was released years ago. You wonder why these games are voted “yes” to be shown to millions of potential gamers. As you can imagine, the Greenlight system could also be corrupted.
There have been accounts of Curators being paid to promote certain games. For a time, it was never required to let the public know which games were paid to promote and which ones weren’t. That has changed.
The fact that this wasn’t done from the beginning still drives me insane.
Mix in people selling their “up votes” or projects that would not have made it through the voting process, makes Steam look even more like a cesspool.
But really, who are we, as a society, to say which games can and cannot be on Steam? I mean who are you? Who am I? I sure didn’t think that Flappy Bird was going to be anything but a page seven joke on a Tuesday afternoon. I would have been wrong.
But this? This is something we should have seen coming. This is something that, from a business aspect, only makes sense. Sure, you want the world to be a place where you can do anything if you put your mind to it and we’re here to help. The problem is that people take advantage of those systems and ruin it for the people that really need it. This will help thin out those that want to abuse the system to get the same attention as the ones who will work their fingers to the bone, night after night, to create something amazing.
This is just another bump that you, the creator of an amazing indie game, will over come. It shows, now more than ever, how important it is to host your game on your own website and use platforms other than just Steam. Platforms like Good Old Games, Itch.io, or Humble Bundle. Who knows how long Steam will be around. If you ask Valve, they’ll say forever. But that’s what IBM said thirty years ago too and look at them.
And you know what? If you are struggling with this new entry fee, send your game to me. Hell, I might even front you the money.
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