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Steam users are more than likely familiar with Steam Greenlight, the community-based voting system that allows gamers the ability to express interest in smaller indie games without committing to purchasing the game.  Today, Steam has declared that Spring 2017 will mark the end for Greenlight, which has been running since 2012. Instead, Steam will focus on a new service called “Steam Direct”.

The success of Steam Greenlight has varied – while plenty of commercially successful titles have come from this service (Steam cites one hundred games that have made at least one million dollars through Greenlight), there are also many low-quality games cluttering up the service, with more than a few serving as quick cash flips that utilize assets stolen from other games. Steam notes that there were two recurring problems over the past five years: not enough ways for gamers to find Greenlight content that appealed to them and not enough ways to bring new content to Steam through the service.

To address community feedback as well as their own observations, Steam is shutting down Greenlight at an undisclosed point in Spring 2017, replacing it with a new service called “Steam Direct”. There are a few key points of difference between Greenlight and Direct; Direct is doing away with community voting altogether, opting instead to have developers directly submit games for approval through the new sign-up process. Additionally, new developers will have to complete a submission process consisting of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents as a method of verifying the submitter’s authenticity and seriousness.

Greenlight saw developers submit a single one-off fee of $100, which would allow them to submit as many applications as they wished for the Greenlight process. Under Direct, developers would have to pay a fee for every application they submit, with fees ranging from one hundred dollars to five thousand dollars. This is intended to cut down on low-quality submissions or cash flips from cluttering submissions; at the time of writing this article, an exact monetary amount for Direct applications has not been decided upon, as the company is taking feedback from developers before deciding on how much to charge.


Quick Take

I’m a little concerned about Direct, specifically the new submission fee. I feel that pricing submissions too high will lock out smaller, fledgling indie developers while not specifically addressing consumer concerns about content quality and quantity. I also feel that making Direct a direct submission process instead of involving the community through voting gets rid of the spirit of Greenlight and is likely to turn off a lot of people from using the service, especially as Steam says that many of the games that came out of Greenlight wouldn’t have made it through previous internal evaluations.

What are your thoughts on Steam Greenlight? Do you think Steam was right to cancel it? Let us know in the comment section below.


Brandon Bobal

Partner Manager

Brandon writes articles with focuses on video and board games, and Magic: The Gathering. When he isn't doing research for his weekly Magic: The Gathering column, he can be found enjoying the outdoors.