Back in February, Valve announced that they would be bringing their Steam Greenlight project to an end, and replacing it with Steam Direct, which would aim to address a lot of the concerns critics and users alike had towards Greenlight.
Much discussion had been made of the proposed changes, with Valve clearly going to extreme lengths to answer some of their most voracious critics. One of the largest changes Steam Direct would bring, was a proposed payment per game that would hopefully filter out many of the developers who were, essentially, trying their luck – and there has been discussion about what value this initial payment should be from the announcement, with proposed charges ranging from $100 to $5000.
After much discussion with independent parties, Valve has laid out their plans for Steam Direct in a blog post, confirming that developers will pay $100 to submit their work, per game. However, that fee will be recoupable after a game has achieved $1000 in sales. In addition, while Direct will still have a fee Valve plans to still use both their store algorithm and the human eye to keep an eye out for any abuse of the system, as Valve has already made note of in regards to changes to Steam Trading Cards.
Back when we announced Steam Direct in February, we hadn’t decided how much developers would need to pay to publish their games. We knew that we wanted it to be as small as possible to ensure it wasn’t a barrier to beginning game developers, while also not being so small as to invite easy abuse by people looking to exploit our systems. […] There were rational & convincing arguments made for both ends of the $100-$5000 spectrum we mentioned. Our internal thinking beforehand had us hovering around the $500 mark, but the community conversation really challenged us to justify why the fee wasn’t as low as possible, and to think about what we could do to make a low fee work.
More improvements are also coming to the Steam Curator system. Created in September of 2014, Steam Curators were originally little more than recommendations. With these improvements, Valve plan to give the system more teeth. As Valve highlight, a large percent of curators also have YouTube followings, and part of the improvements allow curators to post links to YouTube videos relevant to their reviews. Curators will also be able to group games into customized lists, giving them the flexibility to create lists based on developer, game genre, or just whether or not the game has frogs in it. Curators will now also feature more prominently in the Store experience, ensuring that Steam users are seeing the opinions of the curators they trust.
These changes come alongside a larger move on Valve’s part to improve the store experience as a whole. At the start of May, Valve announced they would be changing the Steam Store’s algorithm, and also making the reasons behind recommendations visible to customers. Not long after that, they also announced changes to the way that the Steam Trading Cards had functioned, bringing some abuse on that system to an end.
Valve have also confirmed that the final blog post in this series of Store improvements will focus on the end of Steam Greenlight, and when we can expect to see Steam Direct.
Should Valve be doing more to manually curate the Steam store or Steam Direct submission process? Or will Valve’s existing process of the minimum of human checks work fine with the new barriers to entry? Let us know what you think below.