Valve's digital distribution service was originally created as a way to keep the company's own games up to date and to protect against piracy through DRM. Two years after its launch, Valve brought on the first outside publisher to Steam in 2005. Major publishers would continue to make showings on the platform alongside a handful of indie developers (typically through some kind of publisher partnership). Finally, in 2012, the Steam Greenlight system was released to the world to make it easier for games to get onto Steam.
Steam Greenlight was based on a simple concept - use a voting system to gauge the interest of consumers for upcoming titles on the platform. When a developer hit a certain threshold of votes - it's typically been kept under wraps - the campaign to get a game on Steam would be "greenlit" and Valve would reach out to the developer. A greenlit game would eventually make its way onto the platform for purchase.
As of today, the system is being retired entirely by Valve, set to be replaced by Steam Direct which had its submission fee announced a few days ago. No new game submissions are being taken for the digital distribution platform. As it stands, there are currently over 3,400 projects on Steam Greenlight that have either not garnered the votes or even started their campaign. Valve has stated that campaigns which have not yet begun are eligible for a refund if the developer so chooses.
Steam Direct will be a much more straightforward system. A developer has to enter in basic business and tax information, pay a $100 recoupable fee, and wait for Valve to check their game and approve it. The submission fee is recouped by the developer after the first $1,000 in sales. The approval process will make sure the game is configured correctly, matches the store page description, and doesn't contain any malicious content - a process that Valve has been refining over the past year.
Developers who have never published on Steam will have to wait for a minimum of 30 days to give Valve time to ensure all of the paperwork relating to their business and tax information is correct. Additionally, they must put up a "Coming Soon" page for a couple of weeks, largely to gauge interest and give the community the opportunity to point out any issues that Valve may have missed in their initial review (such as if the game appears to be an asset flip).
For the moment, Valve is working their way through the backlog of Greenlight games to bring them into the fold. Even so, it won't be a free-for-all - Valve is carefully looking over factors such as vote data, reports, and any concerns from customers to prevent any potentially damaging games from slipping through the cracks. Developers who do not pass this final wave of Greenlight submissions will be eligible for a refund of their submission fee. Steam Direct will launch on June 13, 2017.
What do you think of Steam Greenlight being replaced with Steam Direct? Do you think this is ultimately a positive for the digital distribution platform? Which of the two systems do you prefer? Do you think a third alternative would be better? Let us know in the comments below!