On June 6, Valve officially let the curtain fall on Greenlight and began preparations for Steam Direct. Independent developers immediately understood how things were about to change. The service was to be launched less than a week later. Still, nothing particularly specific about it could be found online at the time.
Additionally, some of the titles submitted to Greenlight before its death were still waiting for a response. That matter would only be solved afterwards with the decision to approve all requests en-masse.
Whether that was a good idea remains to be seen. Many of these projects needed at least a fresh coat of paint before they could be sold. If Valve aims are to reduce market floods and improve its goods’ overall quality, rushing hundreds of games through QA may have been a huge mistake.
As expected, Steam Direct saw the light of day on June 13. Larger media outlets were quick to ride the hype wave, going all out with information. Here at The Indie Toaster – instead – we decided to sit back and see how things would evolve. 60 or so hours later, here’s what we’ve gathered.
With Steam Direct, You’ll Need Money To Make Money…
The mantra has long been abused by marketers and business owners alike. The theory behind investing some of your savings to generate earnings is not completely wrong, though. You should always have a bit of money on one side, ready for when the shit hits the fan.
Valve made disposable incomes the central point of their new system. All developers willing to publish to Steam should ready their wallets. One of the first details to come across is how the registration process once again includes a payment request.
A recoupable 100$ app fee will be applied to each and all submissions. Valve also said how the sum is non-refundable but should be repaid once roughly 1000$ in sales are reached. Good luck getting your 99 cents retro meta-narrative experience past the mark.
One of the objectives of Steam Direct is, indeed, to limit the number of raw games being sent in for review. Perhaps this fee is a first step towards that. Greenlight licences also existed, but the payment only needed to be made once. Students and younger creatives may find it hard to keep up.
Effectively, asking them to throw in some money with each form – even just 100 USD – may stop some devs from going through the process altogether. Want to hear it directly from one of your colleagues? I’ll leave these thoughts/rant here for you!
… And You’ll Probably End Up Stuck in Traffic
The second major difference introduced by Steam Direct is the revamped approval process. Games will be manually tested before they’re allowed on the store. The company spoke of two brief review periods. Actual human beings are going to sit down with the game, play it for a while, and decide whether it’s good enough.
There might be a monster lurking in the shadows, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. When Greenlight was finally put down – like the rabid beast it had become would deserve – more than 4000 games were left behind. Even though everybody knew of its future, the platform continued to receive hundreds of requests every week. That’s a lot of games for someone to go through.
If they want to dedicate at least a couple of hours to each title, 100 games would take 2 to 300 hours to be analyzed. Unless Valve hires a small army of reviewers, developers should start considering the possibility for heavy delays. The wait period is currently set at 30 days, but we can see it easily reaching 40 or 60 once more stuff comes in.
Even with a larger team, we’d have someone toiling away to play one title after another. Valve only wants to check for functionality, but will its employees’ opinions always be unbiased? What happens when stress, tiredness, and personal taste come into play?
Let’s Try Something Else!
Finding the perfect mix quantity, quality, and accessibility is a daunting endeavor, especially for a tech giant. Steam Direct will likely go through several restyles before the community is completely happy and comfortable with the results. Just like with any other major update, adaptation could take months if not years.
At the same time, you should keep in mind that dealing with Valve is no longer the only option! Several other websites – including the renowned GoG and Itch.Io – offer their own distribution platforms. Where, for some reason, Steam Direct doesn’t feel right, these alternatives might!
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