Steam Direct and the Greenlight roller coaster

We are riding the Greenlight roller coaster with Heart. Papers. Border. and it is intense, it happens way faster than we hoped and we feel unprepared. I don’t think we could have ever be prepared for this, but thinking If Only scenarios is always seductive. However, Valve decided to pull the plug to this democratic way of choosing what games to publish and replace it with something much more open and maybe even much more costly called Steam Direct.

Direct is a sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. No voting, no barriers, but each game submission will cost (perhaps substantially) more than the 100 bucks one would pay for Greenlight. Valve mentioned the price might be “as low as $100 to as high as $5,000“. For the end decision, your guess is as good as mine, and we just have to wait until Spring 2017 when this change has been promised.

It is important to note that Each Submission will demand this fee, even if you are the most rockstar publisher ever. This means that even if the Direct fee remains $100, you still have to pay as many times as the games you plan to launch, which is not the ever permissive way of Greenlight which is a one time fee.

We reacted to this news instinctively.

I don’t like chance so we bought a Greenligh pass as soon as we got back from Casual Connect (who needs sleep when one can Greenlight, really 😀). My take on this is that I don’t want to risk a substantially higher fee. If the worst case scenario happens (ie Direct will cost $5000), I get to at least save $4900 which I can gladly use for art or other countless other things (like paying a poor soul to make a .gif and save myself the trouble to learn, like I just did. I DID JUST LEARN TO MAKE GIFS IN PHOTOSHOP THO! <3 OK, I’ll stop bragging now).

Heart. Papers. Border. - I Made a GIF!
Heart. Papers. Border. – I Made a GIF!

But like everything in life, the death of Greenlight and the birth of Steam Direct has pros and cons. Here are my pros:

  • Cost per submission means a more gated content, not everyone who passed Greenlight once will be able to push any game in any state at no cost
  • The higher the cost of submission the more serious I would expect the submissions to become. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any rich people out there who really don’t mind to drop 5k for each their games
  • It’s kinda nice to buy a pass and relax, and not palpitate for a few weeks until you actually get Greenlit, like I do now (and I promise I only refresh the Heart. Papers. Border. page once every 5 minutes, which is a great progress compared to this morning when I was refreshing it once every 30 seconds :D)

But of course, I have some cons as well:

  • The “as high as $5,000” is scary even for me who lives in Sweden, I don’t even want to think about any developer not part of the Nordics/ Western Europe/ US
  • I worry that publishers get more power, especially the not nice ones who will promise to pay the fee for impossible deals – and there are so many naive and yound devs out there, that even a lower fee would contribute to that
  • No votes or any kind of review process means that anyone with money can publish pretty much everything he wants. Not that this isn’t the case today

For the record, @Steam_Spy and Lars Doucet already polled quite a lot of people and here is what we seem to want (hint: its under $5000, but not by that much).

Me? I just wait and desperately hope for Heart. Papers. Border. to be Greenlit Right Now. Just in case, you know? Errr.. vote, please?