It is the end of an era: Steam is closing down Greenlight to make way for Steam Direct.
Originally launched in August of 2012, Greenlight was a way for Steam to get a better feel for what the larger gaming community wanted to be released in their market space.
Before Greenlight, Steam just had a small team of individuals handpicking which titles were to be featured, but it was both hard to keep up with submissions and harder still to keep the team’s tastes from flavouring what games got released. Greenlight allowed players to vote for which titles they wanted to see and ushered in a golden age of indie titles. Smash hits like Rogue Legacy, Stardew Valley, Dead Cells, Verdun, and 7 Days To Die were all Greenlight submissions.
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In total, 10 million players have voted on games in the Greenlight program, and Greenlight titles have racked up an astounding 3.5 billion hours of combined player gameplay.
But all good things must come to an end. In Greenlight’s case, the end came as more and more bad “developers” began to release fake games using the program. In doing so, those same developers would be able to farm Steam cards by setting up bots to sit idly in their game. Since the Steam cards had real monetary value, these bad actors were able to accrue a profit and cheat the system.
It may have continued too, but Valve is first and foremost a data-driven company, and these fake games were ruining all their algorithms. Rather than axe the Steam trading card system, something that is of real benefit to real developers, Valve decided to retire Greenlight and set up a new program in its place called Steam Direct.
Steam Direct will operate similarly to Greenlight, but with a few differences. First, developers will need to pony-up a $100 recoupable fee for each game they release. This alone will cut down on many of the fake games being submitted, but on top of that, there will be a 30 day grace period for any new developers before their game is released on Steam, which will be used to evaluate the game and ensure it meets all Steam’s requirements. In addition, they’re also adding a “confidence metric” that means trading cards don’t start to appear until Steam is convinced that the player isn’t a bot.
The switchover won’t be without growing pains. There are currently over 3400 Greenlight submissions still waiting for review, which will now have to wait for Valve to check them over by hand. The games selected will be the last Greenlight entries, with unselected games able to submit to Steam Direct after it starts on June 13.