Monday, 13 February 2017

Steam Greenlight Being Removed And Replaced By Steam Direct - The Consequences

Hello everyone,

Today I will be talking about the changes which Steam, the world's largest PC gaming platform, is going to undertake in the coming months(Spring precisely). 

 Clearly, Valve has decided to remove Steam Greenlight system in which all the players were allowed to vote and share their opinions based on what they saw from video trailers and screenshots. 

Advantages of Steam Greenlight Campaign:

1. Basically, Steam Greenlight is a best place for the developers and gamer to connect with each other and  the developers can build a community of interested players before the launch on Steam. This was a process of marketing and getting exposure before the game is considered for selling on Steam.

2. Steam Greenlight helped developers getting feedback from interested players for improving their project.

3. The low-entry fee also encouraged small studios and even individual developers to put their games on Steam Greenlight for consideration.

A system always have disadvantages too, Steam Greenlight, for instance. For these years, the Steam Greenlight has loosened its barrier and criteria. That means, 50000 votes were no longer required to get greenlit on Steam. Only 300 votes were sufficient enough to get Greenlit. The lower entry fee(one-time fee) and less votes requirements had some disadvantages:

1. Most of the asset-flippers, spammers, and kid developers started putting their games on professional storefront which filled the market with crappy, and awful games and also hurting the original, hardworking developers who were trying their best to put their games on Steam store or even get significant visibility and sales. The good games are always getting buried under the crappy titles and also making it hard to get noticed for real developers.

2. The Greenlight system were also abused by some developers through votes in exchange of free keys.

3. Some joke submissions for a quick buck and thereby, abusing the system.

To cope up with these problems and abuses and to keep joke submissions away, Valve came up with a new system called "Steam Direct" replacing the current system called "Steam Greenlight". So, I will discuss the advantages and dis-advantages of Steam Direct. 

So, what are they saying about Steam Direct?

 Valve wants to make this process better but at the same time, it might have some negative sides too. We can now make assumptions based on the information presented by the representative of Valve. 

What is Steam Direct?
Steam Direct ,as per my knowledge goes, is a process of getting developer's games on Steam on a fee per title basis. Steam Greenlight was a one-time fee and the developers were allowed to upload as many projects as they wanted on Steam Greenlight and that's not the case here.
Steam Direct will be having an entry fee which according to them, will vary between $100 and $5000. Here comes the conflict and the smaller and individual developers are now questioning their sanity. Let us discuss more on advantages of the Steam Direct first.

Advantages of "Steam Direct" publishing process(to be introduced this Spring, 2017):

1. According to Valve, the increase in the entry barrier fee, suppose, $5000, will stop the spammers, joke game developers and asset flippers from entering their store and the store will be having quality games from real and original developers who are working hard to make great games.

2. The distribution process will become more direct. That means, according to Valve, due to the sheer volume of games being submitted per day, it has become impossible for them to curate all the games. That's why they have decided to introduce this large fee in order to stop the crappy games to enter the professional storefront and will not undergo any voting requirement. Once the fee is paid, the developers can release their game on Steam store without any QA.

3. If the entry barrier is low for instance $100 per app submission it will be very much affordable to all kinds of developers whether the developer is an individual, a small indie studio or a big indie studio. 

But it is found that "Steam Direct" has more disadvantages:

These are the assumptions which might happen when "Steam Direct" publishing process goes live.

1. If the entry fee is high for instance $5000, it will probably keep the joke submissions away but not the asset flippers, and scammers who have enough money to waste on these things.

2. Another thing, if the fee is high, it will become impossible for many individual developers and small companies to get their games on Steam. The developers who works hard on their game but do not have enough money to get their games on Steam will lose their dreams of making something great for the world. If Valve does not allow small developers on their platform, there are always many alternatives like Itchio, and more new to come. However, Steam is a great platform to get more exposure as Steam has a large base of 14 million concurrent Steam users.

3. Increasing the Steam entry fee does not mean that it will stop all the asset flippers. The crappy games made by the rich developers can always pass this barrier. So, it will allow more crappy games on the professional storefront since there is no one on Valve's side to curate.

4. Last but not the least, the high entry fee will be a disaster for small studios and individual developers and especially for the developers from third world countries. The newbie developers who wanted to publish their first game has already become disappointed and if the fee is set to $5000, their dream is already killed in the first place. 

5. "Steam Direct" already proved the inability of Valve to curate the contents on Steam and also it will promote only AAA and big indie studio titles who have already become popular in the game industry. The rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer. That's how this system will work with such a high entry fee($5000).
Here is a great post by an Aspiring indie game developer who have provided his own personal view on the matter and I totally agree with him/her as an individual developer:
6. Now, if the fee is very low for instance $100 per app, it might get rid of joke submission because it is no longer a one-time fee. The developer will have to pay $100 per game. However, it can't stop rich developers from getting their crappy, asset flip games on Steam because they would pay the entry fee no matter how high or how low the fee is.
It's just the predictions that might happen if the entry fee per game is very high. This will scare all the small studios and individual developers away from Steam. 

Now all of us will have to wait for the pricing to be set by the Valve. Personally, I want the fee to be somewhere in between $100 to $250 per app. Anything above that will be overpriced at least for me living in the third world countries and even for some developers who are financially broke. I am not an asset flipper, nor a spammer. I make games by hard work and dedication and obviously with love. If Valve screws up with this there is no other choice but moving to another distribution platform.

Different developers have different opinions regarding this pricing fixation. But I have to agree with the statement given by the aspiring indie game developer
I am looking forward to the announcement of the pricing structure from Valve and I hope they will not scare away the small and individual developers. If any change is announced on Steam this blog post will be updated. Please feel free to provide your opinions regarding this system in the comments section.