Anyone who plays games using the Steam service will have an opinion about Steam Greenlight. The service, meant to allow up and coming developers to get their work onto the service, hasn’t come out with the quality games that we were all hoping for. Steam have apparently had enough of it too, as they’ve just announced that they will be scrapping it and replacing it with a new service called Steam Direct.
This sounds as though it’s going to be a more direct way of developers publishing their games, and hopefully should offer more quality control. In their press release, Steam said that any developers will have to file paperwork with them, in a similar manner to opening a bank account. This could include tax details, company documents, and verification details. They will then need to pay a fee for each game they wish to put on sale, which should be recoupable with their sales figures. The idea is that it reduces the noise in the current flow of new games, and lead to better quality games.
Whether this will work remains to be seen, but it sounds promising. The idea of Steam Greenlight was a great idea, as it gave the power to gamers themselves. A game would be put in their queue, and they would be asked’ are you interested in this game?’ If enough people voted ‘Yes’, then the game would be allowed to go up for sale.
While this should have worked to keep most of the terrible games off Steam, it didn’t seem to work that way. There’s plenty of terrible games available at the moment if you look on Steam, and the press around it proves that the experiment didn’t work. The work of developers Digital Homicide drove critic Jim Sterling to distraction, leading to a full out legal war that ended in Digital Homicide having to cease developing games (to the relief of many). There’s even a whole streaming programme by LoadingReadyRun called ‘Watch & Play’, which is dedicated to playing the worst games they can find. They often come from Steam.
That doesn’t mean that all bad games came out of Steam Greenlight, there were plenty of gems as well. Recent examples include unusual time bending shooter Super Hot, and daft truck traversing platformer Cluster Truck. There’s plenty coming out of Steam Greenlight that’s new, interesting, and doing new things with the medium of gaming.
Will Steam Direct cut the rubbish out of independent games on Steam? Only time will tell. However, it has to be better than what’s currently available.