Valve's Greenlight system for getting new games onto its distribution platform went from approving 5-10 games a month to 75-100. Indies complained about the small numbers getting through and now that it's been addressed, developers are now facing a new problem — being noticed.
Daav Valentaten over at GG3 spoke to Martin Pichlmair from Broken Rules about their greenlit title Secrets of Raetikon. Pichlmair believes that Valve is neglecting its "role as a curator" and that it just "pushes games on Steam nowadays". He goes on to mention that Raetikon was visible for a mere 15 minutes in Steam's new releases section, before it was shuffled off by fresher contenders.
Pichlmair blames the influx of new titles for depriving Raetikon of a fair spot on Steam's front page. He also isn't happy with what he feels is Valve's policy of only promoting already successful indie games:
Currently Steam seems to only feature the games that sell well. It seems to be evolving into a data driven hype machine. From a financial standpoint that’s understandable. But I can imagine that this will hurt them in the long time. It means that games that fall outside of current trends won’t have much chance of making money on Steam. So why should developers keep putting their game on Steam?
As a developer that had to go through Steam, I want to sympathise with Pichlmair's position. It's true that it's harder than ever to get noticed these days, but it's still up to a studio to market and promote its games and not rely on Valve's juggernaut to get the job done.
Steam plays a massive role in the financial success of many indie PC titles, but it's no longer the golden ticket it once was. It's going to take a combination of avenues: GOG, Desura and others, along with bundles and the like, if you want to do well.