Valve Announces $US100 Steam Direct Fee For Indie Games

Image: Steam

After admitting that Greenlight hadn't quite worked out as a the ideal vetting process for Steam games, Valve will be returning to a more manual approach, with the addition of a fee, called "Steam Direct". Until now, Valve hadn't quite settled on what that fee would be, but today it announced the magic number: $US100.

If $US100 sounds familiar, that's because it's the same price developers had to pay to get onto Greenlight.

So really, it's no different to coughing up for the old system, except rather than being given the thumbs-up — literally — by the community, games will have to pass through whatever new process the company comes up with internally.

Originally, Valve had been considering sums as high as $US5000 that, understandably, didn't go down well with the more cash-strapped indies. In the end, the company couldn't "justify" going with a top-end value:

Our internal thinking beforehand had us hovering around the $500 mark, but the community conversation really challenged us to justify why the fee wasn't as low as possible, and to think about what we could do to make a low fee work ... we've decided we're going to aim for the lowest barrier to developers as possible, with a $100 recoupable publishing fee per game, while at the same time work on features designed to help the Store algorithm become better at helping you sift through games.

The announcement goes on to detail how it plans to improve the algorithm:

We're going to look for specific places where human eyes can be injected into the Store algorithm, to ensure that it is working as intended, and to ensure it doesn't miss something interesting ... We believe that if we inject human thinking into the Store algorithm, while at the same time increasing the transparency of its output, we'll have created a public process that will incrementally drive the Store to better serve everyone using it.

I think it's fair to say that Steam is large enough now that going back to an entirely black-box submission system is destined for failure, so anything it can do to leverage its massive user base is a plus. Clearly, Greenlight wasn't the way to do it, but Valve seems confident it's on a better track now with Direct.

Steam Direct Fee & Upcoming Store Updates [Steam]


    Im okay with this. If it keeps out the kind of crap digital homicide produced then it will be a success

    I still think it should be higher. I don't think Steam should be a platform for absolutely every game ever made. The ratio of noise is still incredibly high, even with their new algorithms to try to filter it out. It's basically useless as a discovery platform.

      I disagree heavily, considering the major part of the consumer-base that boldly claim "I'll never buy a game if it's not on Steam".

        Then perhaps PC gaming shouldn't be delivering a monopoly on digital distribution/DRM to Steam/Valve?

        I wouldn't object to everything being on Steam if they could adequately sort out what people want to see, but Valve routinely fail to do so. Games drown in a sea of noise - whether it's from low quality high output indie titles (which this $100 charge won't offset - provided they believe it's going to be a return on investment), niche titles that are of little interest to most people, or Early Access titles.

        I guess it's up to Valve to act as gatekeepers against trash. But it's still not going to result in it being a good discovery platform. I don't find out about new games from Steam because there's so many titles, and very few are worth even hovering over.

          It's not a monopoly just because they provide a better service than basically everyone else, they are not to blame for the sub-par offerings of others.

          EA/Ubisoft could've easily tried something similar with Origin/Uplay, instead they walled themselves off wanting to play only with themselves. Meanwhile Valve offer Steam as a platform welcoming all.

          Blizzard and CD Projekt are the only ones I can think of who've done it for themselves and not ended up with a mediocre platform as a result.

            You do remember that Steam started as a way for Valve to control their own digital distribution and not as a store initially, right?

            There are other alternatives like GOG and Desura. But as OP stated - "No Steam, no sale!" Means they aren't first choice. And it's because Steam is huge and people don't want to deal with other platforms. By this point it hardly matters what the other platforms do - Steam has cornered the market and we let it capture it with thunderous applause. A gilded cage is still a cage.

              Gilded cage? Aside from GOG it's no more restrictive than any other service. How dare it offer better functionality and features than basically everything else I guess.

              Of course they're the first choice, they spent years earning that. Meanwhile EA gives people ZERO choice anymore, and Ubisoft games still redirect to their competing launcher/storefront even if you buy them on Steam... Something which is VERY odd for Steam to even allow if they are the controlling and restrictive entity you paint them as.

              People don't want to deal with other platforms because nearly all of of them have been mediocre efforts, and the ones remaining largely still are. Blizzard is easily the only one who have a launcher platform of any sort that rivals the quality and usability of Steam.

              Wanting to use Steam is far more of an issue with the lack of quality alternatives that even bothered to try what Valve have done. CD Projekt (GOG) is really the only one who are even attempting it, and its still very early days for them comparatively but I highly doubt they're going to disappear.

              You absolutely come off like you have issue with Valve/Steam for no other reason but the fact its the most popular, all while ignoring the reasons as to why that is the case. Instead you want to fault Valve for the fact nobody has bothered to really try competing with them. By that logic anyone who does something first may as well be the devil because they didn't wait for others to start doing it as well.

              Last edited 03/06/17 10:43 pm

                Wow, calm down. You're almost treating this like an insult. I'm pointing out that Valve started Steam the same way that EA and Blizzard started their services. And Steam was hated back then. Maybe you don't remember.

                None of the other services will ever improve or match Steam because they can't create that critical mass to convince users to use them. Steam is now convenient and ubiquitous - that's why it's popular now. Doesn't matter what the other platforms do by this stage, they will never approach Steam's user base no matter how good they are. And we keep Steam's grip on PC gaming by chanting 'No Steam no sale.'

                I'm not saying Steam is shit or Valve are evil, just that we've delivered gaming to them on a plate and killed any real chance for competition. I remember the first Steam release, how it killed WON and how awful it was. It took years for it to get better, and longer for it to be a decent store. Valve are to be commended for the platform, and oddly by making online DRM a demanded feature in PC gaming.

                  And we keep Steam's grip on PC gaming by chanting 'No Steam no sale.'
                  You're putting a lot of faith in nicktofficial's claim, based on what exactly?

                  If a 'major part of the consumer-base' was running around boldly claiming anything of the sort you'd hear about it constantly... And I can barely recall one incident of it when Dark Souls 1 was coming to PC, that's it. While I may not be the most observant, you'd still think anyone who has been a user of Steam since launch would've ran into it quite a number of times if it was this massive thing. It's simply not the case.

                  There are definitely people who prefer games on Steam, but never have I ever witnessed this collection of the masses who seriously claim they're not buying a game just because its not coming to Steam... On top of which, to find a group who claims that and then also all stick to said claim is even more unlikely. No, much more likely is that they ramble off some hollow threats and then buy it anyway wherever it releases... It'd be the Modern Warfare 2 boycotts all over again.

            "And we keep Steam's grip on PC gaming by chanting 'No Steam no sale.'"
            You're putting a lot of faith in nicktofficial's claim, based on what exactly?

            Statistics. Steam is THE game distribution system. If you don't exist on Steam, then for millions of people, you simply don't exist. People didn't say "no steam, no sale" for Dark Souls because everyone simply assumed it would come to Steam. Also it was a title for a niche market of rabid fanboys (and still is, just a very vocal market).

            GOG has a bunch of people, but on balance, people are more likely to be buying an old game from GOG than a new indie game.

            Desura? Hah, you've gotta be kidding! It's a niche market at best. Hell, I'd be willing to bet that there's a higher volume of people/games acquired from the Humble Store/Humble Monthly than Desura.

            Steam is the defacto standard for the online gaming storefront because it's the biggest thing and everyone has access to it. Everyone knows about Steam sales. There are kotaku articles on Steam (like this one!) and Steam sales, and on Humble bundles, and occasionally about GOG when there's some cool game available for free. When was the last time you read about any other digital storefront?

            If you're an indie dev and you want to sell tons of copies, you need to get on Steam, and you need to get noticed. It's the best way to get exposure to a massive number of potential players.

      There are tons of tools for controlling what you see on Steam, but you have to use them. Do you regularly browse your discovery queue and mark games you're not interested in? Do you subscribe to curators whose tastes you share?

      I have no problem discovering what I want on Steam, but it would be nigh impossible for the platform to figure it out on its own if I wasn't telling it what I like along the way.

        I do, and I appreciate the effort that's gone into it so far, but it still displays loads of titles that I'd never even consider and have never shown interest in. Sometimes it just pulls random titles from curators even though that title has absolutely nothing in common with the games I view, own, or follow.

        It still takes quite a bit of effort to train Steam to get it to display things that are of relevance or interest, and even then it fails quite a bit. It's been like this for ages. Having a load of titles to sort through doesn't help it.

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