Kongregate is launching a new, more Steam-like storefront called Kartridge

Online gaming portal Kongregate will launch a new digital storefront this summer called Kartridge, offering downloadable and premium games alongside social and Steam-like features including chat, achievements, and user levels. It also promises to make life easier for developers by eliminating manual approval processes and application fees, and enabling them to charge whatever they want (including nothing at all) for their games. 

The announcement emphasizes that Kartridge is not a replacement for Kongregate, which is "healthy and doing well." But Flash and Unity Webplayer are losing support in browsers, and that's pushing web developers to move to downloadable games instead. "The Kongregate mission statement is 'To nurture the growth and health of independent game developers and player communities,'" it says. "So we wanted to expand our community focus and developer advocacy to include even more parts of the gaming world." 

The goal is to build Kartridge into a separate and distinct platform and community. Chat functionality won't be interconnected, for one thing, and user levels will be separate. There will also be different expectations for user conduct, and Kongregate plans to "improve the quality of chat in meaningful ways," details of which will be revealed at some point down the road.

The Steam Direct experience suggests that doing away with approval requirements and upload fees might be an invitation to chaos, but Kongregate says it will take an active role in matching players with games. "We have a dedicated editorial team that will use their experience in content curation for Kongregate.com for over a decade to make sure that good games are given the chance to find an audience," it said. "Games will be showcased based on what is resonating with our players and our team in addition to some surfacing based on a player’s individual preferences." 

Kongregate co-founder and CEO Emily Greer told GamesIndustry that its hands-on approach, contrasted with Steam's automated systems, will help bring attention to games that would otherwise go overlooked. 

"We acknowledge Steam's leadership in the industry, but we feel there is a gap in the market offering that we are uniquely qualified to remedy," she said. "We have more than 10 years of experience running a thriving gaming community and online gaming destination. Our publishing business has given us a clear perspective into what developers need to be successful."

Kartridge is expected to roll out sometime in the summer. Allowing for tweaks and changes as it evolved, this is what it will look like.