Steam Direct, Valve's replacement for the late, largely-unlamented Steam Greenlight, is now live. The company announced the activation of the new feature with a blog post that, while primarily of interest to developers, also provides some insights into what Valve has planned for the future.
The new service enables developers to upload their games to Steam without having to pass through an approval process, simply by paying a "recoupable" $100 fee. Some restrictions have been put into place to help curb abuse, but Valve acknowledged that it's not entirely certain what to expect coming out of the gate.
"With this transition to Steam Direct, we'll be keeping an eye on new submissions and making adjustments as necessary. We aren't quite sure whether there will be a lot more new submissions, just a bit more, or even fewer. It's most likely that there will be an initial surge of new submissions and then a new rate somewhat higher than what was coming through Greenlight," it wrote.
"Our analysis suggests that quite a bit of the previous volume of submissions to Greenlight was motivated by trading card abuse, which we detailed in our blog post Changes to Trading Cards. With the changes detailed in that blog post, we expect there is a category of game-shaped objects that are unlikely to be worth someone paying even $100 to bring to Steam. So that will likely lower the rate of incoming new titles somewhat. But, Steam Direct also intentionally provides a more transparent and predictable path for new game developers, which is something we heard held back many developers, especially in non-Western countries."
Once the new system has been in place for awhile, Valve said it will share its own analysis of how submissions and the "behavior of developers" has changed. It also threw a shout-out to Defender's Quest developer Lars Doucet and Steam Spy founder Sergey Galyonkin for "holding us accountable, making smart suggestions, and digging into our changes."
For developers, Valve has a Steam Direct Overview page that explains the process of submitting games to Steam under the new rules, and is "rolling out an entirely overhauled documentation system to detail the Steamworks APIs, tools, features, and best practices." It also provided an update on the status of the now-defunct Greenlight, saying that "many of the remaining 3400 titles" that were in the pipeline when it closed have since been approved. Developers whose submissions didn't make the cut can, under some conditions, apply for a refund of the submission fee.