Last week Valve announced Steam Direct, a replacement for Greenlight which will allow any developer to submit their game to Steam for a "recoupable application fee." Valve hasn't decided what the fee will be, but says it's considering values between $100 and $5,000.
For small or one-person indie developers, five grand could be well out of reach, locking them out of Steam unless they take out a loan or crowdfund. Publisher Raw Fury, known for games such as Kingdom and Gonner, has stepped in to offer help. If the fee winds up being on the expensive side, the publisher plans to cover the cost for developers who can't afford it.
Which games Raw Fury supports will come down to its discretion. "We'll have to curate a bit and, based on submissions, grant the funds to the projects we think could really be something," said Raw Fury's David Martinez in an email to PC Gamer.
"At the end of the day we'll also be running this on kind of an honor system," added CEO Jonas Antonsson. "We're pretty optimistic over here and tend to believe in people, so we'll probably be leaning on and communicating that belief and ask devs to remember that we can only support a limited amount of games, so they should only submit if they really need the help."
Developers who receive Raw Fury's help with the fee won't be required to make a publishing deal. "We wouldn’t ask for any stake in games we support in this way, we’d just pay the fee upfront and give the dev team a high five," reads the publisher's post. Raw Fury would ask, however, that developers who take the grant and have success on Steam return the fee so it can be used to get another game on Steam.
Without knowing the size of the fee or the exact details of the Steam Direct process, specifics about the program are forthcoming. "We would love feedback on the whole thing," wrote Antonsson, "as someone out there might have an even better approach to this." On that note, Raw Fury can be contacted via email and Twitter.
In an article last week, I argued that the Steam Direct fee should err low so as not to keep out smaller developers. I anticipated that a high fee would just outsource Greenlight to crowdfunding platforms. I didn't consider the kind of program Raw Fury proposes, however, which adds another wrinkle. If the fee is high, the curation of independent, low-budget Steam games could also happen via individual patrons.