Valve reveals Steam Direct fee, upcoming changes to the store

When Valve announced that it was to do away with Steam Greenlight and replace it with Steam Direct—a direct application process that would charge a 'recoupable' fee for each game submitted—much of the discussion related to how high that fee should be. We thought that it should be as low as possible, and now Valve has come to the same conclusion. The company was considering a fee somewhere between $100 and a whopping $5000, but, in a new Steam blog post, it's been announced that the lowest end of that estimate has been settled on. When Steam Direct goes into effect, developers will have to fork over $100 for each new game they want to appear on Steam, a fee that will be "recoupable", though at the moment it's not clear exactly how.

[Update: Valve has told Ars Technica that it plans to "return the $100 fee after a game hits $1000 in sales".]

"There were rational and convincing arguments made for both ends of the $100-$5000 spectrum we mentioned," Valve explains in the blog post. "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.

"So in the end, 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. 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're also going to closely monitor the kinds of game submissions we're receiving, so that we're ready to implement more features like the Trading Card changes we covered in the last blog post, which aim to reduce the financial incentives for bad actors to game the store algorithm."

Valve is also making changes to the way the Steam Curators system works. In the future, Curators will be able to create, and show, more types of content, including lists, and any YouTube videos they may have made. Meanwhile, if you're following a Curator, you'll find that they'll have a bigger presence on the store. There will also be a system in place that will let Curators and developers work together more easily.

"Unfortunately, while we shipped the Curator feature in the first Discovery update, it hasn't received the attention it needs to be a good solution," Valve admits. "So recently we've spent some time talking and listening to members of both sides—the curators using the system to provide commentary on the Store, and the players using the system to inform their decisions. In both areas we've identified a set of work that we believe will make it more useful.

"We're expanding the kinds of content that Curators can create, allowing them to provide more information to players who are thinking about buying a game, and improving the tools to allow them to easily manage all their recommendations."

There's no date for the rollout of Steam Direct yet—we'll have to wait until the next blog post, which will also cover the "sunsetting" of Steam Greenlight.

Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.