In an effort to clamp down on sales of Steam games across third party bundle sites or grey market ones like G2A, Valve is going to make some changes to their system and will no longer automatically fulfil key requests made by developers.
While previously it has been a practice by many developers to request game keys from Valve and then sell them on bundle websites, it seems like this might no longer will be a possibility as Valve will be removing the automated system and will “take a deeper look” at the game’s sales on Steam and a number of factors before approving the request.
This information was revealed via the Developer Only section of Steam where Valve representative Sean J presented an example that if the game has sold only a few thousand copies on Steam and the developer requests 500,000 keys, Valve will look into the matter and then decide whether they should approve this or not.
As to why Valve is suddenly taking this “harsh” stance, from a business point it makes sense. Even if games are bought from third party websites, all the traffic does end up going back to Steam which puts a pressure on Valve as they have to bear the infrastructure costs while not receiving any revenue from game sales. While this shouldn’t affect any big developers and publishers and is actually intended to target developers who want to intentionally cut Valve out of game profits while continuing to use them as a distribution platform, this move might actually backfire and hurt legit small scale developers as well.
If a Steam key request gets rejected under this new system, the developers might have to reduce their game prices to boost sales which will in turn reduce profits even further as Valve takes a 30% cut from all sales done on Steam.