PC’s #1 Gaming Critic John “TotalBiscuit” Bain recently met with Valve as part of a consulting team invited for face time by Valve (developer of Half Life series, Portal series, and creator of Steam, SteamVR, and more). Some of the topics being revealed by PC Gamers over the recent years and online personalities, such as Jim Sterling and TotalBiscuit, let us know that Steam has a lot of great games being somewhat hidden at times by ‘not-so-great’ games. Valve finally broke silence in the aforementioned meetings and recognized that it does acknowledge the problem, breaks it down into 3 categories, and calls out the essential attack of ‘Fake Games’ that attempt to make a profit from very little actual game development.
Steam Direct is a new system that will look to overhaul Steam Curators, Steam Greenlight, the Steam Queue and the customization of the Steam Store Page in general. In addition to this program, there will be a new set of discovery options as well called Steam Explorers.
Steam Support (Overhauled Recently):
- Two External 3rd Party Companies Answering Steam Support Tickets.
- A Subdivision Within Valve Handles Steam Support Tickets External 3rd Party Companies Can’t Handle.
- Automated Steam Refund System Has Already Been Implemented.
Steam Explorers (In Development):
- Games That Failed To Reach A Certain Level Of Exposure In Their First Weeks.
- Plans to Allow People To Find Hidden Gems.
- Player Data and response to suggested games will be transparently provided and used in graphs and future discovery queue recommendations through Steam.
- Refunds for Steam Explorers program currently does not count against regular Steam Refunds system.
- Multiplayer Lobby Planning, Forums.
Steam Curators (Overhaul Coming):
- Help Players Find Better Games.
- More Ways To Filter Games, Search Using Tags.
- Tailored To The Curator’s Internal Genre Labeling.
- Curator Can Customize Page In Various Ways.
- Showcasing of games within “Collections” of curated games currently on Steam Sale, Top Lists, Genre Lists, and more. Create custom sales recommendations lists, and provide social / information overhauls.
- Users can soon immediately play video from a Curator’s game recommendation or a visual preview if the review is written. All before deciding to leave Steam or not.
- Valve believes more Curators will make Steam’s ‘Fake Games’ problem or ‘Bad Games’ problem go away.
- Curators will now be able to see their influence through lots of information that will soon be available from the Steam Client itself. This will allow Curators to master their craft and carve paths of games for players to try.
Steam Reviews Systems:
The developers and publishers of games on Steam will now be able to give Reviewers direct access to their games without issuing Steam Keys which have become the target of scamming rings online and gray market websites allowing the sale of games online. Steam Curators and the Steam Client itself will now be able to facilitate a secure, safe way for Curators, Reviewers, YouTube’rs, Twitch Streamers, and generally influential fans of a series, genre, or platform in general.
All of these tools in general in addition to the new Steam Curators tools, Steam Explorers program, are part of Valve’s plan to end an overload of bad games on Steam and attack the notion that review key scammers can’t be stopped. The access of games is just one small piece to the entire working puzzle, but will be an important one as it gives incentive for the gamers who make these systems alive and actually work. There are even other curation examples listed such as good versus bad dubs / voice acting, localization support, and more.
Jokes like the Bad Rats infamously horrible game that goes on sale for under a dollar typically every year, and gets gifted to new Steam players as a cruel and unusual punishment – is just a deadly reminder that we have a long way to go before Valve can truly say they’ve cleaned up Steam. As usual though, they are opting to give gamers the tools to customize all of the various Steam pages and providing many ways to discover new games.
With the power handed over to gamers, Valve again remains impartial in their public judgement of bad games unless absolutely necessary. The system upgrades planned intend to allow the gamers to craft the way for good games and clear a path for great ones without Valve themselves ever stepping in.