It looks like Valve is finally looking to crack down on ‘asset flippers’ and address concerns regarding the quality of games flooding the Steam store on a daily basis. Similarly to how Valve decided to get more involved with the press earlier this year, Valve has also begun consulting with two popular game critics, TotalBiscuit and Jim Sterling, who have both had their fair share of grievances with poor developers publishing on Steam.
After a meeting last Friday, both TotalBiscuit and Jim Sterling have published videos online going over their meeting with Valve’s Steam platform team. While there, they had the opportunity to hear Valve’s stance on ‘fake games’ and exchange ideas on how to deal with the matter. These changes won’t all appear right away but it seems that a key part of Valve’s plan is to kill off asset flippers by making their business model completely unprofitable on Steam.
For those who don’t know ‘asset flips’ or fake games as Valve likes to put it, are poorly stitched together games created solely out of assets found on the Unity Engine store. Developers will create a ton of these games, dump them all on to Steam and then earn their profit from the sale of trading cards.
Valve wants to try and stop this business practise by burying fake games under its new algorithms while also potentially introducing restrictions to trading cards. However, as with any automated system, there is also the possibility that legitimately good games will still go undiscovered by the masses, so to help combat this, Valve is currently mulling over the idea of a ‘Steam Explorers’ program.
Under this opt-in initiative, dedicated Steam users will be able to go through a list of games that haven’t been selling too well. They will have to buy that game, check it out and help figure out whether or not it should receive a boost in the discoverability queue. The fact that explorers still have to buy games for evaluation could hurt interest so Valve is also looking at ways it can make the program more attractive, whether it be via Steam badges/community rewards, or with a ‘no strings attached’ refund once a week. Explorers will also get access to their own forum.
Finally, there are some changes currently being talked about for the Steam Curators feature. These will include the ability to embed videos into curation lists, while also giving curators information, such as how their recommendation impacted a game’s sales. Finally, at some point, developers may be able to use the curator function to supply review copies of games.
Right now, all of these ideas are still in the early stages at Valve, so don’t expect any immediate changes. Still, it is encouraging to see Valve finally opening up about its inner-workings this year and actively consulting with others to exchange ideas and improve Steam overall.
KitGuru Says: I must admit, I’ve been very impressed with Valve’s efforts to stay in touch with the community so far this year. Hopefully this new found transparency sticks around as it seems things are heading in a much better direction.