Valve says it will stop policing content on Steam


#1

Ugh, this makes me nervous for the type of games we are going to see. What do you all think?


#2

I mean, that’s what they’ve been doing so far anyway. So it’ll be the same garbage as always, really.


#3

oofa doofa this sure is a choice

It feels like this natural end result of this slide they’ve had going for a while but that they’re doubling down on this is kinda worrying. Like, that this is the direction instead of clear guidelines and actual standards.


#4

You know, just the other day I was wondering what a Newgrounds for the modern times would look like. Guess I’m about to find out.


#5

Can we just get a lightweight Steam client that only shows my library and a search bar to buy stuff from the store? I really have never had a desire to engage with that “community”.


#6

I could barely finish reading Valve’s statement. You could say I’m…uhhh…steaming…

They make this implication that all “offense” is created equal, and therefore basically nothing should be restricted??? That would be laughable if not for the disgusting, bigoted, and harmful games we’re going to (continue to) see pop up on Steam as a result. The dominating moral stance at Valve seems to be that freedom to say anything is more important than preventing the damage that might result from that speech. And ONE LOOK at history anywhere in the world will tell you: that reasoning is ridiculous.

Friendly reminder: just about every game that people would conventionally buy from Steam is also available through Humble, where you can choose to donate a portion of your purchase to the SPLC, your local chapter of the ACLU, Internet Archive, charity: water, Wikimedia, so on and so forth. There’s also Itch.io, which is an incredible community with great curation. The folks running the platform also consistently feature / promote games created by all kinds of marginalized people. I’m sure most people reading Waypoint are familiar with both, but shoutouts to them!


#7

Because we can’t get the fascist, queerphobic, Leftist, or libertarian engineers at Valve to agree upon which stuff we let onto the store, we’ve decided to let everything on (just pretend we didn’t just write “the libertarians won our internal debates” because that sounds less neutral than we’re going for). Unless someone can abuse our definition of ‘trolling’ to get something cut or it’s illegal for us to sell it. Oh, we also can’t work out what illegal content even is. You’d think that part of taking a 30% cut of every sale would be to become experts in what is and isn’t illegal to sell, what with that being our job.

Hey, you notice how we took a brewing question about why we revoked the earlier (manually approved) store listing for some queer anime-style games and turned it into a blog post all about how we’re going to allow all forms of hate speech on our platform? I’m sure no one will notice how this basically is drawing an equivalence between queer media and propaganda promoting genocide (as if they need to be treated the same way).


#8

The fact that most of the comments are more concerned about asset flips than any other toxic implications of this policy really shows where that community’s priorities lie.


#9

I don’t think Valve realizes just how much influence their storefront has on the kind of games that are made and popularized. Like, Steam’s top selling category is usually the first place I discover trending games like Raft or House Flipper. I don’t follow “influencers” and traditional games media is usually slower on those games, so I pick up on that stuff through them. They are as complicit to those games’ success as anyone else. And now they’re doubling-down on the same tactic that gets a game like Gay World the same store page and rating as any other “mixed” reviewed game. God.


#10

How does a company see Twitter’s approach to policing and go “well it works for them, I guess”.


#11

Unlike Twitter, Valve can look at its gigantic pile of incoming money and shrug.


#12

Had not previously seen this thesis doing the rounds. Looks like it could be some good additional reading on Valve’s digital platform:


#13

just wondering, cuz i’ve been looking for an alternative to Steam, do you know if the games you buy on Humble that give Steam codes still end up giving money to Valve? like, i copped the XCOM:EW DLC through there on sale, and it gave it to me via a code. am i misunderstanding something, or wouldn’t that still be paying them in some way?


#14

Steam keys are meant to be a convenient tool for game developers to sell their game on other stores and at retail. Steam keys are free and can be activated by customers on Steam to grant a license to a product.

Valve provides the same free bandwidth and services to customers activating a Steam key that it provides to customers buying a license on Steam. We ask you to treat Steam customers no worse than customers buying Steam keys outside of Steam. While there is no fee to generate keys on Steam, we ask that partners use the service judiciously.

SteamWorks public documentation.


#15

i’ve been seeing a lot of discourse on twitter on this, and the way a lot of people talk about this (especially the pro-consumer types, who are kind of notorious for never completely comprehending their own solutions) makes me think nobody actually knows how valve itself works and that they just arbitrarily go down this path because that’s what they wanted to do, so just so we’re all clear, a quick rundown:

  • valve has around 300-350 employees total working on everything. only a tiny portion of them actually work on steam store infrastructure, because valve’s company structure is really weird, but otherwise, that’s 300-350 people who could work on steam at any moment.
  • valve has always hovered around this number of employees for years–long before steam started getting unreasonably massive.
  • this is because gabe newell (who, being the CEO, is basically the only person who has real push in this company) really likes services that scale without having to do anything.
  • …which, when put into practice, actually just means that if you can pay 300 people to get yourself a barely-functional service that makes you billions, that’s better than paying more people for a fully-functional service that makes you less.

this is an important bit, because people keep talking like voting with your wallet will actually accomplish anything. folks, valve’s profits have increased tenfold in the past couple of years alone, and all the while they’re still paying the same amount of employees the same amount of wages. you can devise a mass exodus that takes away a third of their revenue, they’re still going to be deep in the green.

none of this was unintentional. none of this was an accident. this was always the end-game for valve; by building a service that can still function enough to be used, regardless of size, while still being held together by the same amount of people, and then having that service have a monopoly on all of PC gaming, they’ve guaranteed that the company has a safety net freeing them from any negative outcome, that nothing short of valve’s employees unionizing will ever come close to cracking.


#16

I would be shocked if this doesn’t exist. It should be fairly straightforward seeing as the Steam client itself is essentially just a web browser making various calls using their protocol.

Edit: As an example lets say I wanted to run Portal. As long as Steam is already up and running you can do start steam://run/400 from powershell/cmd and it will open it up.


#17

Everything you said is absolutely true, although I do want to defend the idea that our choice of storefront matters. For one, that’s…sorta the only viable choice we consumers have? I don’t think most people boycott with the belief that they will be able to erase the problem - to me, at least, it’s about making a statement and removing myself from the (soul-crushingly massive) network that supports them.

Most importantly, though, supporting platforms like Itch and Humble is beneficial for reasons other than simply not supporting Steam. For example: if buying a game on Humble allows me to, in some small way, push back against oppression in my local community while doing something I was going to do anyway…that’s a really good thing!


#18

I’m going to keep making a point of not spending any money that will end up in the hands of Valve until they start doing something. Anything.

Curate the store front.
Fight review bombing.
Get rid of Nazis or bigots.
Push for positive changes for developers. (Or players.)
Make games.
Improve the service.
Take responsibility for anything any other store should.
Push legislation with their infinite money.
Grow a spine.
Publish games, or grants.
Education, or tools development.
Stop removing queer content, while defending school shooting games.

Anything. It’s a low bar.

They take 30% for what? 30%? Thirty. For exposure? Which, while not even true anymore, should have been a gross joke about labor exploitation in the first place?


#19

Some top meme action:


#20

And, unfortunately, because everyone has so heavily bought into Steam by now anyway, in order to abandon Steam in favor of another market you’d have to basically write off your library of (potentially) hundreds or thousands of dollars of games.

Short of legislation, litigation, or a horde of customers deciding that they’ve effectively set thousands of dollars/Euros/whatever on fire and abandoning their library, I don’t know how we can get Valve to change. However, with even alternate vendors (like Humble) using Steam Keys to sell games, and with the current state of the US government and legal system, I don’t see any significant change coming for at least a couple years.

EDIT: The only way I could see Steam changing this again would be if something goes up on Steam that ends up leading to Gabe Newell getting called before Congress to testify - and if past results are representative on future performance, something like that happening would more likely cause Valve to push to far into the other direction again, and unfortunately, I see the pendulum swinging wider and wider here.