Valve says it will stop policing content on Steam


#25

Now would be a good time to link a site I found the other day.

https://isthereanydeal.com/

Now, the use of this website is mostly so you can track deals across dozens of different PC platforms (including some that are… less than reputable), but it does have a pretty simple way to sync your steam wishlist without logging into the site through steam. You can then parse that wishlist to find every game on your steam wishlist that is on another site like Humble or GoG or whatever you trust, hit the link, add them to your wishlist, and voila: your steam wishlist loses more and more relevance.

OR you can just import the wishlist onto your IsThereAnyDeal account, still use steam’s discovery mechanics, and have it automatically sync your wishlist onto your ITAD account to see where else you can buy those games.

It’s not a simple switch flip or anything nor is it perfect, but getting my wishlist off of steam is going to be the #1 way of me leaving the Steam storefront for good.


#26

I’m surprised that it wasn’t automated before. Reading this it sounds like they don’t want to put any effort to curate titles anymore and they are just setting up defenses when a problematic game does come up.

Hopefully this changes the power of PC Storefront to other places. Does Humble have a client?

Also curious what people think of how this differs from what Spotify did in stepping back on their polices


#27

I’m honestly amazed that Valve is actually going this far. Surely even the die hard libertarians on staff making the free market arguments in that press release have to know this is going to blow up in their faces right?

I guess that’s the one silver lining I can see in this mess: if backlash is what made them give up on moderation then maybe the mountain they’re about to be buried under will change their minds. If things get anywhere near as bad as we think then it won’t be just places like Waypoint that write about it, it’ll be Forbes wondering why a billion dollar company is doing business with nazis, or parents second guessing if they should let their kid use Steam.

Obviously wishing for pendulum swings isn’t the most sustainable dream, but I’ll take what I can get right now.


#28

I wonder if this debacle can top the amount of cleaning they did when Skyrim got paid mods for like a day or whatever. I can’t imagine that this decision is going to stay where it is when even the “apolitical” part of steam is showing aggressive disapproval. That being said, this whole laissez-faire thing is the one thing they seem loyal to.

It must be frustrating if you’re a employee of theirs who is willing to put the work in, only to see decision-makers do nothing.


#29

I’m actually going to say that this will probably work out fine for valve for a while, just not everyone else. It’s not the solution I want but I honestly believe that most people don’t really care enough about this stuff for it to impact their bottom line. Steam will continue to have a monopoly on PC sales as it still has a massive install base and most people are only hopping on to either use the search function or buy a AAA title that’s plastered on the front page.


#30

I’m not so sure.

Steam could continue to grow, although I do think Steam’s long term growth will involve real discoverability, actually making it so people enjoy using the platform and making it the destination for Discord-style chat, hanging out with friends, and so on while also insulating you from people who you’d rather not encounter - I linked to a good outline of what that means in here. Basically they really need to show you some games you don’t already know about (that you will love) and that way it’s more than just the Amazon equivalent where you go to order the game you already know about. That’s how the platform grows faster than gaming as a whole, by growing player engagement with gaming. Why play on consoles when Steam can show you this game you’d never heard of but you now love and only cost $10-20…

…plus (if they actually fixed things) a really smart social system grown around those games that actually turns Steam community into a community you’re not extremely afraid to even look at. Tumblr shows me all the Life is Strange fan art (via curated listing/reblogging, some moderation, and just a bit of luck in community attraction) without most of the questionable or objectionable stuff that I might bump into going onto the Steam community pages - clearly that’s something where Steam should be the best place to go for game-related stuff and yet the service both attracts the worst people and lacks the tools to effectively filter, moderate, and create positive community pockets inside the wider platform (that are insulated from bad actors and content the community collective doesn’t want to engage with).

But, and it’s a big but, even if they grow with this new policy (which will increase the hate speech on the store - that’s a stated aim of the policy, to increase the volume of “stuff you hate” on the store) and without actually fixing their community issues, then they build a breeding ground for scandals.

Valve isn’t a public company so the business journalists (ie not Fox News or anyone looking to just stir up trouble but people who supposedly only care about the money stuff) writing about what is going on with this store full of just the worst media can’t hurt stock value but it can make the company a pariah (as @Atlas notes above). Somewhere you do not include on your CV as part of your employment highlights. That’s a problem. They’re already restricted to only getting engineers who can work in a dysfunctional flat hierarchy (as we see from many who join and quickly depart), maybe deciding to change it up from working under a dysfunctional taller hierarchy. Plenty hate the various stack-rank style things going on (even if some enjoy the way it can boost remuneration, especially if you’re doing well in the office politics and so get lots of people voting up your share of the profits as bonus that quarter) so it’s already really whittling down the candidates. That “I’m not going to highlight this on my CV if I leave in 2 years” thing, or even listing some small side-work you did to totally mask your employment, really can remove a lot of top candidates that Valve would expect to be there and keeping things rolling.


#31

Something just occurred to me. This Steam mess, if they go through with it, might unfold similarly to the loot box fiasco:

  • Shitty business practice is criticized for years by the minority while most people ignore or belittle it (you don’t have to buy it / grow a thicker skin)

  • Tension builds under the surface long enough for people to build solid, educated arguments and solutions

  • One major fuck up forces everyone to finally pay attention which also puts the spotlight on other companies who weren’t quite as brazen

  • If things get loud enough then people outside the industry start to take notice, possibly in reductive ways that ignore the context and history specific to the problem

I’m probably overthinking this but thought the similarities were worth mentioning. I can easily imagine a parent, in the same way they were told what a loot box was, learning for the first time that Steam isn’t just a store that’s bound by the same restrictions a brick and mortar store is and that, as much as other sites deny it, the problem is just as widespread on other social media platforms.

As I was writing this I was worried that I was making too big a deal about what could happen as a result of Valve’s decision until I read their statement again. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the largest pseudo-monopoly in pc games retailers really did just open the flood gates for everything short of a literal crime.


#32

I want to offer a small counterpoint. As JackLeveledUp has already said, the goal of buying from a company other than Steam doesn’t have to be hurt Steam. Because, as you said, that’s not going to be effective. But a goal that will work is help Steam’s competition.

It’s not about taking down the bad guy and propping up a good guy. It’s about having two (or more!) viable companies that everyone knows about and chooses between. Buying an X-Box instead of a PlayStation doesn’t hurt Sony. But it does help Microsoft. I would like to live in a world where we have that level of competition in the PC game storefront. I don’t think we’re there right now.


#33

I don’t believe I can really get into my strongest feelings of disappointment about this without getting into Rule 10 territory regarding the acquisition of Campo Santo, but this is definitely the final straw that will make me not buy anymore games from Steam. Time to download that itch.io app!


#34

You don’t have to abandon your library. Keeping games in your Steam library doesn’t provide them any money. Only buying from their storefront. When you buy a Steam key from Humble, Steam makes zero profit.

Obviously, if you want to truly break from Steam, you would probably want to start storing your games somewhere else, but you don’t have to give up on the old ones. You just have to deal with the hassle of remembering which client has which game.

That’s the thing about monopolies. Knowing that everything is in one place and I don’t have to worry about looking elsewhere is awfully convenient.


#35

Some folks are responding to this news by deciding to move more of their business to itch.io and GOG, but I’m not sure how much better those shops actually are. itch.io’s existing content policy looks more or less identical to Valve’s new one: “There are no restrictions for the kind of content you can host on itch.io (assuming it’s legal).” [Edit: This policy is listed under an FAQ entry about adult content.] GOG obviously has a much heavier curatorial hand than other game shops, but some of their decisions have me questioning their judgement, like how their forums hosted an extremely active GamerGate thread for years, or the time they featured a free giveaway of this anti-feminist bad trip of a game.

Supporting competitors to Steam is a good idea for a lot of reasons, but if you’re hoping for a store that applies progressive values to its game selection, I don’t think that exists.


#36

@GibdoInferno, Thank you for saying that other sites are also suspect :+1::sparkles: !

Honestly, I was getting a little worried with all the other talk on here about folks so readily jumping ship before checking the competition :grimacing: .


#37

Gonna put on my tinfoil hat here … I think Valve might turn into a breeding ground for scams at this rate?

I mean -… I ain’t about to go grab popcorn to watch how Valve’ll possibly crash and burn (bc that’ll probably mean we’re losing all our games we’ve bought previously), but I bet y’all they’ll get into some serious hot water down the road, because they basically opened the flood gates to let in a bunch of bad actors. That is, if I’m reading this correctly :face_with_monocle:.

Man, I agree with what some of y’all were saying that there must be a buncha libertarians in with Steam. because shit mang :grimacing:. Is there a Waypoint curator on Steam? I think this might be the time to follow them…


#39

I wonder if Steam’s plan is to raise the profile/tools of curators, so that we can view the store through the lens of what we consider to be good signal to noise.

It could work. They avoid the legal + logistical hell of content creation, make money, and users can filter the store down to their preferred filtering agency.

But really, it seems pretty lazy to abandon what seems like their responsibility as a digital retailer to vet the product they sell. Abdicating this responsibility is a good way to tarnish what still is a pretty good brand.


#40

Given itch.io’s current size and general attitude surrounding it’s community I am much more likely to believe that if push came to shove they would put their foot down about specific content instead of risking the majority of their userbase turning on them then Steam ever would.

Their response about “anything goes” was in regards to adult content as well. I suspect that if someone tried to sell a modern day Custer’s Revenge on their store they would pull it.


#41

That seems to be their policy, yeah:


#42

I am startled to discover they ever started.


#43

Oh crap, I didn’t want to mislead anyone! I quoted that policy because it seemed to apply generally, and I couldn’t find any other content policy in their creator docs. A note about context has been added.

The people running itch.io seem to have good intentions, and I have way more faith in them than Valve to do the right thing when a crisis forces them to set boundaries. I also hope that they take this opportunity to set those boundaries proactively and explicitly.


#44

I almost bought a game on GOG a couple days ago until I saw that their top recommended curator was a GG-style Feminist Fequency parody and immediately closed the tab.


#45

I very much want to join in on the Steam boycott sentiment, but If I’m being entirely honest with myself I don’t see it happening any time soon. The main thing Steam has that keeps me around is their lax and surprisingly efficient refund process. I’ve never had a single issue getting a fast refund on a game that didn’t run properly or that just wasn’t for me. For someone on a budget, and since certain FPS games make me sick and cause headaches that I won’t know about until I play it, this sort of thing is completely invaluable.

I want so badly for there to be more competition or for Valve to just give a fuck for five seconds about how much of a mess their service is in a lot of regards but it’s hard not to be cynical given how garbage Valve’s track record has been for so long now and how they just make worse and worse decisions every time they decide on some sort of policy change.