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Steam Discovery Changes Will "Fight Fake Games"

TotalBiscuit and The Jimquisition recently visited Valve to share thoughts with on Steam issues. Valve is continuing with their efforts to improve discovery and to stomp out what they call "fake games." They are looking to rely even more on community efforts to shape up the marketplace, planning a new layer of influencers called Steam Explorers. Kotaku has a summary of points made in case you don't want to sit through the videos, though this means you will miss out on TB's auction calling and Jim's der Führer impression. Here are some of the things they highlight:

  • Valve is about to overhaul Steam in order to ensure that good games are visible and lazily developed games created for the purpose of making a quick buck—which Valve apparently calls “fake games”—sink beneath a sea of algorithms. They’ve already laid the groundwork, which is why they recently announced Steam Direct.
  • The problem with this system, of course, is that it risks burying a handful of good games, as well. To combat this issue, Valve is going to introduce a program called Steam Explorers. Explorers will play through queues of games that haven’t been selling super well. If they dig a game, they can flag it. The more games get flagged, the more the algorithmic gods will smile upon them.
  • Anybody will be able to be an Explorer, much like Steam Curators. They’ll also get their own forum, so they can do things like arrange multiplayer matches in games that nobody else is playing.
  • Speaking of Curators, that system is getting overhauled too. Valve will be adding functionality like embedded videos, top ten lists, and different types of sorting. Developers will also be able to give game keys directly to curators within Steam, as opposed to doing so via email or other means outside Steam (which has led to confusion, attempted fraud, and other issues).
  • Curators will also be given more info about how their curations affect games’ sales, and Valve is considering ways to incentivize Curators to keep at it. Payment might even be an option.
  • Valve admitted that so-called “fake games” make the bulk of their money off Steam trading cards, something that’s been long theorized but never confirmed. As a result, Valve will be changing the trading card system so that doing so is no longer an option.

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35 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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35. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 7, 2017, 11:56 Orogogus
 
JohnQP wrote on Apr 7, 2017, 01:29:
Yes but why would that deter a studio from offering a game on another service that charges only a cut?

Only a cut? I mean, as far as I know Steam only charges a cut, it's just that that cut is 30%. You mean a smaller cut?

But as far as I can see nothing stops studios from offering games on other services. There are lots of games on GOG, the Humble Store, itch.io and even a handful of non-EA games on Origin. What stops studios from jumping ship, abandoning Steam while going to a competing service, is that all evidence suggests Steam has a larger user base and a lot of those people won't buy games from other services. Getting 95% of the money from 1000 users would be less than 70% from 100000 users.
 
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34. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 7, 2017, 01:29 JohnQP
 
Yes but why would that deter a studio from offering a game on another service that charges only a cut?  
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33. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 6, 2017, 13:09 Orogogus
 
JohnQP wrote on Apr 6, 2017, 08:01:
It seems obvious to me that a big part of what makes Steam and iTunes pre-eminent is that they got there first and got enough companies and users sufficiently invested that there's inertia on both sides against simply jumping ship to any competing service.

Why would one need to "jump ship" to use a different service?

As you can see whenever there's an Origin or UPlay related thread and even some of the GOG ones, people don't like having their libraries spread over multiple services, each with its own login. Steam at least lets you set up shortcuts for non-Steam games, but I don't think other services do. If you want to sort your library by size to see what to delete, that's that much more of a hassle if you have to do it for several different services. For multiplayer games your friends lists are tied to each account, and there might not be cross-play between services. Maybe people care about achievements and where they show up?

In the case of iTunes it's even clearer, since I think iTunes is the music player and your playlist runs off of iTunes. If you want to switch to a different ecosystem you'll have to convert your entire library unless you don't mind having to switch players to get to different songs.
 
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32. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 6, 2017, 08:01 JohnQP
 
It seems obvious to me that a big part of what makes Steam and iTunes pre-eminent is that they got there first and got enough companies and users sufficiently invested that there's inertia on both sides against simply jumping ship to any competing service.

Why would one need to "jump ship" to use a different service?
 
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31. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 22:06 Orogogus
 
Margins shrink on the production side, not distribution. I'm trying to think of where margins have shrunk on distribution, either digital or physical, and examples don't really come to mind.

My points are 1) you haven't shown why 30% is too much, other than it seems like a big number, and 2) "I don't know anything about the details, but I'd guess monopolistic practices (coercing exclusive distro deals) are the only reason Steam has survived this long." was absurd.

It seems obvious to me that a big part of what makes Steam and iTunes pre-eminent is that they got there first and got enough companies and users sufficiently invested that there's inertia on both sides against simply jumping ship to any competing service.
 
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30. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 21:51 JohnQP
 
Believing that

speculation.askdefine.com

speculation
Noun

1 a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence [syn: guess, conjecture, supposition, surmise, surmisal, hypothesis]

You seem to be missing my point, which is that the idea that a digital download service is worth 30% of revenue is nuts. Ergo, it's reasonable to speculate that there's some market distortion going on. In other words, Gabe is raking a Hell of a lot of that cut in as profit, and in the real world, margins tend to shrink to much lower levels, over time. That last bit is not speculation, it's history.

Edit: what is Steam's serious competition? I.e., do they have any competitors threatening to eclipse them? If not, then it's reasonable to speculate that they're making a lot more now, than they will be 10 years from now.
 
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29. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 21:28 Orogogus
 
JohnQP wrote on Apr 5, 2017, 20:43:
Good point, you ask a question I am wont to ask myself, when the roles are reversed. 5 or 10% seems much more reasonable, yes. I have this thing about middlemen...

It's not a useful number to talk about unless you have a point of comparison, or if you know the costs and revenues involved. Not liking middlemen doesn't make 50% or 30% or 5% the right number.

The idea that Valve is coercing exclusive deals seems wildly ridiculous, just completely disconnected from reality.

Speculation about anything has never struck me as completely disconnected from reality (certainly not whether a corp is engaging in profit-maximization).

Gabe Newell engineered the Trump election to drive people to seek solace in video games to escape from reality. That would be pretty disconnected.

Believing that Valve coerces companies into Steam exclusivity requires you to believe that hypothetical Valve salespeople put pressure on a ton of companies, and no one, not even the ones who went with multiple storefronts or even the competitors with tons of money who abandoned Steam entirely, ever said anything about it that made it to print. No one at Valve leaked this practice, while when their competitor in the VR market, Oculus, did this they quickly got a ton of bad press for it.

It requires a lot of conspiracy, and some of the players would have every incentive to stick a dagger in Valve. It's way easier to believe, with a lot of supporting circumstantial evidence, that Steam moves a lot more sales than its competitors, justifying its 30% cut.
 
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28. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 20:43 JohnQP
 
People say this, but what are they comparing to? Just an imaginary world where digital distributors charge 2%, or is there an actual company you have in mind? I understand iTunes also takes 30%, and it seems to do less than Steam. GOG is supposed to be 30%. And when you sell something at retail most consumer goods go through two or three layers of 100% markup.

Good point, you ask a question I am wont to ask myself, when the roles are reversed. 5 or 10% seems much more reasonable, yes. I have this thing about middlemen...

The idea that Valve is coercing exclusive deals seems wildly ridiculous, just completely disconnected from reality.

Speculation about anything has never struck me as completely disconnected from reality (certainly not whether a corp is engaging in profit-maximization).
 
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27. removed Apr 5, 2017, 14:17 Geist
 
* REMOVED *
This comment was deleted on Apr 5, 2017, 17:28.
 
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26. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 13:29 Orogogus
 
JohnQP wrote on Apr 5, 2017, 07:26:
P.S., I do kinda hate Steam; 30% cut for Valve is criminal. I wish some better service would come along and steal all their business. I don't know anything about the details, but I'd guess monopolistic practices (coercing exclusive distro deals) are the only reason Steam has survived this long. Otherwise someone charging far less should have eaten Gabe's lunch a long time ago.

People say this, but what are they comparing to? Just an imaginary world where digital distributors charge 2%, or is there an actual company you have in mind? I understand iTunes also takes 30%, and it seems to do less than Steam. GOG is supposed to be 30%. And when you sell something at retail most consumer goods go through two or three layers of 100% markup.

The Humble Store only takes 5%, according to the Fez guy, so there you go. Buy all your stuff there.

The idea that Valve is coercing exclusive deals seems wildly ridiculous, just completely disconnected from reality. If they did something like that it would be out on the web immediately, like it is when Oculus or Microsoft does something similar. Even the fact that Valve has salespeople would be news.

Just imagine a game announcing that it's only releasing as a Humble Store or itch.io exclusive, and then imagine the forum responses. Look at the posts when a publisher says it's launching its own online sales front. "Monopolistic practices" was really the most likely answer?
 
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25. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 07:47 Bub
 
Comparing what Steam shows me in my que and the front page carousel, its clear they don't give a hoot what my preferences are, since the worthless filters don't allow me to filter out genres I will never buy like anime, soft porn, side scrollers, platformers, Minecraft clones, card based games, MOBAs, and they don't allow me to select genres I like such as sand box games, games that include editors and other content creation tools, games with player created content in the Workshop.

The game requirements also need to be filterable. I like many other casual gamers don't have a super boss liquid cooled gamer rig, and it is useless to put things in my que or try to sell me games that clearly will run at a crawl on your average consumer PC.

They need to put a lid on early access as well, a one year only, then ship or get dropped, no early access with out a free downloadable game with only x% of the content, i.e. like early FPS free versions only had the first 2-3 levels, and you had to buy the game to get the following twenty or so levels.
 
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==================================================
Bubb Stubbley
... I miss BBS..
"There is a sucker born every minute." - PT Barnum
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24. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 07:44 Burrito of Peace
 
Quboid wrote on Apr 4, 2017, 20:32:
You can customise your store front discovery queue to exclude E.A. and some other stuff like VR and videos. It's in your preferences (click on your username, top-right), and for the queue there's a customise option by the "Next" button.

I'd rather these were hidden by default. Early Access has it's place, but IMHO the store-front isn't it.

I did not know this. Thank you very much!
 
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23. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 5, 2017, 07:26 JohnQP
 
"I used to hate Jim Sterling - back when he basically called PC gamers entitled, whiny pirates (okay, admittedly many are...)"

I suppose it all depends on context. I am a pirate, but not a whiny or entitled one. I'm fine with waiting months for a game to be cracked. Even if a game is never cracked, I'm not going to make a big stink about it. I don't whine about Denuvo; if anything, I think it's good that games get to have a bit of room to maneuver before the pirates are all over it. That's good for PC gaming. Devs have got to make a living, right?

On the other hand, I don't hesitate to point out that piracy is copyright violation, not theft. Theft involves taking something from someone, and them not having it anymore. I.e., it involves a real loss, not a hypothetical theoretical speculative one. In my case, they've never lost out, because if I can't pirate a game, I won't buy it. And the only games I do buy are games that I enjoyed enough to play a lot (via piracy), which are few and far between.

And like I said, context matters. I don't think it's whiny or entitled to criticize a shitty game I pirated. A shitty game is a shitty game, ad hominem fallacies aren't going to save it. If anything, I'm providing a service to the gaming community by getting the word out, helping shitty games to fail, and good games to succeed.

P.S., I do kinda hate Steam; 30% cut for Valve is criminal. I wish some better service would come along and steal all their business. I don't know anything about the details, but I'd guess monopolistic practices (coercing exclusive distro deals) are the only reason Steam has survived this long. Otherwise someone charging far less should have eaten Gabe's lunch a long time ago.
 
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22. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 4, 2017, 20:32 Quboid
 
Burrito of Peace wrote on Apr 4, 2017, 13:40:
Steam has gotten to the point where I am thinking of keeping my current library but no longer purchasing games through them. As someone else mentioned, the "Discovery" queue system is a joke, often filled with crapware and "Early Access" titles. What is likewise "Recommended" to me rarely fits my interest. I think I'll probably switch to GOG since they have a more generous refund policy, tighter rules, and I don't always have to be connected to play my games or fiddle with a client.

Another old man.

You can customise your store front discovery queue to exclude E.A. and some other stuff like VR and videos. It's in your preferences (click on your username, top-right), and for the queue there's a customise option by the "Next" button.

I'd rather these were hidden by default. Early Access has it's place, but IMHO the store-front isn't it.
 
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"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
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21. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 4, 2017, 19:56 HorrorScope
 
Giving us a greater control to filter out content vs 3 genres/subgenres max... is too damn low!

The recommended needs to be further down the page if it doesn't improve a lot.

New fair+ quality games should be at the top, that is what I'm looking for.
 
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20. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 4, 2017, 18:02 Creston
 
They are looking to rely even more on community efforts to shape up the marketplace

Of course they are. Rolleyes Anything that gets them out of doing actual fucking WORK themselves.

Soon Steam will announce the awesome "Self-Support Portal!" where you can go to fix your own problem!
 
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19. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 4, 2017, 14:47 Prez
 
Rhett wrote on Apr 4, 2017, 13:44:
Definitely a lot of garbage on steam.. a lot of stuff I'd rather never, ever see on there (movies, novels, erotic novels/shitty ero games), but I guess those are considered "legit" compared to this.

If only Origin and Uplay didn't suck complete ass. Even if they didn't, Steam does everything better... blargh.

The strange thing is that those anime graphic novels (boobies!) sell like hotcakes based on reports I've heard about, so if I ran Steam I'd have them on there too.

And as far as alternative platforms to Steam go, while Uplay is still inferior in every way, Origin is quite good. It has infinitely better customer service than Steam and its return policy is more generous than Valve's. The download speeds are decent, and it has a really good subscription program called EA Access that gives you access to a ton of great games for a very fair monthly fee. The worst thing about Origin, to be honest, is that it is owned by EA. It's hard to just overlook the shit they have pulled over the years and still do, but that is the biggest drawback the way I see it. I prefer Steam for that reason alone.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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18. Re: Endless Space 2 Announced Apr 4, 2017, 14:12 jacobvandy
 
Bitterbug wrote on Apr 4, 2017, 11:19:
I wondered what the point of the obvious fake/troll games were. Stuff nobody in their right mind would even pay a dollar for. But then how do you get someone to buy the cards for something like that?

Cards lead to profile backgrounds and emotes when you craft the badges. All you have to do is come up with a popular emote, like bacon or cookie or heart (just a few examples I can think of), which will be in high demand on the Marketplace to the tune of several dollars, even $10+ for a single one. The price of the cards go up along with that, which leads to people actually buying the game just to get them if it ends up being cheaper that way. You don't even have to play it, just leave it running for a few hours to get the drops, which then prevents you from refunding it...

It's a whole big thing, lol. There have been many instances of a no-name indie becoming popular just because they were clever in their implementation of cards, so it's not surprising to see that used as a crutch to sell shovelware.
 
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17. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 4, 2017, 13:44 Rhett
 
Definitely a lot of garbage on steam.. a lot of stuff I'd rather never, ever see on there (movies, novels, erotic novels/shitty ero games), but I guess those are considered "legit" compared to this.

If only Origin and Uplay didn't suck complete ass. Even if they didn't, Steam does everything better... blargh.
 
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16. Re: Steam Discovery Changes Will Apr 4, 2017, 13:40 Burrito of Peace
 
Steam has gotten to the point where I am thinking of keeping my current library but no longer purchasing games through them. As someone else mentioned, the "Discovery" queue system is a joke, often filled with crapware and "Early Access" titles. What is likewise "Recommended" to me rarely fits my interest. I think I'll probably switch to GOG since they have a more generous refund policy, tighter rules, and I don't always have to be connected to play my games or fiddle with a client.

Another old man.
 
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