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There's a new sheriff in town: Valve updates its Steam Early Access rules and guidelines

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There's a new sheriff in town: Valve updates its Steam Early Access rules and guidelines

Steam’s Early Access program has been inundating the platform with in-development games for a year and a half now, and it’s become the Wild West. Games with “borrowed" assets, false advertising, forum drama, and titles that never get finished - it’s become increasingly hard to judge whether or not a game is worth investing in. It’s why we do Early Access reviews now. 

Up until now, Valve’s been completely hands-off. Besides taking down games that use assets the developers have just lifted or make false claims, Valve’s presence hasn’t really been felt at all. That was until now. The sheriff's badge has been dusted off, and a new set of rules and guidelines have appeared. 

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The Foreseer's Contract Dota 2 update sets the stage for a new hero: the Oracle

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The Foreseer's Contract Dota 2 update sets the stage for a new hero: the Oracle

A new update is on the horizon for Dota 2, and while it doesn’t promise anything concrete yet, it’s left some pretty damning evidence of a new hero coming to the game. The Oracle is a brand new hero to Dota 2; being not from the original hero roster used back in the original Warcraft III mod.

Also hinted was the new Phantom Assassin Arcana, that was voted for by the community at this year’s Dota 2 International.

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Our Spotlight units plug content our journalists have made, that our advertisers want to promote. Sometimes the promotion is paid for, but the content they go to is always independent with no client oversight or approval.

Nordic Games extricate Red Faction: Guerrilla from Games for Windows Live

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Nordic Games extricate Red Faction: Guerrilla from Games for Windows Live

Red Faction: Guerrilla is part of Volition’s family of dizzyingly destructive open worlds, and remembered as one of the best sandbox games on PC - not least because there hasn’t been a decent Red Faction game since.

In recognition of that status, new series owners Nordic Games have ripped the game from the decaying architecture of Games for Windows Live and reinstalled Guerrilla’s systems in Steamworks.

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Ubisoft’s new games aren't available on Steam in the UK. "UK customers wishing to purchase the game digitally can do so by visiting the Uplay store..."

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Ubisoft’s new games aren't available on Steam in the UK. "UK customers wishing to purchase the game digitally can do so by visiting the Uplay store..."

The Crew. Far Cry 4. Assassin’s Creed Unity. Ubisoft’s three-pronged Christmas assault will be happening everywhere but on Steam’s UK store. 

Steam versions of all three games are missing from the publisher’s UK listings for November and December, when they’ll be available to buy in shops.

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The best of the Steam Halloween Sale

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The best of the Steam Halloween Sale

If you’ve nearly emptied your bank account to pay for the materials required to make your completely authentic xenomorph costume for Halloween, but still fancy grabbing some appropriately themed games, then not to worry - Valve has you covered. 

And by has you covered, I mean that Valve wants to bleed that bank account dry with the Steam Halloween Sale. Lock up that wallet.

With 21 pages of discounted sales, I’m not going to be listing them all, but I've found a few choice spooky games to keep you feeling uneasy this Halloween. And they’re dead cheap. 

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Go Beyond Earth for 100 turns with the new Civ's Steam demo

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Go Beyond Earth for 100 turns with the new Civ's Steam demo

Firaxis might have gone Beyond Earth, but they’re still in orbit of old-fashioned Civilization. Like Sid Meier's opus, this space-based spin-off offers a series of hard choices - about treaties, base construction, and the nature of first contact.

The devs have decided to make the first decision a little easier, however. You now have the option to download a Steam demo before deciding if the new Civ is for you.

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Watch the Dota 2 Starladder Season X finals kick off right now; winner takes home over $100,000

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Watch the Dota 2 Starladder Season X finals kick off right now; winner takes home over $100,000

The culmination of Starladder Season X is kicking off in just a few minutes, as Dota 2 teams Team Secret and Evil Geniuses face off in an epic best of five. Team Secret are already have a one game advantage by coming from the winners bracket; they’ve only lost one game in the entire tournament. Evil Geniuses on the other hand lost to them in the winner brackets final, but manage to crawl up the losers bracket to have a chance at revenge.

Now sit back, belly full from that delicious Sunday meal, and prepare for an evening of Dota 2 at its finest.

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Dota 2 players outnumbered all 99 other games on Steam's most-played list put together today

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Dota 2 players outnumbered all 99 other games on Steam's most-played list put together today

Press releases eventually slide out of inboxes; promo deals come and go. But Steam’s stat page is forever - a slowly-shifting stone tablet of absolute truths. 

Dota 2 has sat undisturbed at its topmost peak for many months now, but this morning the MOBA claimed another quiet victory. If you’d totted up the total player numbers for every other Steam game on the top 100 most-played list, they still wouldn’t have matched Dota’s concurrent roster of heroes.

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Paranautical Activity developer steps down after threatening Gabe Newell

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Paranautical Activity developer steps down after threatening Gabe Newell

Death threats are a pretty terrible way to blow off some steam, especially during a time when people are being chased out of the industry by them. But with Code Avarice’s Mike Maulbeck, who threatened Gabe Newell after his game, Paranautical Activity, was mislabeled as Early Access on Steam, the inverse has happened. 

Maulbeck’s outburst led to Paranautical Activity being removed from Steam, and in an apology written on the Code Avarice blog, the developer explains that he’s stepped down and will no longer have anything to do with either the game or the company. 

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Steam's got 10 free games waiting to swallow up your weekend

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Steam's got 10 free games waiting to swallow up your weekend

If you are planning a weekend in, trapped in your home with nothing to do, only the glow of your PC monitor to keep you company, then Steam might have you covered. Covered in free games

From now until 1pm PST on Sunday, 10 games in Steam’s gargantuan library are completely free. If you want to play them afterwards, though, you’ll need to dip into your wallet.

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Payday: The Heist will be free on Steam for 24 hours this Thursday

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Payday: The Heist will be free on Steam for 24 hours this Thursday

If a heist takes you 24 hours, you’re doing it wrong. Bank-robbing’s best done in under 24 minutes - in and out before Bob Security’s looked up from his coffee.

Payday, however, is all about doing it wrong - setting off all the alarms and refilling the vaults with piled-high policemen. Overkill have made the game that made their name free for a day - so that you can spend all of Thursday night playing out the best 10 minutes of Heat.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive update adds Music Kits to help "establish your identity"

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive update adds Music Kits to help "establish your identity"

The latest update to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has brought in an interesting addition: Music Kits. These digital MP3 players replace the ambient music in different parts of the game, from in the main menu all the way to planting the bomb. There’s nine unique kits available on the store today from a variety of artists and composers, all tailor made for CS:GO.

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Australian consumer rights regulator sues Valve over Steam refund policy

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Australian consumer rights regulator sues Valve over Steam refund policy

Valve’s refund policy is easily summarised: they don’t do ‘em. And while they have been known to reach into their own pockets to recompense, for instance, Earth: Year 2066 players, the blanket ban has often rubbed consumer watchdogs the wrong way - so that all their watchdoghair stands on end.

Enter the Australian Competition and Consumer Authority, who last week began proceedings in the country’s federal court against Valve. They allege that Valve have made “false or misleading representations" to their Australian customers.

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Steam Curators now have to tell us if they were paid to recommend a game

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Steam Curators now have to tell us if they were paid to recommend a game

Steam Curators are part of Valve’s plan to help players sift through the gazillion PC games on their service - individuals or groups who’ll recommend games to appear on your front page.

The idea has already yielded results - allow me to surreptitiously slide a link to the PCGamesN Curator page across the desk between us - but early critics worried that the curation system was open to exploitation by unscrupulous developers. That a Curator’s critical judgement might be informed by, say, a crisp £50 note faxed through to their study.

Valve have wised up to that possibility, and now require Curators to disclose conflicts of interest in their recommendations.

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Crusader Kings 2 is free this weekend on Steam to celebrate 1 million copies sold

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Crusader Kings 2 is free this weekend on Steam to celebrate 1 million copies sold

If you had any plans this weekend, you can forget them: Paradox’s feudal strategy game, Crusader Kings II is free to play this weekend on Steam. I’m sure you’ve heard about the mad stories that come from this game - it oozes with anecdotal potential. If you’re still on the fence about Crusader Kings II, you should probably try it.

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World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review in progress

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

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Yogscast’s Jingle Jam streams for charity all this December

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Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault review

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Winners Announced: We've five World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Collector's Editions to give away.

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Human Orbit is the Sims, but in space

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David Kim and the impossible balancing act of StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

Starcraft II

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Port Review - Assassin's Creed Unity

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Pool Nation FX will be the best pool game on PC

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Why we don’t have an Assassin’s Creed: Unity Review

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The Escapists Early Access review

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The Crew: Everything We Know

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Here's all the spoiled cards coming to Hearthstone's new expansion: Goblins vs Gnomes

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How Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void makes your Protoss fantasies come true

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Decoding Overwatch: Blizzard’s best new game since World of Warcraft

Overwatch

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Blizzard on Overwatch and Team Fortress 2 comparisons:

Overwatch

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Heroes of the Storm's new ranked mode detailed; influenced by Hearthstone

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Diablo III

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Overwatch’s heroes look to mix up MOBA and FPS class sensibilities

Blizzard's new game is Overwatch: a shooter with super heroes; including gorillas

Overwatch

Blizzard's new game is Overwatch: a shooter with super heroes; including gorillas

Starcraft 2's final chapter, Legacy of the Void, is a standalone expansion

Starcraft II

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Hearthstone's next expansion is Goblins vs Gnomes

BlizzCon 2014

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Blizzard announce Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm

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Interview: Dan Marshall on rewiring The Swindle's steampunk AI

The Swindle

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