Valve has been a vitally important part of PC gaming since it launched Steam more than a decade ago, but that’s not say its digital storefront and other ventures aren’t without their problems.
These are five issues we hope Valve tackle in 2018.
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It’s become increasingly difficult for players to discover new games on Steam, simply because there are so many released each day. This is a problem for developers, also, because it can mean a game they’ve poured years of work into disappears from the front page within hours, driven out by other new releases.
To put this in perspective, in October, Steam was on track to have more than 6,000 new releases in 2017. That’s an average of more than 16 new games released every day.
Valve have ways to highlight games you might be interested in, tailoring the front page and discovery page to your interests based on games you’ve previously bought. However, this has its own problem: it creates a bubble. If you buy a few strategy games it doesn’t mean you only want to play strategy games, but that is predominantly what Steam will now show you.
This isn’t an easy problem to solve, it may well not have a perfect solution, but the significant increase in games released on Steam in the past year alone means that it’s something Valve should address in the new year.
We’re increasingly frequently seeing people abuse Steam’s review system to try and send a message to developers. What that message is can vary wildly, negative reviews have been used to tell developers players don’t agree with their politics, that players would like a Chinese translation of the game, that players don’t think the game they bought reflects what they were sold.
Valve recognises the problem and introduced a system this yearthat lets you see the longtail history of a game’s rating so you can see if there is a sharp negative trend, suggesting it has been review bombed. However, this doesn’t stop the game from appearing to have a negative review when you’re scanning through Steam, which, as pointed out above, is becoming increasingly the only way to digest all the games coming to Steam.
Fringe discussion groups
When it comes to Steam Curation groups there appears to be little in the way of moderation from Valve. A report by Motherboardearlier this year showed how there were many far-right, homophobic, and racist community groups on Steam, some of which were even promoted to the front page for all to see:
(CW: Homophobia) Oh COOL, Valve's promoting slurs on the front page of Steam now. pic.twitter.com/kd5RLk810r
— Joe Parlockin' Around the Christmas Tree (@joeparlock) October 17, 2017
Steam is used by tens of millions of people every day. Clearly moderating all of their interactions is a mammoth task, but it is surprising that Valve aren’t checking for homophobic slurs in the names of curator groups.
There is potential for this to only become a greater problem for Steam in 2018 without a stricter form of moderation coming into play.
Earlier this year Valve’s founder Gabe Newell said people not being paid for mods was a “bug in the system” https://www.pcgamesn.com/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-special-edition/skyrim-paid-mods, so it’s clearly an issue on his mind. We didn’t see any movement from Valve on the paid mods front in 2017, so it may well be something we see returned to in 2018. We already know that Bethesda are working on their own system with Creation Club.
Valve has a problem with starting projects and then seemingly losing interest in them – SteamOS, Steam Machines, and Steam VR. Despite being behind one of the few premium virtual reality headsets that have gone to market they have done little to support the Vive with software. Earlier this year Valve said they were working on three games for the devicebut they’ve said nothing about what those games are or when people can expect them. That does little to attract people to picking up a very expensive hardware package.
Hopefully next year will see them start talking about these games in greater detail.