Next Steam update will make it harder to find great PC games
Valve is changing the rules for developers on Steam, which means they can no longer add review notes or rewards to images in their game’s main store.
The new rules will go into effect on September 1, 2022, when games like The Quarry, Hades, and It Takes Two will have to update their images to match the clutter-free images of games like Elden Ring.
Explain your reasoning in a official blog post (opens in a new tab), Valve said the decision was to make finding and buying the best Steam games as “clear and simple as possible”. Review notes and award logos clutter the images, making it difficult for players to get an accurate idea of the game, or even see what it’s called. Valve also claimed that some games were using outdated or inaccurate review scores, adding even more confusion into the mix for customers.
So they go, at least in some images.
The Steam store pages will always have a dedicated space for developers to share their awards and reviews, it will just require a bit of scrolling. Also, the rules don’t seem to affect all of the images on a store’s page – just the game’s banner images or “Capsules”, which are the first photos you see of the game when browsing the store.
If a developer wants to share an update article on how their game was received by critics with a picture full of scores and quotes, that should always be possible.
Also, Steam’s new ban on text won’t affect game logos and won’t prevent developers from highlighting new updates or if the game is on sale, but there is. some new restrictions.
Analysis: Judging games by their caps
As the old saying goes: you can’t judge a book by its cover. But, if there’s a bunch of reviews stuck on it, you’d imagine you’d have a good idea of whether it’s worth your time. But clearly, developers sharing misleading information is a problem, and (as Valve points out) this generally English-only text can isolate players who don’t understand the language. Steam’s changes to the pod images make a lot of sense.
Looking at some of the highlighted awards and accolades, it’s clear that they’re not all of equal value – an image shared by Valve showed games celebrating their award in the “Most likely to win” category. But with a small text on the banner, you can only make out the “Winner” text without approaching your screen.
Yet this latest plan to “purge all texts” does not seem like the best solution.
While major AAA titles from the world’s biggest studios probably won’t need more than corporate clout to stand out, smaller independent studios can struggle. If a gamer has never heard of a game before, or the people who made it, how can their titles expect to be chosen from the sea of games released daily on Steam?
Being able to share review ratings in that first image players see is clearly a good strategy to combat this. Steam store browsers would see that the title is rated well at a glance and therefore would likely be encouraged to click through to the game’s page for more. However, this will no longer be an option.
Instead, Valve could have established rules on what rewards and reviews can be used – perhaps limiting them to certain approved outlets. And to circumvent language barriers, it could also require developers to create localized images for each region they sell their game in – rules they are already introducing for images that want to include sale details.
Steam is already struggling to discover the game, and this latest move feels more like a step back than a step forward. We’ll have to wait and see if Valve decides to reverse the change or come up with a new strategy, but come September 1, prepare for it to get a little harder to find Steam’s hidden gems.
If you’re looking for a new game to play, check out our picks for the best PC games we’ve played.