Steam developers speak:

Steam developers speak: Maximum profits for Valve, minimum responsibilities

Interesting opinion piece on Polygon. Wonder what Crate’s feelings are on the topic?

Very few of those developers were willing to put their names to their criticisms, with one even saying that they were “pissing themselves in fear” about the idea of an off-the-record Discord voice call. Much like the Steam Workshop creator community, which lives in terror at the knowledge that Valve could cut off their income at any time, Steam developers know who holds all the power in the relationship.

”The whole way Steam handles reviews is so brutal and backbreaking to developers,” one developer with more than 500 reviews on their latest title told me. “I’m almost scared to talk about this because I’m scared of gamers knowing how much more power they have than they think.”

Steam’s review system often works as a support line, where players ask for help with everything from computer compatibility to lost passwords. This creates huge issues with the legitimacy of “reviews,” as developers are given few tools to handle things in a more effective way.

This feels like a pretty important piece and I have to agree that the system is slanted hard against devs. I have a feeling we may be seeing changes coming for devs on Steam after this article circulates. With that said its got to suck to be tied to Steam for your livelihood, just to survive, get seen, be noticed, you have to participate on Steam unless you belong to a select few of the “big” names like Blizzard etc. A 30% cut of every one of your sales right in to Steam’s pocket.

I don’t know what you’re expecting as a reply in a fully public forum from a small indie studio as if Crate do have any major gripe against Steam their hardly going to shout about it in public on a clearly titled thread are they? :rolleyes:

To be honest, I hate Steam. I’ve been very anti-Steam since it first started, there’s far, far too miuch power in one organisation’s grip. At the very start Gabe said that if Valve went under they would release all the kesy so everyone can still play their games…yeah right I can really see that happening…NOT!!! Oh look please re-purchase your games from new store xyz.

For the first few years I avoided buying anything from Steam, all my early steam games are from discs I own that I added the keycode to steam, then the “buy on Steam or don’t play” started creaping in and next thing you know there’s a mass Steam library.

I’m disgusted with myself that I’ve “got” so many games that I have no control or ownership over.

No-one “owns” a single game on Steam, all anyone does is pay to get the chance to pay game xyz, but only if Steam is working to allow you to download or play the game and only for as long as Steam decide to allow you to play these games as they can simply deny anyone access that they wish. This isn’t ownership of a game, this isn’t buying a game, this is paying to borrow a game. :furious::furious::furious:

The worst thing about Steam is it proved popular so every large studio is now getting their own "store to borrow off, EA Origin, Uplay. GoG is the only one that actually sells games as you get the game installer and are not restricted to only playing a game if the store decides to let you. :furious::furious:

Мохровый образчик либерастической журнаглистики. От статьи разжижается моск.

So a bunch of random loosers cry out of fear that he decided to be a game dev, but failed in life and now its obvious? Steam MUST help these so-called developers to wipe snot and clean shit?
Strugle with steam reivews my ass. Most of games with negative reviews have gamebreaking flaws in them. Check ME:Andromeda, Shitlaris and Pathfinder:KM for example? Do ppl buy vacuum cleaners that dont suck? Do ppl buy cars that dont move? Why should ppl buy games that dont work? Try to sell IRL faulty product and watch for amount of returns, then cry again about lack of help from Steam.
Its a shoping platform, not a kindergarden.

Huh? Not expecting anything. A person can’t wonder aloud? Of course I know that they are hardly going to say much about it publicly. I kinda think they are likely somewhere in the middle on the topic. They’ve done pretty well with Steam then again alot of the problems the devs in the article discuss I know that Crate’s just gotta be thinking… “Yup. Exactly.”

Especially in regards to the whole review system and the lack of a good system in general to support people with issues. Support on Steam has pretty much consisted mostly of me and others on the forums there tho I’ve slid off on that of late. It’s time-consuming. I try to punt 'em over this way sometimes but I can understand that some people just don’t want to take the time to register on some site yadayadayada. It happens.

My favorite is how Steam gave reviewers the option to turn of comments and it cracks me up to see someone complain of technical issues and have them turned off. Tho I think devs can at least reply to them.

I think you’re missing the point of the article. Noone’s saying that at all. Steam just needs to actually communicate with developers, which clearly they aren’t doing much of ever these days. And it’s more about the systems in place on Steam that aren’t helpful for the user or the devs. For a 30% cut they could definitely give devs better tools to handle people with technical issues thru the actual platform that’s making Steam and game devs money rather than just throwing them to wolves. It’s a two-way street. While devs need Steam these days, without the devs Steam wouldn’t have much either. They should be gearing their platform to cater to their money-makers in all facets.

Can i remind you of times when ppl purchased games on CD? Like real CD with a box and stuff? Do developers asked retailers for support and better dev tools? Or did retailers sold software out of charity and didnt make any profit from it?

Did you install and play those games in the store?

Nope, but i never had a problem with game instalation on Steam. IRC, the last shutdown of Steam servers was one year ago and it didnt last long enough to bother.

Reviews of any kind could be a matter of opinion, A triple A game getting high scores, but turns out to be pretty poor. Whose fault is that? paid reviews? a reviewer that just likes the game?

thing is, if a game is getting hammered on steam, thier might be a good reason for it, for example, the recent Pathfinder game. which is currently mixed. And it deserves that mixed score. a very poor game, and even with all the patches, its still broken, still buggy now, as it was on release. While there are those that enjoy it, its still one very poor game.

Another game that deserves its mixed review score is deathwing, and the EE versions, first was slammed for been pretty poor, and the second despite getting some enhancements still hasn’t really been improved.

My point is, sometimes, games on steam can deserve poor scores because they are pretty poor, but on the other hand, sometimes they don’t

My other point is, a review from say PCgamer generally don’t touch technical stuff, as the review only goes so deep, or the reviewer only plays a few hours at most. Like the pathfinder game example, the first hour or 2 isn’t too bad, but once you are past that, then you start to see how rotten it is underneath. especially the kingdom management.

Can steam review system be better? probably, but I think if steam reviews were to change and to be fairer, then reviews should be split up into categories, gameplay, technical issues, bugs etc…

While I can understand some smaller studios getting scared with the scores, especially if it hurts future chances of getting more games on steam.

But still, some review scores are justified, but some aren’t.

One problem that steam hasn’t really addressed is how much junk there is on steam, no real quality control, and also how many early access titles get abandoned and no hopes for refunds. If steam did a better job of quality control, then steam wouldn’t be filled with so many half baked games. or those that are just broken on release. Sure with the huge range of PCs this isn’t possible to fully test all games. But at least keep crappy games from appearing on steam. and sadly, steam is full of them, but they have taken some steps on removing a lot of junk games, but not really enough. especially those that will never be finished.

Steam needs to be more active, and they simply not doing that.

So I think there is a bigger issue here, then just review scores.

They don’t do much quality control because in the end it hurts their profits. Steam makes money by taking a percentage on each sale, doesn’t matter if this sale is the greatest game ever or a piece of crap. Sure they could hire an office full of people to do quality control, but that’s expensive and cuts down on sales so it hurts the bottom line twice. No company will do that if they can avoid it, it makes no sense. It can (and has recently) hurt the reputation of the company, but since Steam is essentially a monopolist they can afford not to care about this.

I installed them where I still install them with Steam, on my PC. If anything Steam certainly does not make tech support harder than selling a box with a CD in it does.

Chances are whatever they offer can be improved, but you can say that about just about anything. The dev could theoretically also include better tools with the game, he does not need to shift that burden to Steam.

If a large part of your buyers have technical difficulties with your game to the point where it affects your rating, chances are your game is to blame, Steam or no Steam.

Can you give an example of a game where the review score much lower than can be justified?

I’ve never come across a game where I see a 75% or worse score and have to do a double take of ‘no way, that game’s great!’

Seen plenty where a score is much higher than the game deserves imo, but can’t think of any that seemingly got hammered for no reason. (although admittedly if a game is getting truly abysmal reviews I’d avoid it and never be the wiser…unless I get tipped off by a trusted reviewer elsewhere)

I dunno, I’ve seen some review bombs happen and been in the middle of it. The Skyrim Paid Mods fiasco comes to mind prominently. And that mob did take quite a chunk out of Skyrim’s score at the time. Before the mob I think Skyrim had in excess of 20K reviews attached to it and a rating in the 90’s, then the mob came and I think they did manage to wrestle it down to the 70’s?

Bethesda responds to blowback over Skyrim paid mods on Steam, says it’s…

The article in my op mentions a review bomb as well I think.

And the Chinese tend to like to band together when something pisses them off and they will review-bomb in a very organized fashion. Crate has actually had some experience with that.

There are a lot of GD players out there who use translations that aren’t aware that the translations are community-made, and since patches and expacs tends to break those translations for a brief period we end up seeing a lot of pissy non-English speakers posting during those times but the Chinese will actually deliberately review-bomb. Not just GD either, I’ve heard that there’s been many a game they’ve went after.

So, they can be for semi-political reasons, or just because PewDewPie said so, or for technical reasons… whatever. Reasons.

I specified Un-Deserved.

If anything their score didn’t go low enough over that cluster-F

I followed the Bethesda mod scene fairly closely, mods getting their resources ripped off was a big problem even when it was purely people wanting a little recognition and they thought it was a good idea to bring profit motive into that system?

Its the same with reviews taking a chunk out of a game for excessively punitive in-game purchases. Or technical issues for that matter, if lots of people have tech issues it’s generally a game-side problem…if its just someone has a bad PC that sort of thing affects all games more or less equally (or at least randomly)

As far as community run localizations leading to bad reviews, I can see how that could be difficult for developers.

One such example straight here Link from the very article. Backlash from 3rd party’s upset fans

Oh lordy, I see some here haven’t been looking at Grim Dawn’s reviews on steam…

Roughly, they can be divided into 6 types:

  1. It’s not PoE/D3 fan-poop. Aka troll reviews.

  2. The “I didn’t read the game guide”/“didn’t learn anything despite playing for ages”/“need my had held when playing vidya games” one, which is always amusing.

  3. The perennially stupid “I-didn’t-like-it-for-no-reason”, because of course everyone can read that users mind to work out why…

  4. TECH SUPPORT - aka stupid whining about stuff they should have ask for help first, often magically expect the dev’s to fix it due to toxic levels of user entitlement. Usually the issue is trivial to fix, or is already documented in multiple places to fix. And next to (1) it’s one of the most common types posted from what I’ve observed.

  5. Translation grumping - aka someone sucks at literacy 101 in their own language, since it’s made clear that the translations are done by the community, not Crate. There was also a fandumb war in the Chinese community over who was doing the translation/quality issues if my sh*tty memory serves me right.

  6. Actually bothered to write something type. Sure the points may be inane, counter-factual, trollish, nutpicking or out-rightly in lol-wat-pear territory, but that’s balanced out by the rare user who actually bother to make a mostly on point argument. This is the rarest type due to the effort required.

Other than that, you’ve got the pure troll/joke review, but they’re so rare, banally obvious and usually poor quality that I don’t see any reason to chuck them in the list.

As for certain other games, Gone Home for example, you have the sh*tlord review where the user whines about teh evil “SJW’s!111!!1!” if devs dare have anyone non-heterosexual in the game. Although in some games it’s about the politics, particularly if the devs dare add communism and/or socialism (yes oh politically illterate ones they are two different ideologies) to it or fail to paint those politics in a bad light. Or in the case of Rome - Total War 2, dare have female warriors/generals…

These lusers often crap flood as best as they can, which has been made sadly easier by steams refund policy. And because properly dealing with these snowflakes requires people to moderate reviews, valve will never lift a finger to do so as that would cut into their profits. Because why make games when valve can subsist as a parasite on the income from steam instead right?

And yet GD’s overall rating is ‘Very Positive’, which just goes to show that unless enough users have problems, the game’s score is not affected - and if you manage to have that large a part of your buyers with difficulties that it does affect your score, then maybe blame the state of your game for that

As to TW, I can read the negative reviews, see that many complain about female generals and decide if that is an issue for me or not. Not ideal as I cannot just look at the overall rating, but what is the alternative ? Censoring reviews you do not agree with ? Sure, that won’t cause any issues at all…

Okay, that is a good example of deceitful reviews, still it seems a rather rare occurrence.

And as mamba pointed out for the more run of the mill trolls of ‘didn’t read the manual’ types of problems…every game gets at least some of those. And as that linked article pointed out the ‘review bomb’ situation is fairly easy to sort out from a few run of the mill bad reviews.

Also the Skyrim vs Firewatch shows why purging reviews if they spike in one direction or another would be troubling. One spike was based on a real potential problem - of turning the mod community toxic and paranoid as hell (and mods are a HUGE part of bethesda games…) - while one was based on…basically nothing? So it seems their solution of showing how reviews have changed over time would be a good workable solution.

On a related note this is the first time I’ve ever seen those reviews over time graphs. I’ll have to check them out for games I’m considering buying from now on.

This is a good point. It really seems that outside of very rare cases the trolls are fairly evenly distributed.

You get a troll, and you get a troll, EVERYBODY GETS A TROLL!

Someone missing the point of feedback instruments? The chain looks like this
Good product and proper marketing->good sales->positive reviews.
Crashing lagfiesta->bad sales->bad reviews->even worse sales->lots of shitfest everywere.
Ofc a developer can do something outside of game quality to bring the wrath of mob on himself, but, well, playing below the tail is not recommended even for a popular artist :stuck_out_tongue: