Valve is looking to overhaul its Steam game distribution system in a bid to promote good quality games. The company wants to wean out “fake games” that are poorly developed by companies looking to make quick money, and has already begun laying the groundwork to do just that.
The news comes via YouTubers Jim Sterling and John “TotalBiscuit” Bain who were invited to Valve’s office. The company detailed the changes coming to Steam, saying that it plans to introduce a programme called Steam Explorers. The Explorers will play through Steam’s catalogue of games that haven’t been selling well. This will help better identify games that deserve to remain hidden and games that should be promoted up.
Valve began its vetting process back in February when it announced that it would be shutting down Steam Greenlight to bring in a new system called Steam Direct. The purpose was to “improving the entire pipeline for bringing new content to Steam and finding more ways to connect customers with the types of content they wanted.”
The company’s new move hopes to improve the screening process by manually playing through content to identify the bad seeds and discover hidden gems. Steam Explorers will flag the games that seem to have potential, which will improve its visibility on the platform. Games with fewer flags will be pushed down in the rankings.
The YouTubers mention that any Steam user can become an Explorer, much like Steam Curators, and will get their own forum. Meanwhile, the Steam Curator system will also see some changes which includes the ability to embed videos, make top ten lists, and give users different types of sorting. Game keys will be given to curators directly through Steam rather than receiving it through email.
Interestingly, both the curators and Steam users will be able to see why a game is being shown to them and the number of impressions the page gets on the Steam store.
Valve also confirmed to Jim Sterling and John Bain that the company plans to overhaul its trading card system, admitting that the “fake games” make most of their money off Steam trading cards. Valve further reiterated that Steam Direct will promise to deliver high quality games, lowering the number of games that will be added to the service.
The company’s plan on having a handful of Explorers to test out games can be a very subjective process, which could lead to some potentially good games missing the list because they didn’t interest the testers or were just too whimsical. Moreover, developers could also influence Steam Explorers to flag their games and push it to the top.
However, Valve’s new direction is a strong effort to stop the barrage of poor to absolutely ridiculous games from getting onto the platform, forcing developers to think twice before they submit their games. Valve is also mulling publishing fee with Steam Direct with amounts as low as $100 to as high as $5,000.