It is no secret that Steam’s Marketplace has taken a dive in recent years. It has gone from tech demos being sold to games with no executable file, so you can’t even open the game. There was a time, though, when Steam meant something; having your game on Steam used to be an honor and a privilege. The Steam we now know is due to no barriers blocking people from entering. As long as one pays a tiny $100 fee, then the game would be up in a few days without Steam even checking it.
How did this start? How did the once home of the indie games become a site that most legitimate developers are moving further and further away from?
It all started with a little thing called Early Access, followed quickly by Steam Greenlight. Early Access would allow you to publish an unfinished game to Steam so that it could be funded with purchases and helped grow by community feedback. Steam Greenlight was a service that is no longer available; it allowed the community to vote on what games deserved to go on the store page.
Both of these may seem like good ideas to the untrained eye, but I can assure you that both of these can be and have been heavily manipulated by developers and “asset flippers.” Now, while Greenlight has been canceled to make way for Steam Direct, Early Access still is alive and well. Am I saying that Early Access is inherently bad? No. In fact, if done correctly, Early Access is a great service that allows people to fund their games with reliable income and a steady stream of people testing and giving feedback on their games. The problem comes in with the people using Early Access. There are countless cases of people putting up a game on Early Access and then just never finishing it, such as the infamous Folk Tale that has been in Early Access for five years with almost no developer updates.
The sad thing about this is that a lot of these abandoned games had a lot of good reviews and first impressions, picking up a lot of traction, leading to the developer taking the money and moving on. This was the case with Towns, a game that picked up a lot of traction and praise and after selling 200,000 copies, according to Steam Spy, they abandoned it. This is why Valve angers me. Like many of their games, Valve has abandoned the idea of doing work to improve these features. Valve constantly lied about caring and working hard to help the community find the best games and get rid of the other games. Recently, Valve put out this statement.
It states that all games will be allowed on Steam from now on. Many of you may be asking why this is a bad thing, and I have two answers.
Number one is pretty simple. Indie developers who tirelessly put days, months and sometimes even years into creating an amazing experience will never be seen or bought because of the influx of poorly made assets in the store.
Secondly, Steam will eventually get in big trouble for this. At the end of the day, Steam is still held responsible for what is in its store, meaning that if something like Piccled Ricc comes along and drops Steam in some hot water over copyright, Valve may have a lawsuit on its hands. Steam is already making headlines in the news for having games like the infamous school shooting simulator, which had to be pulled out of the Steam store.
I may have sounded like I hate Valve and Steam in this article, but in all honesty, I just want what is best for the platform. In my opinion, Steam is by far the best store online, rivaled only by (maybe) Humble Bundle. Its refunds are great, and the sales are always a delight. I just wish that when I scroll through the new releases, I can find something genuinely worth my time instead of having a massive amount of crap there instead.