Steamy Releases

Steam has made a change in the last couple of months which may have gone unnoticed, but it’s a change I think is a bad one for a lot of developers. In the past when you booted up the Steam client its store page would list ‘new releases’. This is important for a lot of developers, as it may be the only real chance you have for your game to be seen before it quickly drops down the list, and is lost out of sight for many potential purchasers. If enough purchases of a game do actually occur, it will be featured more prominently on the Steam client, particularly the sliding pictures at the top of the store page, but other than sales, you’re unlikely to get a great deal exposure through the Steam client from then on.

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Recently though, Valve have changed the way that the Store appears upon opening the client with it now displaying the ‘top sellers’. Now, it’s simple enough to click on the new releases tab, but many users will probably not bother to do so. This makes it much more difficult for smaller titles to get the attention and audience which they desperately need, and just further entrenches the success of the games which are already wildly successful.

This probably doesn’t sound like that much of a big deal to some, but I think we’re going to see more and more of these sorts of issues arising with the Steam client and the way it functions. It’s really not very good at displaying many titles unless you actively search for them. Valve have previously stated that they don’t wish to become curators of games, but they are essentially that already so it’s time to stop pretending and try to do so with a little more equality. As long as Steam has such a large stranglehold on the market for digital PC games, it needs to think very carefully about these kind of decisions in order to avoid potential ramifications for the wider industry that they never ever intended.

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4 thoughts on “Steamy Releases

  1. I guess that depends on which portion of the gaming population you talk to. The “hardcore” (us bloggers are usually labelled as such because we have the passion to actually write about the games we play) will most likely explore the store page more thoroughly. The more casual player might not do that, and only look at the pretty sliding pictures. I agree having new releases prominently displayed makes more sense, but they’re literally a mouse click away.

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    • I do agree with your point on the distinction. I’m not worried about the hardcore gamer in this instance though, I’m worried about all games having the opportunity to reach the widest market possible. I think this makes that a little harder.

      It’s not this specific change that worries me so much, but it raises potential questions about the role what is effectively a storefront plays, when it also has such a large degree of influence on PC gaming as a hobby.

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      • For gamers like us, we’ll usually hear about a game going to Steam before it actually lands, so I never stop to think about it. Good point though, I would prefer some games got more spotlight than they do.

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