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Devs Answer: What changes would you like Valve to implement on Steam?

Steam shook up its review system this week, and was criticized roundly for doing so. What changes would developers like to see Steam make that could positively impact their business?

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

September 16, 2016

3 Min Read

Valve’s changes to its Steam review system did not go over well with many developers this week. Though its intent was to cut back on review fraud and prevent a small group of developers from abusing the Steam key system to get good reviews, many felt it had the potential to negatively impact their sales.

This led us at Gamasutra to start wondering, what services could Valve provide that would be welcomed by developers? Given that its changes are sometimes dropped from on high instead of communicated months in advance, we wanted to hear what developers thought Valve could do to change Steam for the better. 

The results covered everything from Steam review suggestions to unrelated issues like their customer service options. We’ve gathered them below for your review.

Remember, if you're interested in participating in these conversations in the future, make sure to follow @Gamasutra on Twitter. The questions usually go out on Fridays in the late morning, Pacific time, alongside tweets of our regular news, blogs, and original writing.

First, the developers at Octagon Studios expressed frustration that players are currently able to purchase a game, play for less than 2 hours, give it a negative review, then refund the game. The problem here isn’t that the developers here think they shouldn’t be able to get a refund—it’s that the review stays up despite the fact they no longer own the game.

One YouTuber makes a request for a broader, more functional customer support system from Valve. While Valve does have a support ticketing system and customer service team in place, it’s been criticized for not responding fast enough to certain debacles.

The developers at Milkstone Studios suggest that Valve hide its review counts for games with low sales, as that can discourage players from purchasing. It’s a somewhat anti-free market sentiment, but maybe having players click to see total review numbers could be a simple fix for this?

Meanwhile Guerric Haché requests that Valve tune its review display algorithm a bit to favor certain reviewers in a fashion akin to Amazon—one that validates certain players over others based on their playtime, games owned, etc.

And lastly developer and occasional Gamasutra blogger Christian Allen contributes not a suggestion, but an observation that Valve’s changes to the review system this week slightly discourage developers from donating games to charities, since reviews from players who win keys in livestreams or through other charitable means wouldn’t have their scores rated.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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