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Devs call attention to flaw in Steam's developer backlink system

Publishers on Steam can use a developer's name to link back to their own Steam page, a practice that means a developer's back catalog may not get full recognition.

Justin Carter

December 12, 2022

2 Min Read
Logo for Valve's Steam marketplace.

Developers are calling on Valve to change how Steam's backlink system is handled. In a video from last week, publisher 2 Left Thumbs (corroborating a concern initially raised by developer Thiago Oliveira) showed that clicking a developer's name on Steam will lead to the publisher's Steam page.

When a game is released on Steam, its publisher is responsible for releasing screenshots, writing a description, and providing other backend information. This means that they can also link to a developer's Steam page (if a developer has one) or personal website.

As 2 Left Thumbs points out in the video, publishers linking to their own Steam page means that developers can lose out on customers exploring their past or future releases.

"It has become far too common to screw over the developers by making both links go to the publisher's page," said 2 Left Thumbs in the video. "As a user, if I find a game that I like, I'm much more likely to look up what else that developer has done."

Chained Echoes from developer Matthias Linda and publisher Deck 13 was used as an example. In the video, clicking Linda's link will take users to Deck 13's Steam page.

Game Developer later confirmed this occurs on both the PC and mobile versions of Steam, and other publishers involved in the practice include Annapurna and Raw Fury.

At the end of their video, 2 Left Thumbs asks for publishers to either be more "developer friendly," or for Steam to make it so that publishers can't be allowed to double link to themselves.

"Nearly every major publisher does this," they wrote on Twitter. "My intent is to bring about an important change across all of Steam."

Game Developer contacted Valve for comment, and will update when a response is given.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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