Steam has lately been on a bit of a crusade regarding how to deal with some of the main issues it faces. As the largest digital games distributor in the world, it is no wonder it has to deal with new ways people try and succeed in “playing the system”, i.e. selling poorly made games (or “asset flips”) or making money in other ways, such as the trading cards schemes.
This kind of behavior will hopefully come to a stop in the twofold program proposed by Steam. The first part of the program is the set price for publishing a game on Steam – which has finally been set at $100. This is a far cry from the highest possible option that Steam was playing around, which went up to $5000. In their latest community blog, they had the following to say regarding the system: “We knew that we wanted [the fee] to be as small as possible to ensure it wasn’t a barrier to beginning game developers, while also not being so small as to invite easy abuse by people looking to exploit our systems. Our internal thinking beforehand had us hovering around the $500 mark, but the community conversation really challenged us to justify why the fee wasn’t as low as possible, and to think about what we could do to make a low fee work.”
While this step should discourage “asset flippers”, making their current practice relatively unprofitable, there is also the question of finding better games, or helping worthwhile games suffering from a lack of exposure, or no real marketing budget. The changes to Steam curator should help this happen. The new options will allow Curators to create lists, categorize them, or integrate their content for other platforms more easily. There is also a pre-release access to games in the works, as well as the possibility to make one game a week refundable no questions asked.
All the listed changes seem a good choice for the development of the popular service. It remains to be seen what the implementation will be like.