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We (myself included) talk about very similar issues in this week’s Weekly Respawn. Check it out!

Don’t get me wrong, Valve (Steam) has done cool things for their fans – in terms of their games. They continually add free content, incorporate the community in their games, and genuinely listen to the community’s feedback. But that is where the greatness of Valve’s relationship with the community ends. Forever they have been terrible at managing communities, which seems to largely come down to refusing to put efforts towards doing so. Either they seem not to care in their community management or don’t see it as enough of a benefit to pursue it, all of which is exacerbated by the fact that Valve is terrible at communicating to anyone about anything.

There are quite a few examples where Valve does not do the greatest job in communicating, managing, and maintaining the systems through which the communities of various games interact. They are great about implementing cool things, like Steam Reviews or the community marketplace, and now the auction system, but they then adopt this laissez faire attitude that does a great disservice to them. Its not that I am in favor of an inordinate amount of policing/regulating, but at least some to help with quality control.

If you are familiar with some of what I have written in the past, then you will know that I have had this opinion of Valve/Steam for a while, but in specific areas like Steam Reviews and in the quality control over how games are listed. I encourage you to take a look at those to understand why it is dangerous and a disservice to everyone that Valve continues these poor practices.

diretide-dota-valve

One of the biggest examples of Valves inability to communicate with the community was their mishap with the Diretide event for Dota 2 in October 2013. For those unaware, Diretide is a Halloween event for Dota 2 that was well received and considered quite popular when it was first implemented in October of 2012. The fanbase then assume that in 2013 it would be back, which is definitely a fair assumption. But then Halloween came with no Diretide event. Then a week went by with thousands of fans asking where the event was with no reply from Valve at all.

It was not until 8 days later that Valve decided to coordinate a response to the community. In the age of the Internet, 8 days might as well be 8 years. That kind of delayed response is not acceptable. Even if Valve had not known what they would do or say – some kind of response to quell the outrage from fans would have been prudent.

I am not saying what the fans did in reaction to the lack of Diretide is right, or that even Valve caused it, but they were the only ones who could stop it and they took over a week to do it. It just seems like common sense to be a little quicker on the response than that, regardless of whether or not the community’s care was taken into consideration.

If you read Valve’s response to the Diretide mishap, you will see that Diretide did eventually happen but it was with the promise of a new, huge update to Dota 2 that Valve hoped to win back their fans. Maybe they learned from their mistake, but it seems to me the only effort to win back outraged fans by Valve is through their games. We have yet to see something like Diretide again, but there hasn’t really been anything for the community to be up in arms about regarding Valve lately – so we will have to wait and see (though is something like that happening now with Hatred? Read below for more on that.)

steam-greenlight

But regarding any community implementations within Steam, Valve has done the bare minimum to assuage many people’s criticisms. The way they still have early access organized is terrible. The way Steam Greenlight is managed needs to be reviewed. Steam Reviews are still nearly worthless. The only thing they seem to have paid attention to/had success with is the marketplace. Not to be too cynical, but could that be because it involves money?

And, I don’t think I need to go in detail about how they are one of the worst, of anywhere, at providing any kind of customer service. If you have an issue, sorry, you are lucky to get a response back in a few days. Extremely lucky. And most responses are just copy and pasted from some guideline that is laying around somewhere as some sort of catch all. There is no care to actually provide a good service.

Just look at the first page when you Google “steam customer service.” There are so many examples of bad experiences with it.

hatred-game

Now we have Hatred. Greenlight is supposed to be the way that Valve checks what the community thinks about any particular game. But before that could even be considered, Valve removed the game from the process altogether telling Eurogamer: “Based on what we’ve seen on Greenlight we would not publish Hatred on Steam. As such we’ll be taking it down.”

Steam seems to value community action in everything they do, with next to no oversight on their part, but all of a sudden they are taking down Hatred? And for unspecified reasons as of now. That seems to directly clash with the supposed purpose of Greenlight, and their laissez faire attiude, while highlighting their hypocrisy when they have games like Postal available on Steam which says this directly in its description:

Play from a 3/4 Isometric view and take out your aggression on gun toting protagonists, innocent bystanders as well as torching a marching band! No aliens, no mutants, no stupid quest for the dragon’s balls. Just good antisocial, psychotic shoot-’em-up action, strategy and government intervention.

If Steam is taking such a hardline stance, why is that game and its sequels still purchasable on their platform? They seem to not only feature near equally violent content, but content that is in a very similar vein. It only became a problem when certain outlets and groups decided to make a big deal out of it. Steam does not put a value on regulating any of their communal processes – which is evidenced here with Hatred particularly.

As of writing this, Hatred has reappeared on Steam. Regardless of its existence on Steam the fact remains that Valve has been exceedingly uncommunicative since the thing began. Aside from the vague statement given to Eurogamer, Valve has basically said nothing about their original reasoning to remove Hatred and has said nothing regarding why it was allowed to return.

Gabe Newell seems to have intervened himself to bring Hatred back, at least according to something TotalBiscuit received. This is still a really bad sign as it does indicate someone in the company took Hatred down through their own accord and against whatever internal policy Valve has. Again, a lack of consistency. Will there be an official statement on Hatred’s return? I would hope so. It is not enough to just put the game back. Why was it removed in the first place? Who/what can make that decision to remove, or temporarily suspend, a game from the Greenlight process? Valve really needs to answer those questions.

It would just be nice to see some consistency – well some consistency that isn’t just a stream of worthless nonsense in the form of things like comments masquerading as reviews or bloatware filling the Steam library. Oversight and sticking to actual guidelines that aren’t vague would be really nice.

All I am really asking for is for Valve/Steam to put in some kind of oversight or regulation to prevent some systems, like Greenlight, from being manipulated and/or making other systems, like Steam Reviews, actually useful. Deliver on the promises and purposes of what is implemented basically.

Oh and learn to actually communicate with your audience, that would be good too. This new Hatred controversy seems awfully similar to what Valve did with Diretide – though I doubt they will wait over a week to say anything – if they say anything at all, which I would not count Gabe Newell’s personal email as an official statement.


Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.



  • killdeer

    Thank you for saying what needed to be said.

  • Cy

    This is what happens when you have a large, multi-billion dollar company run by people who are technically brilliant but don’t know how to do anything else other than code. There’s no communication because they don’t know how to communicate. There’s no oversight because they don’t know how to properly oversee and moderate forums; they put in a swear filter, that’s good enough, right? There’s no one watching the people watching Greenlight because they can’t ever foresee anyone abusing their position until they do. They have terrible customer service because, hey, customer service is *boring* and what are people gonna do if they’re unhappy, go to Origin? Mostly though, this is what happens when you have any kind of monopoly. There are no real alternatives, especially now that most other digital distribution stores just sell you Steam keys, and the ones who don’t either have a vastly inferior client (Origin) or don’t have nearly the selection of games (GOG). Until someone else steps up and actually gives Valve some real competition, things like this will just keep happening.

  • ArsCortica

    I think the fact that Valve is not exactly good at properly dealing with its fanbase was common knowledge since the days when people still believed Half Life 3 would be a thing.

    As for the Hatred thing – nice to see that Mr Newell values the voices of many over those of a few disgruntled Tumblrettes.

  • under_score

    I’ve never really minded Valve’s lasseiz faire attitude. It’s part of Valve’s identity really. They create tools and let the community largely do what they will with them. I don’t really care about all the crappy early access games (don’t buy them!), and I completely understand their lack of engagement with the community. Responding to all that noise just encourages the kind of entitled screeching you see on every Steam forum.

    Which is why I think pulling down Hated was such a bad move for Valve. I have zero interest in the game, but before this at least Valve was pretty consistent. Now if they’re going to police the content of games they sell, let the floodgates open. There is a lot of crap that deserves to be pulled from the Steam store way before Hatred.

  • this isn’t really news, it should be common knowledge at this point. Just saying

  • Alex

    To be fair nowadays everything in gaming is so damn controversial that anything you say or do is wrong…

  • ghostlife

    Valve ain’t perfect but I’d pick them over just about any of their competitors. Game’s back up anyway

  • Reptile

    No! You’re wrong! Oh wait…

  • AgentBJ09

    Let’s see. We have GOG, Desura (which has games that are only Steam keys), Origin (which has games that are only Steam keys), GamersGate (which has games that are only Steam keys), uPlay and Humble (which has games that are only Steam keys).

    That’s not choice, my friend. That’s consolidation to one platform.

  • AgentBJ09

    Problem is, with how much market power they have, they can’t be as hands-off as they are. Much less when they make the DRM tools many companies using Steam put in place, and make a noticeable profit on things other than games they sell with their service.

    If nothing else, this page should worry you: https://tosdr.org/#steam

  • Honk Honk

    gotta love that steam support. 3 weeks of talking to a copy paste robot to get the one sentence human reply that solved my issue instantly

  • Wisdomcube2000

    Thank god for Lord Gaben. So long as he is still there at Valve, I will still hold out hope they will improve.

  • Mighty No. 56008

    Reading the first few paragraphs, I could’ve sworn we were talking about the Mighty No 9 community/community manager!!! Boy do I feel foolish

  • Zanard Bell

    Let me tell you, this incident really brought the fear in me. I instinctively know that Steam is a monopoly, and while their jolly fat president is Santa Claus of any season, reality bites. They will have to do something drastic to make me earn their trust again.

    Or maybe they shouldn’t. I’d rather their competitors bring their A-Game and trounce Steam. Free market prevails, and all that jazz.

  • Nick

    I don’t agree with you at all about not gaining game modes like diretide. Ability Draft, Pudge Wars, the entire user-driven game creator are all there. Maybe you’ve missed them. But the reasons valve gave for diretide are very very legitimate given the engine changes that are going on. Yes they are bad on the communication front, but I think you’re very factually incorrect in trying to stretch out that we haven’t seen anything like diretide.

  • Nick

    Humble is a resale store for steam keys primarily, but also offers DRM free downloads for many of the games. I wouldn’t say you’re locked in. GamersGate is a steam reseller. Origin, not sure about this one, everything I’ve gotten that had an origin key is on…origin… not Steam. Desura, I’ve never seen anything that is steam only on the platform, I’ve only seen places offer desura keys for purchases or in addition a steam key.

  • I’m not sure what you mean by your first statement. Nowhere did I say game modes weren’t gained nor did I really touch on user-driven content. I also didn’t say they didn’t have legitimate reasons – I was criticizing the fact that it took them over a week to respond with those reasons.

    Also, I think you are misunderstanding what I mean that we haven’t seen anything like Diretide. I wasn’t talking about the game mode itself, but was saying we haven’t seen anything like the incident surrounding Diretide since it happened.

    I hope that clears up what I was saying.

  • Mr. LHD6

    Plus, the steam reviews… My god the steam reviews! The most “helpful” ones listed are the ones that use that stupid joke/meme i.e “Got eaten by a fish, was forced to danced around naked by some guy, tried to make a gun but it exploded and killed me. 10/10” (Not an actual review, but pretty much in that vain). It isn’t Valve’s fault, but I can’t stand the attention whores who post those kinds of unhelpful and completely useless “reviews!”

    Also yes, Valve needs to hire an actual PR and business team who actually know what they are doing in that regard.

  • Mr. LHD6

    Also, GOG may not have as wide of a selection of games, but the service is absolutely amazing! I don’t have to worry about configuring the games to work on Windows 8.1. One example for me is Jade Empire. The game is completely and utterly broken on Steam, but the GOG version works very well! I think it is more appealing to me because I have no fucking idea how to do programming and I don’t know shit about fixing stuff in the files, even if it is relatively simple. I just want the game to work right when I get it… And Steam is terrible for that, at least with older games.

  • Mr. LHD6

    Geez, my comment sounds like a cheesy advertisement…

  • Chino Gambino

    All companies could afford to be more transparent with their customers, Valve has a lot of goodwill to burn right now. My only real concern is having steam clogged with scam games, indies with zero quality control and games that just plain don’t work. I know they want steam to become more of a hands off publishing platform but I think that approach will fail eventually.

  • Nick

    It does, I thought you meant we haven’t seen new gamemodes such as diretide.

  • ghostlife

    GOG is awesome, if you are looking for good and older games. It really it a very different service from steam.