When browsing through your Steam queue, most will at least glance at the developer provided screenshots on their front page. Many times though you won’t find screenshots, but rather concept art, still shots of empty stages, and pre-rendered shots. In some cases, it is not a huge deal, like when a developer decided to put up some promotional art or as placeholders, but in other cases, it can present a deception picture of what kind of game you’re buying. So Valve is now putting its foot down on the matter and no longer allowing non-screenshots on the Steam Store. A user on Facepunch provided an update from Steamworks, detailing some new rules on the Steam Store that will soon be implemented. The official update, “Discovery Update 2.0” will not go live for a few weeks to allow developers to update their pages.
The first part of the update compounds on Steam’s continuing effort to expand user preferences, the Steam queue, the Store search, and other aspects. It is implied that Steam will soon allow users to block certain screenshots that are not labeled as being appropriate. Steam says that certain games, in particular, “Mature” games, can label up to four screenshots as being “Suitable for all ages” so that their Store page will still be viewable even by those users who have elected to not see sexual content or violence in their screenshots. Other games can also pick “suitable” screenshots. This will guide Steam in how to showcase games in certain areas. The update doesn’t detail how users will be able to do this and only what developers must do to prepare for it, which is understandable given this was information given to developers.
The second part goes into the greater screenshot policy on what to put under the screenshot section of your Store page. Steam asked that developers only use unedited screenshots for their Store page, and avoid putting up pre-rendered shots, art, or screenshots which have been edited to include awards or text descriptions. They explain that they plan to show off screenshots in more places, so need developers to use only accurate images on their pages. It is likely Valve will be somewhat forgiving, though, as they point out that even their games aren’t immune to using improper images, such as on the Dota 2 page (which they have already updated. It seems like these rules only apply to screenshots, and not to videos which will still be allowed to portrayed cinematics and pre-rendered plays.
While most pages will probably only have to remove art or promotional images, this will also prevent developers from using deceptive images to market their game on Steam. These shots, often referred to as ‘Bull Shots’, include images which appear to be screenshots, but which can’t be duplicated in-game or which may not exist in the game at all. No Man’s Sky has received a lot of criticism for using pre-rendered set pieces in their promotional screenshots. Even well-received games tend to set up screenshots more like photographs than gameplay shots, in particular, most Grand Theft Auto games do this, and even Valve’s own Team Fortress 2. SuperBunnyHop recently did a video on the legality of Bullshots and similar issues, which while not directly impacting this Steam update may help provide some greater context to events.
This comes not too long after Valve explained further changes coming to the curator system and other parts of the Steam Store in another post to developers that we previously covered.
Steam may not be overly strict in enforcing this on Store pages which include screenshots that are technically in the game but clearly set up specifically for marketing purposes. You can read the update for yourself below.
What do you think of Steam’s new policy? Do you welcome this change? Share your thoughts in the comments below!