Today Valve has changed their policy regarding the usage of the Steam Curator system, which you can find here. The new policy states:
If you’ve accepted money or other compensation for making a product review or for posting a recommendation, you must disclose this fact in your recommendation.
This comes after backlash regarding the new Discovery Update, with many concerns from content creators about the possibility of sponsored recommendations without any platform of disclosure. It looks like Valve has responded in kind, but the question remains whether or not this will become an issue within the Steam Curator system nonetheless.
According to Tom Francis, designer and writer for Gunpoint, it has also allowed for developers to control what is shown on their store page (thanks for the tip, NicheGamer). This statement raises questions about the possibility of developers pushing less glowing recommendations out in place of those that might make the game look better. A situation that is very similar to what happened with Steam’s tagging system back in February, where moderation and deletion was put in place for the tags put on games. It should be pointed out that recommendations are supposed to be positive by default, so picking and choosing is far less relevant than the potential censorship that came with deleting tags.
However, Steam’s Curator system is not the only thing that has been criticized in the Discovery Update. Many developers are voicing their concern over the switch to a “Popular New Releases” section, which makes the possibility of smaller games being lost due to a lack of exposure in comparison to others much more likely. Developers like Josh, director and artist for the recent indie horror game Claire, have stated that the recent Discovery Update is going to “hurt indies”. On the other hand development teams like New World Interactive, creators of Insurgency, have reported that their traffic boosted significantly due to it.
There is no concrete positive or negative outcome for the new Steam update as of yet. It has been in place for less than a month and received mixed reception. We have no clear indication as to where the new Discovery Update has brought or will bring us. Until there is, we can at least rest assured in knowing that Steam Curators will be safe from undisclosed compensated promotion for the time being.