Monday, 23 June 2014

9 Huge Failings Slowly Killing Steam

As digital distribution continues to replace brick and mortar stores, Valve’s power only seems to grow with every passing year.

With just over seventy-eight million active members using Steam, the company all but completely eclipses its competition despite good showings from the likes of, Green Man Gaming and many others. You can also probably argue Origin should be counted, but any distribution platform which needs to hold new titles ransom to encourage members to join is clearly doing something very wrong.

However, while Steam has well earned its popularity it’s hardly without some failings, as it only takes a very brief examination to pick out several critical flaws within the platform. These range from the company’s basic mindset when it comes to dealing with certain issues, to failing to truly promote latest releases.


  1. I can agree with number 1 the most on this list, they've got a terrible work ethic, and in my opinion it's pretty much responsible for almost all of the other problems.

    They wanted a digital distribution system more friendly to the creator, but they never thought people would take advantage of it by creating half-baked products and putting them out as full releases just to make a quick buck.

    They wanted to make a system where the users could say which game they'd like to see on their pages, but they never thought people would include games like Bonetown or use bots to automatically get their game there.

    They wanted to let the community add tags to games, but they never thought that the tags would be anything other than helpful.

    They wanted to give the creators the ability to moderate their own communities, but they never thought the creators would try to control them.

    They want to add more games to their site, but haven't made any real effort to sort them out, when I went to buy the Last Federation for example, I had to look it up on this site because I forgot the name of it, I remembered it was Sci-Fi, but that didn't help me since there were about 700 (give or take a few) other Sci-Fi games out there as well, and you couldn't narrow it down any further.

    In all of these examples, they never bothered to add any sort of protection or have any sort of back-up plan because they never thought people would use them in some way they hadn't intended.

    I'd like to live in this world Valve imagines, it sounds like a great place.

    The thing that sucks the most though is I'm not sure Valve can fix it, at least not with the way they go about things, I'm sure it's just going to get more and more bloated until it collapses under its own weight and nobody wants to bother with it any more.

    1. I agree entirely with your sentiments, and it's definitely the thing which will bring them down in the long run. They've displayed great intelligence in how they approach their customers, building brand loyalty and ensuring they stay with them thanks to being extremely customer and developer friendly. However, it's hard to wonder if they would have been quite so effective if their direct competition wasn't the likes of Electronic Arts, Nintendo and Activision.

      As it stands, and as you pointed out, they rarely invent any kind of back-up plan or work to better protect their ideas. If something doesn't work they either seem to leave it for a vast amount of time, or immediately go to the other extreme rather than properly repairing any damage. This really is death by a thousand cuts here, and as time goes by they have these small mistakes, errors and problems which are gradually building up. They won't fall next year, or even in the next five years, but it will gradually bring them down in my opinion. Especially as their main competition seems to be finally waking up and realising that customer relations are a necessity for any successful enterprise. Of course, it doesn't help that so many of their fans keep arguing that Steam is "too big to fail" and that it won't ever crash. Apparently they never heard of the Titanic.

      Off topic, could I ask what you think of The Last Federation in terms of concept and mechanics?

    2. I really like the concept, I've seen this type of game done before (I think it was called Space Ranger or something like that), and work out well, though the other game didn't quie have the same combat system (more RPG, less bullet hell), I think most of the mechanics are solid (the different races interacting was an interesting approach, even if it can get a bit frustrating), the only problem I really have is that the movement seems really weird, as if you don't quite have as much control over you flagship as you should, most of the fights I've gotten into are ones where I have to sit in just one spot, then just barely moving because that's the easiest way to dodge all of the enemy shots, trying to steer around them when you can't turn your ship whenever you want (maybe I'm missing something, but I can only seem to go in straight lines) usually leads to me running into the shots I'm trying to avoid.

      So far, thanks to the bullet hell approach, most of the fights have been really one-sided, I can put all of the power into the weapons and engines, staying well out of range until they die, or there's going to be so many shots I don't stand much of a chance.

      These are just early opinions, I haven't been playing the game for too long, though the biggest criticism I've got for the game is that the writing is terrible. When you write a story you usually have filler in between sections that you are working on, like "John goes to Washington to meet his friend and fights some guys along the way", and you flesh it out later, but it seems like they've skipped that last step with that dialogue, and most of the post battle screens are disappointing without some kind of flavour text.