Sign in to follow this  
Erkki

Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

Recommended Posts

I wish Value was more proactive non just on offense generator games but also all the asset flips and straight up broken games on the marketplace. It reminds me of amazon which does a terrible job of keeping crappy 3rd party electronics out of their store so you could get cheap knockoffs instead of the OEM product you ordered. For batteries and USB-C this can be dangerous and Amazon doesn't seem to care at all. Steam doesn't care if the game is a blatant cash grab with 1 million achievements and a ton of trading cards or if the game even works.

When you are a monopoly i guess you don't need to care, I for one will be trying to buy more games on GOG and Humble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AFAIK there are 2 reasons to care about this:

 

1. It might let offensive content onto Steam. I don't want racist, homophobic, misogynistic games on Steam either. And I'm hoping that this is the kind of things that Valve refers to when they say "illegal or trolling" material that will still be banned.

 

2. It will let a ton of crap-quality games get on Steam. As a gamer, and a developer, I'm fine with this. 10 million crap games could get added to Steam tomorrow and it wouldn't impede by ability to find the good stuff. Seems like the only people this would negatively impact is gamers who exclusively use Steam's Recent Releases feed to discover new games, and developers who exclusively rely on the same feed for exposure. And who does that? Seriously?

 

To me, the trade off that we get a ton of crap games, but also stuff that's fun/interesting, but too weird or unpolished to make it past any curator, is an easy one to make. I'm perfectly fine with Steam just being a store, not a curator. We're drowning in curators anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be very entertaining if Valve's lassize-faire attitude gets them blocked in Germany, in the same way that they got hit with a $2.3 million fine in Australia.

 

I agree with the cowardice charge, but I'm also kind of wondering if this isn't a kind of anti-trust thing. The Steam launcher and the Steam store are almost two different products, and I think people could easily leave one - the store - if it meant they could keep the other - the launcher. The annoying thing about Origin isn't the existence of a separate store, it's that when you buy a game at the Origin store, it goes into their launcher.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/9/2018 at 4:26 PM, Cordeos said:

I wish Value was more proactive non just on offense generator games 

 

I love this term and I'm going to start using it in the same way that they liked to use 'walking simulator' to minimize and dismiss a game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah I was looking for some real chat about this, so thanks for talking about it guys. Most of my thoughts are basically already covered here.

 

Part of me is excited to let anarchy reign, but it's the part of me that was excited about that back when I was submitting games to Newgrounds as a teenager. That was a badass stance to me there and then, but the punk-rock underground attitude doesn't feel right when lots of small businesses live and die by the Steam store.
As a consumer, am I buying today's big blockbuster, or some kid's abandoned college project?

 

The flip side of that coin is that the most popular games throughout 2017 were games that wouldn't have passed certification on consoles, so it seems like customers are ready to pan for gold. Minecraft, Rust, H1Z1, Ark weren't close to finished when they blew up, and a completely bare-bones executable like Cart Life might be adding something legitemate to the conversation as well.

 

I'm mostly flipping back and forth on quality control. Welcoming objectionable content is not really a worry for me, or at least I'm not thinking about it very often. I do think quality control and cultural curating should be two separate discussions, and it's a shame that they're lumped together here. I'll make sure they're not lumped together in my post with this squiggly line:

~~~~~~~~

Can you imagine if there was a game like Papers Please, but you had to pan immigrants for terrorists coming into the US or UK? Or a game that straight-up demonized the police force in your area? Or where you responded to school shootings as the NRA? I'd be interested to see more politically charged games really test Valve's position on this, but luckily those don't exist.

Protecting the right to upload anime porno is not that interesting or admirable, so this side of things is more of a deflated shoulder shrug from me right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of the morality of valve's decision, I'm not entirely sure this decision is an altogether bad thing.  As mentioned above, Valve gave themselves an out when it comes to particularly troubling content, but their statement leads me to think that they want their service to judge a game based on it's handling of a topic rather than the topic itself.  Ultimately it seems like they're trying to avoid situations like the one the iTunes App store had with Confederate flags a while back, where even historical wargames were initially removed simply for featuring the flag on army units.

 

There is another aspect of this decision that I don't see getting talked about much which @I_smell alluded to above, and it's this--Valve does not want to implement a certification process.  Setting aside the moral and ethical implications of this decision, ultimately this strikes me as a pragmatic one.  Any developer that has gone through a cert process can tell you just have vague and frustrating it can be, not to mention the impact it can have on your game's design.  As an example, most games today only have title screens because consoles require developers to support the game being played from any connected game pad, and this screen is meant to determine which one sends out input first.  That might seem harmless by today's standards, but these cert processes can have other far reaching impacts on the game's design, most noticeably in the various UI elements they require to be on screen at certain times.  There is also a (potentially) significant cost that comes with cert, and the tests must be passed in full any time the game is patched. 

 

For that don't know, most console manufacturers handle cert such that as soon as any test fails, they stop testing the game and make you resubmit, which incurs the same cert fee again.  While obviously not insurmountable, this does present a challenge to many developers, and I've heard some stories ranging from mild inconvenience to what would likely qualify as racketeering.  All in all, a cert process is pretty painless provided you pass in the first couple of attempts, but when things go wrong it can get out of hand quickly which slows down the patching process and in some cases causes games to stop being supported.  Given that steam is a PC platform, and there is no way to reliably determine any given player's configuration, implementing such a process might very well open up valve to legal action.  While it's true iOS doesn't have a cert process, all of apple's products are a walled garden so this isn't as much of a concern.  My guess is that valve ultimately came to the decision that they wanted to preserve the spirit of innovation that has thrived for so long on steam, but didn't want to have to get into the business of policing that content the way the consoles do.  The future will tell what this brings, but overall I'm optimistic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with this is that the horse has bolted: Valve already have Nazis on the platform, and so 'wanting to ensure that people can do what they already could do' means that Valve are in favour of Nazis. There is no such thing as a neutral stance; Valve is trying to pretend it takes no stance but that's like saying the person who doesn't pull the lever in the classic trolley problem didn't make a choice.

 

Part of the issue here is that Valve is an American company with libertarian ideals. This causes problems in multiple ways:

  • Libertarianism is an incoherent ideology
  • Libertarianism is inherently unable to reckon with the threat of fascism or its political tactics
  • In most of the world, libertarianism is a fringe ideology, yet Valve are making what are nonsensical or illegal decisions for a global audience
  • the American experience with enforcement is based around rules, which would be a very bad choice for this kind of problem, while the overseas experience allows for principle-based regulation. Valve could define high-level goals for what games in the store should and should not look like (e.g. 'welcoming games made with care by a designer who stands behind it' vs 'incomplete, buggy or contemptuous games') and, with oversight from trusted developers and the community, assess whether the games being released to the store fit that standard. Valve's reluctance to regulate the store reads to Americans as a sensible rejection of defining exactly how much of a nipple can be shown before it's too sexy or what percentage of a game that uses Unity Store assets is an asset flip, while others interpret the same reluctance as dismissing what is a workable approach to make sure Nazis and grifters aren't in any way inconvenienced.

The other part of the issue is that Valve are cowards

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm grateful that Jane at least had the balls to ever so slightly allude to the news, although in a barely recognizable way. But I've got the sinking feeling that the rest of the bunch is a bit too scared to offend their new employer if they dare to offer their opinion on Price and Fries. And I did value that opinion a whole lot, especially when it was unpopular with entitled, privileged, whiny man children intoxicated with their power to ruin the lives of industry veterans. 

 

Thank fuck Olly still has his independence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Vainamoinen said:

I'm grateful that Jane at least had the balls to ever so slightly allude to the news, although in a barely recognizable way. But I've got the sinking feeling that the rest of the bunch is a bit too scared to offend their new employer if they dare to offer their opinion on Price and Fries. And I did value that opinion a whole lot, especially when it was unpopular with entitled, privileged, whiny man children intoxicated with their power to ruin the lives of industry veterans. 

 

Thank fuck Olly still has his independence.

 

I can't decode this post at all. Is this something I would need Twitter to understand? If so, can anyone catch me up?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Price and Fries were the two ArenaNet employees fired recently, one for daring not to take shit from some guy on twitter and another for sticking up for her. I'm not sure exactly what this has to do with Valve but I guess the idea is that the Thumbs, now that they work for Valve, are too scared of saying anything because Valve wouldn't like their employees speaking up about this sort of thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is Valve? Valve is dead to me. Their cowardice and apathy is truly insufferable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(This whole discussion should probably be moved to a separate thread. Mods, is this doable?)

 

This is what Vainamoinen is referring to: 

 

 

14 hours ago, Vainamoinen said:

I'm grateful that Jane at least had the balls to ever so slightly allude to the news, although in a barely recognizable way. But I've got the sinking feeling that the rest of the bunch is a bit too scared to offend their new employer if they dare to offer their opinion on Price and Fries.

 

They maybe just don't want to offer their opinions because the whole thing is kind of a mess? From where I'm standing, it looks like Price is being a real dick to a guy who just wanted to offer his toughts on narrative design. That said, I don't think she should lose her job over it.

 

I should add a HUGE ASTERISK here tho: I don't follow either of these people normally, so I don't know if there's any history here. Maybe the guy keeps butting in with his unwanted opinions every time she posts or something? If that's the case, sure, I can see why she'd finally had enough of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm aware of Price because we have a mutual friend (who guest stars in the tweets getting passed around where she is pleased over TB's death*) and she's real quick on the trigger finger when it comes to gender. ArenaNet knew that when they hired her, and they said at the time they were okay with this. This is, I think, the first time Price has ever talked publicly about her process.

 

The thing is, despite O'Brien's claims, ArenaNet's communication with the community is rubbish. They've recently started doing 'Q&As' but it's almost impossible to get an answer out of them regarding certain pain points, one of which is the way the narrative focus has narrowed to mostly meaningless, cosmetic choices. I think this is understandable, because GW2's narrative is mostly incompetent (and I believe the only reason the recent expansion managed to approach decent storytelling is thanks in part to Price) so narrowing the scope to something they can actually execute on makes sense. A GW2 streamer seizing the opportunity of an ArenaNet employee talking about their approach to complain about the narrative was inevitable. Price taking someone trying to tell her how to do her job with umbrage was also inevitable. ArenaNet HR should have already had a plan in place, and may well have and been overruled by O'Brien. (ArenaNet PR has been badly mismanaged, and the new guy is busy trying to make competent trailers and probably didn't have a plan in place for dealing with community blow-ups.)

 

That said, this is completely off-topic because ArenaNet don't have their core product on Steam and never will, for understandable business reasons. (I've also closed my GW2 account over this: given that a) they've fired half their narrative team when they insist on producing a narrative product, b ) their community is full of gators now, c) the problems with the game are still never going to be fixed, and d) so many great games came out in 2017 that it was already getting hard to justify playing a game that I had already kind of seen enough of, it felt like the right move.)

 

* I first ran across TB when he did a podcast called Blue Plz about WoW, and saw his Cataclysm fly-through videos. The first time I listened to the podcast, he spent the first ten minutes talking about his haters before he got to anything he intended to cover. Once I saw his infamous philosophy post to Something Awful, I figured I knew all I needed to. Assholes like that don't change, they just get better at hiding themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't read absolutely anything into the Thumbs not commenting on the absurd "Guild Wars 2" situation. (Absurd in that the two people should not have been fired.) I presume Jake and Chris feel the same way about the situation as most other game developers I've seen comment on it (if they're even aware about it). The fact they haven't said anything likely has nothing to do with now working at Valve; they've been way less publicly active on the internet in general since announcing the acquisition. They're probably still busy settling into their new surroundings and probably also on the game they're working on--I could see how after a month+ long process of moving and getting everything sorted out and spending time getting acquainted with their new place that some of them probably then wanted to get heads-down on working on the game itself, especially since they now have many more people and resources available to them to help them on it. Of course this is all pure speculation on my part, but in any case regardless of why they haven't commented on it, I still wouldn't read much of anything into it.

 

As for the situation itself: I know nothing about Price or Deroir but just reading the tweet thread and some news articles about it, sure she might have overreacted to what seemed like a fairly innocuous response by Deroir (he even ended his little series of 4 tweets by saying "nonetheless, I appreciate the insightful thread!"), but so what. I bet the only reason her boss was upset and fired her and the co-worker who backed her up on Twitter is because Deroir is a regular "Guild Wars 2" streamer. If Deroir was just a random person that no one knew of then I doubt the boss/anyone would have cared. 

 

And even if they *did*, it still seems like the worst Price and Fries should have received was just a talk about how Deroir didn't seem to intend any malice in his response. A simple "hey, I saw that incident with Deroir on Twitter and just wanted to say I think he didn't mean any malice" should have been all that was needed, if anything. But as already has been stated, when you take into context how women are very often treated by men on the internet (and the fact that men often do intend malice, even if it doesn't seem overt), no one should be shocked or upset about Price taking umbrage with it. I totally understand how women would have a difficult if not impossible time differentiating between someone who means ill intent in their response or someone who doesn't. And I know nothing about Deroir prior to this incident happening so who knows, maybe he has said things in the past that would make Price assume he did mean ill intent. In any case, no one should be upset about her reaction. There are some women who have a very stringent "I don't take any advice, criticism, input, comments, etc. from men on the internet into account and I do not want to receive any of them" policy online, which is understandable. Price's bio on Twitter that says "I block often; I won't play demure for you" strongly indicates that is probably her policy, and people responding to her should already be aware of that or be able to figure that out by looking at her profile for 2 minutes.

 

Also aside from everything else, even if this was an interaction that happened between two men or two women, I still feel like no one should be upset about the response from the game developer. Even if they were wrong/the person giving the feedback was right. Whether anyone takes into account any feedback they receive is totally up to them. And if they respond to your feedback saying they're not interested in/do not want it, then you should simply accept that that's their policy and move on.

 

Firing the two employees sets a terrible precedent and also emboldens the absolute worst knuckle-dragging troglodytes. Just like what happened when Steam announced their new "nearly anything goes on our store" policy, you see lots of GnomeGoober type people celebrating what happened with this incident. The worst part of all this is that based on Deroir's tweets I highly doubt he wanted Price and the other person to be fired. (If that is the case, he should really make it clear/say so.) Seems like an absolutely egregious mistake on the part of O'Brien to fire Price and Fries.

 

Hopefully both Price and Fries get hired soon, by a better company.

 

Anyway, like Henke and Merus said this is all obviously off-topic for this thread. I did have something I wanted to post that pertains to Steam, but will do so in a separate post in case the last couple responses get moved to a new thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Siromatic said:

And even if they *did*, it still seems like the worst Price and Fries should have received was just a talk about how Deroir didn't seem to intend any malice in his response. A simple "hey, I saw that incident with Deroir on Twitter and just wanted to say I think he didn't mean any malice" should have been all that was needed, if anything.

 

This is obviously total speculation, and may be giving O'Brien and ArenaNet way too much credit, but the first thing that occurred to me when I read up on this was that that may well have been the intention. Again, I have no inside information to confirm this whatsoever, but it would not shock me at all if the expectation internally had been that Price and Fries would get a slap on the wrist, possibly including a mandatory public apology, but they refused it. That's a much more logical progression for me: (relatively) minor incident -> punishment handed down with required contrition -> refusal to apologise -> manager gets pissed off and fires them.

 

It could be that I'm totally wrong and O'Brien really is on such a hair trigger that it jumped all the way to firing immediately, but part of the reason I thought that might not be the case is that Fries was fired too, and his responses were way less confrontational. Correct me if I'm wrong, but pretty much all he did was gently back Price up by saying things like she had not asked for Deroir's feedback. It seems like a stretch even for a tone-deaf executive to consider that a fireable offence. The only other reason that occurred to me that he might have gotten the sack was as a craven shielding manoeuvre against accusations of sexism, since now ArenaNet can say "no, we fired the man too". As I said, I might just be giving way too much credit and expecting way too much rationality, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Siromatic said:

I wouldn't read absolutely anything into the Thumbs not commenting on the absurd "Guild Wars 2" situation.

 

I deeply regret I've made the insinuation above. I was looking for level headed to snarky responses to the situation, was looking for them where expected, couldn't find them and wanted to blame someone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Gwardinen said:

 

This is obviously total speculation, and may be giving O'Brien and ArenaNet way too much credit, but the first thing that occurred to me when I read up on this was that that may well have been the intention. Again, I have no inside information to confirm this whatsoever, but it would not shock me at all if the expectation internally had been that Price and Fries would get a slap on the wrist, possibly including a mandatory public apology, but they refused it. That's a much more logical progression for me: (relatively) minor incident -> punishment handed down with required contrition -> refusal to apologise -> manager gets pissed off and fires them.

 

It could be that I'm totally wrong and O'Brien really is on such a hair trigger that it jumped all the way to firing immediately, but part of the reason I thought that might not be the case is that Fries was fired too, and his responses were way less confrontational. Correct me if I'm wrong, but pretty much all he did was gently back Price up by saying things like she had not asked for Deroir's feedback. It seems like a stretch even for a tone-deaf executive to consider that a fireable offence. The only other reason that occurred to me that he might have gotten the sack was as a craven shielding manoeuvre against accusations of sexism, since now ArenaNet can say "no, we fired the man too". As I said, I might just be giving way too much credit and expecting way too much rationality, though.

 

That's possible, but of course none of us have any idea what precisely happened. 

 

Just want to clarify: I don't think O'Brien or anyone else should have demanded an apology from Price or Fries. When I said the worst (if anything) they should have received was a simple "hey, I saw that exchange with Deroir on Twitter and just wanted to say I don't think he meant any malice," I mean that should have been stated as lightly as possible and left at that--he should have let Price decide whether or not to apologize. (Also it should have been prefaced or followed-up with "I understand where you, Price, are coming from, but closely looking at his wording and what he followed up with I don't think he meant any ill will.") Price could have very well not have been happy to have been told that by her superior and decided to leave over it, but that would have been her decision.

 

Also all the reporting about the incident specifically says they were fired. If there was more to it and at first they had just been asked to apologize and refused to, I think that would have come out by now/been in the reporting in the first place. And like I said, I don't think they should have been asked to apologize, and would understand them refusing to if asked to do so. So even if that was the way in which it elevated to them being fired, it still should not have reached that point.

 

I really don't understand why O'Brien--if he felt so strongly about this--didn't just PM Deroir and apologize for the incident. He could have explained where Price was coming from/the context of her and all other women on the internet being bombarded by messages with malice behind them, but said that for him personally looking at Deroir's wording he felt there was no ill will intended. Then he could have thanked him for his support of "Guild Wars 2," and left it at that. Deroir seems like the type of person that would have been more than satisfied with that response, and probably would have even deleted his tweets. Just seems like this could have been much more easily resolved and in a manner that didn't have terrible consequences. Oh well, too late now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Vainamoinen said:

 

I deeply regret I've made the insinuation above. I was looking for level headed to snarky responses to the situation, was looking for them where expected, couldn't find them and wanted to blame someone.

 

Oh, no worries. It is a bummer that (as far as I know; could be wrong) none of the Thumbs have given an update about whether the "Important If True," "Idle Thumbs" or the "Idle Thumbs Book Club" podcasts will resume. I think they said they intended for them to in the immediate aftermath of the acquisition being announced, but I don't think anything's been said since. I've just assumed they're all still too busy and an update one way or the other will come in due time. It'll be sad if the pods don't get cast from their glorious reels once again, hauling in only the finest of fish. But we'll have to accept the outcome either way.

 

Also, regarding fish, remember to: eat them up, yum!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Siromatic said:

I really don't understand why O'Brien--if he felt so strongly about this--didn't just PM Deroir and apologize for the incident. He could have explained where Price was coming from/the context of her and all other women on the internet being bombarded by messages with malice behind them, but said that for him personally looking at Deroir's wording he felt there was no ill will intended.

 

The subreddit was already on fire at that point, and it was 100% gendered. A quiet word to Deroir wouldn't have fixed anything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/9/2018 at 8:04 PM, Merus said:

 

The subreddit was already on fire at that point, and it was 100% gendered. A quiet word to Deroir wouldn't have fixed anything.

 

Yeah, I read these two articles today (first one heresecond one here) which elucidated some more on what happened.

 

Seems pretty obvious O'Brien capitulated to angry video game players, some amount of whom were GnomeGoobers (notorious GnomeGoober hangouts were also on fire/talking about what was happening prior to the firings, per the second article linked above) and some that were just "Guild Wars 2" devotees that got riled up about it. 

 

O'Brien could have made a public apology to Deroir without firing Price or Fries. Yes, he would have been throwing them under the bus, and one or both of them likely would have quit over it, and it would have all still been a big mess and still a cowardly move on his part. But it would have been slightly less egregious than just firing them. 

 

But honestly the obvious best thing he could have done was just let the damn thing blow over. This shit was happening during the week of a major holiday in America, and in the middle of summer (for everyone in the Northern Hemisphere). There couldn't have possibly been that huge a percentage of the overall "Guild Wars 2" playerbase actively clued into what was happening or that would have cared in the first place. (If there was, then I'm sorry but that's sad.) Combine doing that with apologizing to Deroir in private to try to keep him as an active member of the community via streaming, and I doubt too many people would have still been talking about it a couple weeks/month from now.

 

(If anyone's just now looking at page 5 of this thread and totally bewildered, we got super off-topic and have been discussing the firing of Jessica Price and Peter Fries. Posts pertaining to that so far are 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, and 20 on page 5. Everything else is still mostly about Steam/Valve.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this