Steam has a bit of a shovelware problem. Current statistics put the number of games released in the store at around 25 a day. This presents numerous problems, but the most obvious one is that there is a lot of trash on Steam now. It is seriously hard to find a decent game these days.
Valve has infamously failed to perform any sort of quality control on Steam in the past. Recently they bucked that trend by banning 1000 games from the store in one go. The games in question were apparently ‘abusing Steamworks’, which is a good reason to ban games. The only thing Valve needs to do now is keep the momentum going, because this banning is nowhere near enough.
According to PC Gamer Valve banned these games for abusing Steamwork tools in some way. It was also made clear that these bannings were to do with the actions of the publishers and not the developers. Since Valve tends to use a shotgun instead of a rifle with these sorts of things, some indie developers have been adversely affected.
As for why they suddenly decided to do this now? Well, it’s sort of a mystery. They’ve been ignoring terrible behavior on Steam for years now so their timing does seem sort of random. Possibly it has something to do with the upcoming release of Half-Life Alyx, but that’s a massive guess for the moment.
This banning of ‘abusive’ games is a great first step, but if Valve really wants Steam to continue to be relevant they need to keep it up. There are so many games on the storefront that are scammy in some way that Valve has done nothing about. Not to mentioned games like Hunt Down the Freeman which is a terrible title that infringes on Valve’s own copyright.
Not only does this lack of quality control make Valve look bad, but it also makes it difficult for smaller games to get noticed on Steam’s storefront. There are so many asset flips, and low-effort, low-quality, meme-games in the store that people have stopped having faith in it. Getting your game onto Steam used to be a mark of pride, but these days it’s more a mark of shame.
Quality control isn’t just about removing directly harmful games, it’s about making sure that people know you’re selling quality products. Over the past decade, Valve has washed their hands of the games on Steam, taking little direct action to manage them. They need to realize that even if they’re just selling the game, not making them, it still reflects on them. They need to wise up and take some responsibility for their brand.