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Video Game Company Valve's New Content Policy for Online Store Steam Is Amazing

The company's hands-off, user-centered approach is a model other content platforms would do well to emulate.

Piotr Trojanowski | Dreamstime.comPiotr Trojanowski | Dreamstime.comVideo game company Valve—which last week was weighed down with the controversy over its hosting of the virtual school simulator Active Shooter (since pulled)—is out with a new content policy. From a libertarian perspective, it's pretty amazing.

In a Wednesday blog post, Valve employee Erik Johnson laid out a vision for what kind of games will be allowed on Steam. According to Johnson, that will include pretty much anything save those titles that "are illegal, or straight up trolling."

"If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make," wrote Johnson. "Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable."

For a company who earns its keep selling all sorts of games to all sorts of gamers this comes across as eminently sensible. It amounts to the realization that taste is subjective, and that it is near impossible to impose objective standards of permissible content that will please all the company's customers and vendors.

The issue is tricky enough that debates over what content can go on Steam are occurring not just in the wider world but indeed within Valve itself.

As Johnson wrote, "Valve is not a small company—we're not a homogeneous group. The online debates around these topics play out inside Valve as well. We don't all agree on what deserves to be on the Store. So when we say there's no way to avoid making a bunch of people mad when making decisions in this space, we're including our own employees, their families and their communities in that."

As if to prove Valve's point that there is no way to make everyone happy, video game journalists have reacted with near-apoplectic rage that the company will be less-than-proactive in telling its customers what kind of games they're allowed to play.

For Kotaku's Nathan Grayson, Valve's new policy reeks of hypocritical nihilism. Grayson writes on Twitter that "Valve dedicates so much of this post to talking about how allowing a game onto steam doesn't constitute an expression of values or taking a 'side.' but the knowing creation of an all-is-permitted libertarian paradise ABSOLUTELY constitutes an expression of values"

The argument here seems to be that no content policy can exist in an ideological vacuum, and Valve has chosen the wrong ideology by trying to choose none of them. The right policy, Grayson seems to be arguing, would have Valve act as a screener not just for illegal content but for acceptable content. The folks who run Valve clearly don't want that role, both because it would be a monstrous headache and because they have taken the stance that it is not up to them to make hosting decisions based on personal taste.

For a long time, this is how the internet worked and what made it a force for democratization and liberation. Every type of person could find content and products to suit their tastes somewhere on the legal web. That kind of freedom, however, is now being recast as a total abdication of responsibility that will invite the worst kinds of abuses. Grayson expressed fears, for instance, that woke game developers will be scared off Steam by an imminent flood of neo-nazi games.

Over at video game website Polygon, Ben Kuchera excoriates Valve for asking individual gamers to make decisions about what they want. "Saying there are no rules is a good way to make sure no one gets mad, and if people get upset about the flood of abusive and hateful games that now, by policy, have a home on Steam...well, tough shit," writes Kuchera. "This solution keeps things simple, and profitable. Anything goes, and Valve is going to make money on all of it."

But gamers who don't want to play Nazi games don't have to and won't have to. They may have to live with the knowledge that these games exist, just as they have to live with the knowledge that Nazis exist. Neither Kuchera nor Grayson have done much to articulate the full spectrum of "hateful and abusive" games. Would it be limited to admittedly repugnant titles like Active Shooter? Or would we have to start roping in more mainstream titles like Grand Theft Auto, which that lets you beat prostitutes, kill cops, and hunt down illegal immigrants? Should Valve start going after seemingly sedate strategy games like Rome: Total War, where players can use their legions to commit genocide? What about Hearts of Iron, which features Nazi Germany as a playable faction?

These questions bedevil line drawers of all stripes, and Valve is making the prudent decision to not put itself in the middle of these contentious debates.

And it's not like the company would be free of controversy had they gone the other way and come out with a vague, mealy-mouthed policy against "hate games." The Graysons and Kucheras of the world would be asking why this or that offensive game could still be found on Steam's digital shelves, while other gamers might be litigating why seemingly mainstream titles like those mentioned above are suddenly unacceptable.

This is exactly what happened to music-streaming service Spotify when it came out with its own "hate content" policy. Within days, feminist group Ultraviolet published a list of artists it wanted suppressed on the app, arguing convincingly that the company's new policy of not promoting artists who've done evil and obscene things was not being applied as broadly as the company's language seemingly allowed.

Rather than engage in this never-ending debate, Valve has decided to take a step back from it, letting user tastes dictate what gains a following on the platform. That's a refreshing and broadly liberal attitude that a lot more content platforms would do well to adopt.

Photo Credit: Piotr Trojanowski/Dreamstime.com

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  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    When we're talking about net neutrality, we're not talking about this!

  • Agammamon||

    . . . which last week was weighed down with the controversy over its hosting of the virtual school simulator Active Shooter (since pulled) . . .

    . . . include pretty much anything save those titles that "are illegal, or straight up trolling."

    ". . . we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create.

    So, 'Active Shooter' is being put back for sale? Or is Valve saying 'whew! We got lucky there, because this one was *definitely* straight up trolling'?

    But gamers who don't want to play Nazi games don't have to and won't have to.

    No they don't. They will, however, have to scroll through 500 'racial holy war' clones in order to get at the rest of the games.

  • Agammamon||

    In the end, Steam is a store and a store needs to curate its content. Valve keeps trying to make Steam 'hands-off' in the sense that they don't need to pay anyone to keep an eye on what developers have been doing - and that's how you get things like the Digital Homocide idiocy and worse. Imagine any other store that allowed any vendor to come in, place any product on the shelves - no matter how shoddy - and sell it at any price.

    How long would you keep shopping at that place?

    So, yeah, Steam's policy is 'libertopia'. And it will drive the platform into the ground. And that's coming from someone who thinks Active Shooter *isn't* 'vile' (just a shitty game by a borderline criminal company) any more than GTA is and shouldn't have been pulled.

  • damikesc||

    Steam is able to amplify good titles and the terrible ones tend to easily avoided. I'd rather have the inconvenience of going through a bunch of terrible games than having games not permitted in the first place.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    My only problem here is that I think Steam does a terrible job amplifying good titles. It's easy to avoid bad titles because they're obvious, but it's hard to find smaller titles amidst that pile.

    This is not a call for them to start cutting content though. This is just a call to build a better recommender system. Amazon does it amazingly well, as does Netflix. Both of those arguably have as much shit to trudge through as anyone. So Steam could do it to.

    Valve is notoriously lazy at this point though.

    Also I was excited to see Erik Johnson again, but then double checked and I was thinking of Erik Wolpaw. I miss Old Man Murray...

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    My only problem here is that I think Steam does a terrible job amplifying good titles.

    Agreed. I do unfiltered searches just trying to find something new and interesting just to end up spending 30 minutes slogging through pages of softcore anime visual novels. More often than not I just do Internet searches then looking for specific titles on Steam.

  • gormadoc||

    I can't agree with this. Steam does really well in advertising games I'd be interested in to me. It might depend on the games you're playing. I hate vns but I could see that section getting really clogged up.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    The pop-ups and top of the store page do have games similar to the ones in my library. The problem arises when looking for new things that aren't like the stuff I already own.

  • BYODB||

    Steam does pretty darn well for me after I figured out I can deactive large swaths of bullshit content that I have zero interest in.

    Their decision to start hosting movies and such is a little odd and I'm not much of a fan of that, but at least I can turn that crap off.

    I've bought numerous 'early access' titles from Steam and some of them I've had a whole lot of fun with (Pulsar: The Lost Colony for example). I've also bought a few terrible ones, but that's really more on me since I figured they would be bad but for 15-20 bucks I'm not that concerned. I spend more on lunch most days.

    And, finally, GOG.Com seems to be pretty good as well so it's not like Steam is the only player in town they're just one of the more established platforms. Fuck Origin though. Seriously, they can go and die in a fire.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yeah, GOG gets my money whenever it's available on their platform. I don't hate Steam, but I do think Valve is basically a lazy company at this point. Their sales have gotten much worse too.

  • BYODB||

    One would expect their sales to do worse when there is now real competition in the market, but this is Steam staking out territory as basically a publisher for tiny design studios which is something I can get behind.

    Nexus is another website that's doing sort of the same thing only in the realm of game mods which is pretty darn cool and, frankly, way better than the Steam Workshop. I still appreciate the Steam Workshop on occasion, but I'm not such a huge fan of integrated modifications since they can be a bigger pain to remove than is strictly necessary.

  • gormadoc||

    GOG is great. Been using them for a long time.

  • Sevo||

    "So, yeah, Steam's policy is 'libertopia'. And it will drive the platform into the ground..."

    So short it.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Imagine any other store that allowed any vendor to come in, place any product on the shelves - no matter how shoddy - and sell it at any price.

    Yeah, that certainly sounds like hell alright.

    How long would you keep shopping at that place?

    If I can find the products I want, forever.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Weird how it's basically an open market. What this means is that good products are generally going to win out in the long run, while crap products aren't going to go very far.

    It's never going to be perfect because there will be hidden gems that people don't recognize, and there may be some overhyped crap (No Man's Sky) that inexplicably makes a big splash. This doesn't mean the model is flawed, it means that consumers and developers are imperfect. Ultimately, it's the responsibility of the consumer to make smart purchases.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Amazon was like this for a long time, with the external vendors. Not random products, but you might find five process for the same item described slightly differently it different sizes.

    In this case it just opens opportunities for have reviewers and a better rating system.

  • Brian||

    This is sarcasm.

  • Azathoth!!||

    No, Brian, it's not.

    Agammamon is dead serious.

  • Brian||

    "So, yeah, Steam's policy is 'libertopia'. And it will drive the platform into the ground."

    Sorry, but that can't be real.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Why?

    It is an axiom of leftism that individuals will always do the worst thing possible, hence the need for individuality to be stamped out.

    Agammamon is merely voicing belief in that axiom

  • Ariki||

    "Imagine any other store that allowed any vendor to come in, place any product on the shelves - no matter how shoddy - and sell it at any price. How long would you keep shopping at that place?"

    Google play store? Apple store?

  • Agammamon||

    The Apple store has never been open.

  • Violent Sociopath||

    Imagine any other store that allowed any vendor to come in, place any product on the shelves - no matter how shoddy - and sell it at any price.

    You mean, something like eBay? Oh the fucking horror.

    Get the fuck out of here with this weak shit.

  • Rossami||

    re: "Imagine any other store that allowed any vendor to come in, place any product on the shelves - no matter how shoddy - and sell it at any price."

    Sounds like pretty much every rummage sale, swap meet, farmers market or garage sale I've ever been too. So far, I've been shopping at them for 5 decades.

  • Wrath0fKahn||

    Valve's response is that you user a couple search filters to locate the game you want, or follow a private curator who you trust, and you will avoid things you don't like. I currently search to avoid rogue-likes because I don't like them, and they only rarely show up so unless you type in 'POC genocide sim' you'll probably be fine.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    They will, however, have to scroll through 500 'racial holy war' clones in order to get at the rest of the games.

    Bullshit. You can already search Steam by genre, keywords, game titles, etc., and by the time you're done the game you're interested in is almost at the top of the list results, if not at the top.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's not good for exploration at all. Steam is very bad for just looking for interesting things. It's fine for targeted search, but that problem has always been an easier search problem.

  • ||

    It's not good for exploration at all. Steam is very bad for just looking for interesting things. It's fine for targeted search, but that problem has always been an easier search problem.

    Not that Steam is particularly great, but there's an element of "The store/search/algorithm/web design/whatever didn't help me find the gem in the rough that I didn't even know I was looking for." to your criticism.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And it's valid, because people DO do this. Amazon does this quite well. I can't say it needs to be perfect, but their recommender system is very poor. And recommender system's are a very well researched field at this point, and so I think worth investment on their part.

    I work in the building next to Valve, and when you meet the people who work their they admit that they mostly just maintain servers at this point. I don't curse them, but I think they could do better.

  • ||

    And it's valid, because people DO do this. Amazon does this quite well.

    Mmmmeh... you say, "Amazon does this quite well", I say it does it quite fashionably.

    I don't disagree that a good recommender system can bring some nice polish to a business or product, but if your business or product hinges on a good/bad recommender system, you've got some pretty serious fundamental/underlying business issues that need addressing.

  • Agammamon||

    If you already know the game you're interested in - then you don't need to scroll through search results. You just type that name in.

    If you're browsing . . .

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Oh, well yeah, if I'm just randomly browsing for something when I'm not sure what I really want it's such a pain to have to, you know, browse past things I might not want.

    VALVE NEEDS TO ONLY STOCK GAMES I WANT TO PLAY, DAMMIT!

  • ||

    They will, however, have to scroll through 500 'racial holy war' clones in order to get at the rest of the games.

    WTF? When did Valve become an 80s-era video store or 60s-era record store? Even before AI and advanced analytics, you put the 1-2 most popular 'racial holy war' titles in the window and the entire rest of the genre, being complete crap, gets a stack of milk crates next to the storage room. Don't want to wade through racial holy wars clones? Don't set foot in the racial holy wars section of the store. Even more conveniently, on the internet, the entire store can be reorganized for you, upon entry, so that you don't even have to be aware the section exists if you so choose.

  • Agammamon||

    Steam's been an 80's era used record store for a decade now.

  • Sevo||

    "Steam's been an 80's era used record store for a decade now."

    So short it.
    Seems you have your pants in a wad.

  • Careless||

    No they don't. They will, however, have to scroll through 500 'racial holy war' clones in order to get at the rest of the games.

    You really should tell a doctor you're having severe delusions.

  • dchang0||

    Re: "They will, however, have to scroll through 500 'racial holy war' clones in order to get at the rest of the games."

    The little text box in the top right corner is a search field... They won't have to scroll through 500 'racial holy war' clones unless they type 'racial holy war' in the search field and press enter.

  • Wrath0fKahn||

    I already liked Valve, but this this makes me like them even more.

  • damikesc||

    In a Wednesday blog post, Valve employee Erik Johnson laid out a vision for what kind of games will be allowed on Steam. According to Johnson, that will include pretty much anything save those titles that "are illegal, or straight up trolling."

    It is outstanding and Steam is the best service for virtually anything anywhere. I never understood why any company would WANT to decide what games are permitted to be on their service. It simply means you, by default, approve of EVERYTHING that is on your service which is idiotic.

    I wish Valve made games more frequently, but Steam is an absolutely outstanding service.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's an interesting era now, I still choose GoG when I have the choice, but it's certainly a good field now for gamers. Wish that Valve had a little more competition though.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Right now Origin has their service for their games as does Blizzard. Blizzard recently started picking up Activision games though so they might expand further.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yeah, Origin is so hated though. I do use it when I get me a Sims hankering every few years, but otherwise not much for me there.

    Blizzard I don't know. Their basic store is fine, but it's only 6 games or so. If they're doing more now I will check it out.

  • damikesc||

    I just wonder how much Microsoft is kicking themselves for turning it down. Steam could've basically been the Windows Games Store if they wanted it.

    Sure, Steam started off rough, but Valve is making so much bank that making games is a novelty for them, at best.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The Ballmer years were really a bad time at Microsoft. Nothing but stupid business decision done with the idea that anything less than complete internal integration was bad.

  • damikesc||

    Wasn't Ballmer like CEO of the Year or some bullshit during a lot of his term?

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Steam has essentially gotten games distributed from small developers that people would almost never have seen otherwise. FTL was a game created by a two man studio, but it found its audience and sold over 1.5 million copies, most of which were on steam

  • Jerryskids||

    "If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make," wrote Johnson. "Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable."

    Has anybody told this guy the bad news of FOSTA/SESTA yet? You're no longer allowed to claim you're just providing the platform and not responsible for the content, you're either part of the solution or part of the problem and there's no standing on the sidelines.

  • ||

    Has anybody told this guy the bad news of FOSTA/SESTA yet?

    You may not be wrong for long, but for now, FOSTA/SESTA only applies to IRL services. Raping a little girl is illegal. Ergo, hosting ads for little girl raping services on line makes the provider at least an accessory (not saying I agree, just verbiage and intent). Virtually raping a virtual little girl online isn't illegal. Hosting or advertising it isn't illegal. You're right, the acts effectively criminalize a non-criminal act, but Valve's products and missions aren't advertising as much as manufacturing and aren't associated with a more fundamentally illegal act.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    As a left-libertarian, of course I don't want the Drumpf Administration dictating what kind of games can be sold. However, there's nothing un-libertarian about wanting companies to voluntarily take action against problematic content. I would have preferred if Valve partnered with the SPLC and / or Feminist Frequency to help them decide which games they shouldn't sell.

  • Formynder||

    You want an out-and-out hate group to have any say in what should or shouldn't be sold? Interesting.

  • dchang0||

    The privately-held companies don't have to deal with the problematic content if the individual customers themselves choose for themselves what content they will buy and what they will not.

    Of course, privately-held companies are free to curate if they wish; their customers can reward them or punish them if they don't like the curation.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Christ, what an asshole.
    [lifts head]
    Also, Nathan Grayson is a douche.

  • damikesc||

    Nathan Grayson is very much a douche.

  • Citizen X||

    They may have to live with the knowledge that these games exist, just as they have to live with the knowledge that Nazis exist.

    But they don't want to do either of those things!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    ^This^

    Part of being "tolerant" is non tolerating intolerance.

  • DaveSs||

    Related: Spotify has decided to mostly reverse their censorship plan.

    https://cnn.it/2M8BuKb

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "...hosting of the virtual school simulator Active Shooter (since pulled)"

    In a Wednesday blog post, Valve employee Erik Johnson laid out a vision for what kind of games will be allowed on Steam. According to Johnson, that will include pretty much anything save those titles that "are illegal, or straight up trolling."

    Don't forget games that get the SJWs in a huff.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Do you even know what you're saying?

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    He knows what he's saying among lefties.

  • gormadoc||

    Uhh, HuniePop is still on there, along with that frat party game that was just about getting notches on your bedpost that stirred controversy.

  • gormadoc||

    "Valve is not a small company"
    What?! I thought they were a small indie company! I've been lied to for so many years.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The only big if here is what they will define as "straight up trolling." I wonder whether they feel Active Shooter is straight up trolling or illegal?

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Fair point, it'll probably just end up being any small game that isn't worth a headache for Valve to defend like Active Shooter.

    In the end I think the policy is still better than a blanket suppression on 'hate content'; only singular games that people freak out over will get an axe from time to time.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I thought when they decided to pull it, part of their statement on the matter was that the developer was a well known troll, so I suspect they were under the "straight up trolling" category.

    That's the one problem I see with their policy. Who decides what is/ isn't "straight up trolling?" That seems to be a pretty loose designation. Some people's definition of "straight up trolling" may be "anything that offends my delicate sensibilities."

  • BYODB||

    Yeah, you hit it on the nose since neither of those things are very well defined.

    Although I'm guessing under the 'illegal' heading is any game with a Nazi symbol but fortunately they only need to filter that out from Germany. Needless to say, I've found it hilarious for a long time that in Germany's haste to erase Nazi's from history they've used methods that Hitler would have nodded approvingly at.

  • LarryA||

    Since players could take either side, I'm thinking there was a Baptists and Bootleggers element to the opposition to "Active Shooter."

    Folks who thought it was outrageous that anyone could virtually shoot up a school and
    Folks who didn't want people to get the idea that the way to stop a school shooter was to shoot back.

    So if you could come up with an active shooter game where "gun-free" zones were actually safe, it would be acceptable.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    As if to prove Valve's point that there is no way to make everyone happy, video game journalists have reacted with near-apoplectic rage that the company will be less-than-proactive in telling its customers what kind of games they're allowed to play.

    Gee, a bunch of nanny-state fluffing busybody moral scolds want Valve to tell its customers what kinds of games they are/ aren't allowed to play? What a shocker.

    For Kotaku's Nathan Grayson, Valve's new policy wreaks of hypocritical nihilism

    Nihilists... fuck me.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Polygon, Kotaku, and Rock Paper Shotgun regularly have their reviews linked to the games in Steam. Every now and then I check out the articles and I'm always amazed that people can have paying jobs writing that nonsense.

  • BYODB||

    The recent Battletech reviews from RPS were hilarious since they literally did a 180 after it turned out the guy that wrote the first review basically didn't play the game. Don't get me wrong, it's not a super amazing game or anything but it was pretty obvious the guy didn't really give a shit.

    They're a joke, and I'm pretty sure they pay their 'reviewers' less than a Door Dash delivery person.

  • damikesc||

    Yes, few "reputable" game sites have reviewers that are not little Hitlers-in-waiting. Fortunately, RPS and Polygon never got worse. They sucked at the start. Kotaku used to be decent...but fuck they are awful.

  • BYODB||

    People still read Kotaku and Polygon? Who knew.


    None of the 'game review' website's are much more than a bunch of self-styled 'art critics' that don't really know jack or shit about anything. Don't get me wrong, their completely subjective nonsense approach to 'journalism' can be entertaining and occasionally informative, but they also have a long history of shoddy 'journalism' and even worse practices considering they often survive off ad revenue from the very companies they're 'reporting' on.


    Steam isn't great, and neither is Valve, but they somehow just managed to make a good decision here. I'm sure they'll make more bad one's tomorrow but for today I say 'good job Gabe'.

  • Gleep Glop||

    Can you recommend a good gaming review website?

    I'm at a loss to get any good technology news without all the pandering.

  • BYODB||

    Not really, to be honest. Frankly you're better off reading user reviews most of the time, but Metacritic isn't a terrible source since they list tons of various sources so you can read multiple reviews from publications and individuals but it has it's own subset of issues.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    User reviews on Steam are a good start - they indicate the number of hours played by the user before posting the review, letting you know whether a positive review was written by someone with 1 hour of gameplay or 100 hours.

    Lots of stuff on youtube as well, reviews and gameplay to see if it's something that would interest you.

  • BYODB||

    Agreed on YouTube, even while the opinions are from random internet people I've found that random internet people usually love games and have more experience playing them than the so-called gaming journalism outlets.

    Twitch is also handy, since often times watching random yahoos play a game is more informative than reading what some 'art critic' things of a game.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I've been pondering this a lot lately. I think gaming criticism (and I mean this broadly to be criticism as in all analysis of the subject) is woefully underdeveloped. I started doing some writing myself about it, but it's all shit. I hope to get it into a place where I feel comfortable publishing it.

    I think gaming criticism takes a lot from literary or music criticism. I somewhat think that they should look more towards sports writers to get an understanding of how to write about the field. The interactive element, where the experience is not totally defined beforehand is quite different from other fields. And I think it might have more in common with watching a sporting event in real time, where there is many unknowns still at play, then movies.

    Of course you do have games that are just movies, but still. I think that maybe proves the point even. Gaming is hard to discuss and the vocabulary is not well developed at this point. Even though game development has become quite refined, and has even begun to develop a strong vocabulary for discussion.

    I think we need a revolution in the field of game criticism. I wish I wasn't a shit writer honestly.

  • BYODB||

    I'm not so sure there needs to be a revolution in games criticism since it's basically already happened with any yahoo on the street being able to review a title. That was the revolution, in my mind.

    The established mainstream review sites have an inherent conflict of interest given who their ad revenue flows from. That much is apparent to anyone, I'd think, but it's rarely mentioned.

    Sites that host people making their own reviews have less of a conflict of interest, since they're not necessarily beholden to the very companies producing the things they're reviewing.

    I wouldn't trust an art critic who was paid strictly from certain galleries, either.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    Logged in to post:

    Good comment. I'd never considered the "underdeveloped" theory of games journalism. I don't know how to expand upon the point further, but you seem to be onto something.

  • Fredar||

    IMO all reviews, user and gaming site reviews are pretty useless. Atleast to me. Why should I care what some random person I never even met thinks? I'm not buying the game for the reviewer. I'm buying it for myself. And given how hateful, whiny, ungrateful b*tches gamers can sometimes be, I wouldn't especially touch user reviews. Personally I just watch let's plays and official gameplay videos. I usually have a pretty good idea what I like and dislike. I don't need someone to tell me what is "good" or "bad".

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I used to like Single Player Only, but I think their editor was quitting and he kind of was the site. Haven't checked in awhile.

    If you like RPGs, I've been reading RPGFan (Formerly LunarNet if you want to know how old it is) for like 15 years now. They vary a lot, but it gives me a lot of news and they tend to really just present things that aren't reviews very neutrally.

  • damikesc||

    There isn't one, legitimately. All of the sites are meh. Some, like Giant Bomb, I suspect do actually play the games all the way...but they also have such large biases that a game getting a good score means little as they tend to like most of the games of that genre.

    Hell, didn't critics give Destiny 1 and 2 really good scores in spite of the first being nothing for a year and the second one being, well, shit?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Another problem is scores should be just ignored. The text and the score often have dubious correlation honestly.

  • damikesc||

    Took me a while to notice it, but frequently games ranked 7 are raked over the coals. I'm thinking "You know, there are 6 other numbers you could use that might fit its quality better"

  • Fredar||

    Why Destiny 1 was "nothing for a year" and Destiny 2 "shit"? Explain. Atleast gaming sites try to (usually) explain why they liked and disliked something, even if it's pretty shallow. Imagine you are a game developer making Destiny 3. How do you parse "nothing for a year" and "shit" to actually useful information? What does those even mean?

    This is just a wild guess, but maybe they gave Destiny games good scores because they, I don't know, really liked those games? Is it so hard to believe that some people might disagree with you? Yes, I know. Heretics!!! The insolence of some people! There can only be one Truth™!!

    Big problem I see is that many gamers seem to get angry if a game reviewer doesn't agree with them 100%. And the only possible reason why this happens is because they are either paid by big XXX or stupid and never played the game. Maybe you should only treat the reviews as subjective opinion of the reviewer and nothing else.

    And btw, I played Destiny 2 and I really enjoyed it, but I must be wrong.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I have never played a video game, but this strikes me as, you know, eminently sensible.

    More on non-homographic homophones here:

    http://avanneman.tumblr.com/po.....f-homonyms

  • TGoodchild||

    Gamers, even treating them as a monolithic group, love the approach. Gaming journalists, if there is a more pathetic profession count me surprised, of course take umbrage at the prospect of not being able to bend reality to their insecure wills.

  • dchang0||

    This is all talk until Valve/Steam reinstates Active Shooter (and many other banned titles) in their store.

    This is like Trump making a crowd-pleaseing speech at the NRA convention while instructing Jeff Sessions to figure out an executive branch means of enacting a bump stock ban.

  • JeremyR||

    So what about about all the game with nudity that Steam sent warning letters to a month or so ago? That they need to self-censor or get pulled from the store?

    Which caused GOG to start carrying (some) of them.

  • PsiChaos||

    Valve corporation operates with a flat structure. Other than Gabe Newell, who owns Valve, everyone at Valve has equal power in the corporation, whether it's employees who've been there from the start of fresh hires. Well, this flat corporate structure also gives anyone in the company the ability to regulate is marketplace. The rumor is that one of Valve's recent acquisitions, a company with notorious far-left progressives running the helm, had "issues" with those types of games and decided to flex their newfound power to remove the content they didn't like in the Steam marketplace. After the gaming community complained about the removal of such games, citing the unclear policies of Steam marketplace forced Valve to have an internal discussion, and it seems the result is that Valve ultimately decided on a hands-off approach.

  • Violent Sociopath||

    One important takeaway from this is that Ben Kuchera and Nathan Grayson are miserable cunts.

  • Procyon Rotor||

    We've known that for years though. They really don't need to keep providing more evidence at this point. But just because they don't need to doesn't mean they aren't going to. Every day if they can, gosh darn it!

  • Bongo Supreme||

    Nathan Grayson, probably even moreso than the idiots he works with at Kotaku, is a biased hack. His opinions on everything are worthless.

  • Bongo Supreme||

    And Ben Kuchera is part of the exact same clique. They are the reason that written games "journalism" is an absolute laughingstock.

  • MikeT1986||

    You went with Rome Total War 2 and Hearts of Iron?

    Child please. In Crusader Kings you can do far more fucked up shit with arranged marriages, assassinations and machinations. By the time you have any power you've become the villain from a disney movie. Or hey? want to live forever? keep having kids and devouring them for the great Satan to keep yourself alive. It's fine, don't worry, go marry your horse and create a cross-bred abomination to rule all of Europe.

    Want some land? time for a cleansing holy war. Same religion? forge the documents, capture the whole family and execute them one by one.

    First born son's an idiot? be a shame, a REAL shame, if he were to have an accident.

    You got a smart/hot mom and want to try some line breeding, well there's a religion for that.

    "you can play as Nazi Germany" Bro, in Stellaris I can have my race eat other sentient races they've enslaved by sheer force of military dominance. Please.

  • disposableaccount||

    Valve isnt doing any of this out of the kindness of their heart or an actual commitment to letting consumers decide anything. The real reason is because their new "algorithmic" business model relies on no humans in the loop on their end, and expects the users of steam to sort, rate, review, recomend, and sell the games to themselves.

    For most of Steam's history, despite having a death grip on the market, Valve refused to engage with anyone not backed by a reasonably large distribution company. They also policed what got on making sure that it met the moralizing bullcrud that is the "content rating system". They never cared before about letting the market decide what should be salable. The only reason they changed their tune is they felt their old fashioned near monopoly on PC game distribution being threatened by other more modern markets.

    So now instead of a storefront with a few thousand games, there are tens of thousands, most of them nearly on par with the shovelware that lead to the earlier gaming crashes and landfills full of E.T. cartridges. Now one in essence has to rely on steam's algorithms, even put in unpaid work by reviewing and rating games, tagging them, following e-celebs and their recommendations. Now like with most tech companies you are essentially part of the product.

    I'm happy that a large chunk of the market is now more free, but can we please not pretend that Valve is commendable for erring on the side of profit?

  • Fredar||

    And your evidence for these claims are? Surely they are not random speculations? "Because it just feels like, you know."

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