Jimquisition: Steam Needs Quality Control

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I feel like a year ago the complaint was that Valve was too closed off and since it controlled most of the PC market that meant smaller publishers were getting squeezed out and they need to open up the marketplace more. Which they did, and this is what happened.

Valve used to be picky with who and what got on Steam, and everybody bitched, so they open the door and now everybody is bitching again.

Jim, after seeing the book at the end, I went back and watched the start....the initial spit looked to clear the podium!
But then you made a goofy ass noise and dribbled....and I heard it land all over your book.
*shakes head*
You can do spit takes again, just dont do noise dribbles :-p

I have to completely disagree this time Jim, they are a store it's not their job to decide what goes out and what doesn't, especially with a store as powerful as Steam where not being on the Steam shelf can mean no one sees your game. It is the job of developers to make a good game not the stores and it's not the stores job nor is it the stores job to decide if a title is good enough to be bought by you that's your job as a consumer. This is a great example of giving up freedom for convenience let Steam control the market and decide what I should buy because I'm too lazy to look up gameplay footage and reviews.

I honestly have no sympathy. This is what was bound to happen after all the fucktards starting screaming for there being no barrier to entry for getting onto Steam. When there is no barrier to entry, the amount of putrid excrement you have to wade through just to find something worth looking at increases exponentially. This is what people were screaming for, stop being a bitch and suck it up.

josh4president:
Two words:

App Store

Yes, what's your point? Is it that Steam is going the way of the App Store and Google Play and turning into a cesspool of shovelware? Or is it that we should lay off Steam because those two are far worse, which in no way actually invalidates Jim's argument? Something else?

Sometimes using more than two words is a good thing.

To be honest, I had no idea the store was oversaturated like this. Guess that's what happens when I play nothing but Spelunky!

LordLundar:

Fappy:
Considering this video WAS about Steam specifically, I don't see what the issue is. Mentioning whether or not other business' are doing it better or worse is irrelevant. His argument is that Steam is doing something wrong and that they should fix it.

The problem is blaming Valve for the quality issues is the same as blaming GameStop for used games. All it is is giving a scapegoat out there so everyone else can be happily ignored. The problem is with the industry itself, not a single store and Valve suddenly accepting responsibility when no one else does is not a magical bullet that going to fix the industry. All that's going to happen is the makers of this drek is going to another outlet who will happily put it out and nothing is fixed.

Sorry, but a "Not in my Backyard" answer is not going to fix things.

I don't think he's really looking for an industry-saving solution to this issue. Despite what he says in this particular video, Jim actually does like Steam, and I think this is him just airing his woes about a platform he wants to improve. There may be a more fundamental cause for the shoddy quality control we see these days, but that doesn't mean that Steam needs to exacerbate the problem, nor does it mean they can't play a role in improving it themselves. Jim isn't saying the issue starts and ends with Steam, he's just saying it is part of the problem and that it should do its part in improving the situation. To lead by example, so that the other outlets you sited earlier may also follow suite.

EDIT: Edited for verbiage.

Steam should implement a refund policy. I mean a real one, not the once only if you beg the service desk. It really doesn't make sense for Steam not to have a refund policy any more, especially with all the questionable games getting put on the store. Valve could easily set it up in such a way to prevent people from playing the game through and returning it. Simply have something about duration played, and/or purchase date. This would do two things: one, it would encourage people to try out all these questionable games to find the diamonds. And two: it would force the games that aren't very good to be more accountable. If people are calling for a lot of refunds, then it's on the developer to figure out where they screwed up.

Steam keeps trying to crowd source their quality control, either through Greenlight, or the review system, and this has only resulted in net harm to the service. A refund policy would net them some good will as well as help them clean up the store a bit.

Dormin111:
I'm not really seeing the issue here. It's isn't difficult to use reviews both on Steam and elsewhere to judge the quality of a game. For instance, Guise of the Wolf has almost all negative reviews on Steam. The claims that Steam resembles the video game market in the 1980s is ridiculous hyperbole. Steam still sells nearly all of the big mainstream PC games, and is the number one source of surprise indie games. This whole episode is a non-issue.

Also, presumably it would be monumentally time consuming for Steam to play through every game offered to their library.

The issue is as a consumer I used to be able to go to steam, browse their section and see a few familiar games and some new ones that I might want to check out. If I liked what I saw or the videos I watched I purchased that game. Sometimes even just doing a impulse buy on a sale.

However, now that there are so many junk games flooded onto steam weekly, a game that is a week old isn't even on page 3 of the top 10 new releases. There is so much crap to sift through now and guess what I am not getting paid to research all this flooded nonsense and I have a life so I don't have the time. I've had my biggest steam dry spell for purchases in 6 years and that speaks volumes to valves lack of quality control.

LordLundar:
Question: at what point are you going to make the same demands of brick and mortar stores and other online stores like Gamefly?

Because everything you are accusing Steam of happens in every store, physical or digital. To say that Steam needs to filter when no one else does is disingenuous at best.

While Steam has started to resemble the Nintendo Wii section at a Best Buy, at least you had a reasonable expectation the Wii games WORKED when you put them into the console.

Lightknight:
Jim, I think one of Valve's big pushes is to create a relatively open environment with reasonable access (while making even more money for doing so, of course). There's a difference between unplayable and ugly/glitchy/bad. How do they walk the line between the worlds of relatively open access vs closed and controlled? Who sets the standards and how are they gauged? There are some truly innovative indie games that wouldn't pass most standards but end up being great to play.

I think I'd rather see them implement a much more reliable customer response to games. Just something that can't be controlled by the developers like it is now. A steam equivalent of metacritic. Most of the crappier games have no link to metacritic and so you have to go off-site to review them. Even likes aren't always displayed. This nonsense of forced lack of critical information is the most valid point anyone has mentioned for Steam's content so far (so thanks for bringing that to my attention, can't believe that developers control customer content on steam).

I know steam benefits when people unknowingly buy shit. I mean, free money and they're likely to buy another game sooner because they're not going to spend more time playing that garbage? Yeah, it benefits them multiple ways. But informed consumerism is a conerstone of a healthy market.

I'd agree to that. "Open" is the curse of a lot of market places, and that's no different with Valve. It's such a great idea, but it has just so many negative results, mostly because it is based on good faith of allegedly good-natured people.

While Steam already has a lot of review information, if they simply showed the average review score, or even just majority of thumbs up/down, on the highest level store tiles it would help people filter out the crap. When creating a truly open market, more power must be given not only to the sellers, but to the buyers as well. Valve has some really tough decisions to make, because whether they let more games on or let users send the bad ones to downvote-hell, they're inevitably going to be faced with the same problem the console marketplaces have had: good or small games getting drowned out.

Eamar:

I used to be able to browse the store quite happily, finding plenty to add to my wishlist and making the odd impulse purchase.

How far back was that? Long as I've been on Steam, there have been broken pieces of crap, unplayable games, and worse: Steam putting them on sale. That's how I found out about a lot of them: I would see an interesting idea for a game, check out discussions on Steam or look up reviews elsewhere, and find a steaming, broken, mess.

No pun intended. I didn't even catch that until I stopped to take a sip of my drink.

The message seems clear, though: Valve values the influx of money more than they do QA or customer service.

LordLundar:
Question: at what point are you going to make the same demands of brick and mortar stores and other online stores like Gamefly?

I wasn't aware brick and mortar stores had unlimited shelf space for low quality games.

I'd also note that Valve are supposed to be the QA/CS guys. Not Gamestop, not GameFly, not Origin, not RandomGamestoreOnline. GoG, yes, but they don't have Guise of the Wolf.

Fappy:

Considering this video WAS about Steam specifically, I don't see what the issue is. Mentioning whether or not other business' are doing it better or worse is irrelevant. His argument is that Steam is doing something wrong and that they should fix it.

And since the programs mentioned are fairly Steam-specific, it makes sense to address them.

I don't want Steam to be the arbiter of what is good enough for me to buy and what it isn't. I will use user reviews, press reviews, and my own research to determine if I want to buy something. If it is early access I will exercise caution. If it has gone through Greenlight I will do extra research.

I think the central thrust of this video is not the best thing for gamers. Before things like early access and greenlight does everyone remember how many good games couldn't get on Steam? I'd much rather have more crap to wade through then go back to having any non-AAA game's chances of getting on Steam to be a crap shoot.

Maybe I should look at the Steam game store more often, because if what you say is true, Jim, I should find quite a load of crap to YouTube and laugh at.

Dormin111:
I'm not really seeing the issue here. It's isn't difficult to use reviews both on Steam and elsewhere to judge the quality of a game. For instance, Guise of the Wolf has almost all negative reviews on Steam. The claims that Steam resembles the video game market in the 1980s is ridiculous hyperbole. Steam still sells nearly all of the big mainstream PC games, and is the number one source of surprise indie games. This whole episode is a non-issue.

Also, presumably it would be monumentally time consuming for Steam to play through every game offered to their library.

To me, it truly is an issue. This video is about the easy to fine flaws and obvious disrespect developers have for the games that they are "creating" and just want to make a quick buck. Jim briefly mentioned something about "stealing their thunder" in this episode here probably inferring about how the game developers "came out" of the video game recession of the 1980s. This affects me because working in the video game industry is a dream job for me and probably lots of other people, and if every video game developer is still using NDAs to bait players out of their ideas they might have for their own future creations then I and many others might as well choose a different job. If this happens, it could be the death of the video game industry albeit educational video game devs will probably still be around.

Isn't 505 Games the one who published Payday 2? Is Payday 2 just one of the diamonds among the shit that 505 helped push on to Steam or am I completely out of the loop here?

Lightknight:
Jim, I think one of Valve's big pushes is to create a relatively open environment with reasonable access (while making even more money for doing so, of course). There's a difference between unplayable and ugly/glitchy/bad. How do they walk the line between the worlds of relatively open access vs closed and controlled? Who sets the standards and how are they gauged? There are some truly innovative indie games that wouldn't pass most standards but end up being great to play.

I think I'd rather see them implement a much more reliable customer response to games. Just something that can't be controlled by the developers like it is now. A steam equivalent of metacritic. Most of the crappier games have no link to metacritic and so you have to go off-site to review them. Even likes aren't always displayed. This nonsense of forced lack of critical information is the most valid point anyone has mentioned for Steam's content so far (so thanks for bringing that to my attention, can't believe that developers control customer content on steam).

I know steam benefits when people unknowingly buy shit. I mean, free money and they're likely to buy another game sooner because they're not going to spend more time playing that garbage? Yeah, it benefits them multiple ways. But informed consumerism is a conerstone of a healthy market.

I agree there's a very blurry line between catering and censorship even with the best of intentions. Hell some people actually like the war Z as insane as that sounds. I like the idea of more consumer control too. I think also what would be helpful is better search options and customization. So you can program your starting page to only show games in the genre's styles you like. If you don't want early access just tell it not to show early access games. The same with the search engine it needs to be far more robust then it is now. Hell it'd be really cool if you could put your computer's specs in and games that won't run won't even be shown. All as optional filters of course but it'd be nice if there were far more of them.

So a few people get burned with buying Early Access or the next best Shit without inventigating first if it' worth their Money. Well let them, either they are stupid and rich and thus don't care or they get wise and spent their money more intelligently, later (and hopefully do this with other products, too).

Content Quality Control as such is not really on on Steams Fault. Only allowing Early Access is.
They really should abandon this.
The better solution is that Steam establishes an official way for REFUNDING that does not put the user at their mercy.

Though Apple iOS QA works still quite good for the most part sparing their customers a lot of shit that is happen in the Android market, say what you will.

Shit gets onto Steam through Greenlight because normal people do not vote there, only the few fans that any game maker managed to accumulate on Reddit through free copies of the game - kids mostly. Then there are fake votes too apparently, stuff that you buy these days to game the system.

I'm not seeing the issue. You are behind your computer with the internet at your fingertips. Google the thing before you throw money at it, watch a youtube video, read a review. So much less of a problem than standing in a store with only the box art and the description to aid your choice. Don't blame your own stupidity on the market place.

Honestly I thought people were suppose to do product research before buying something. Ya valve could do better but so could people. Hell they have reviews now right on steam, and then there is the industry of reviewers, like say Jim and such.

Idealy i would like only quality products to be put on sale. However i dont think that it's Steams responsibility to make everything they sell to be good, it should be the publishers/devs that do that. However what Steam is failing in is its god damn refund policies. Heck they try to argue that "Early Access" isnt a pre order and should be treated like an actual release when it comes to refunds, which begs the question How is it EARLY ACCESS!?

lord.jeff:
I have to completely disagree this time Jim, they are a store it's not their job to decide what goes out and what doesn't, especially with a store as powerful as Steam where not being on the Steam shelf can mean no one sees your game. It is the job of developers to make a good game not the stores and it's not the stores job nor is it the stores job to decide if a title is good enough to be bought by you that's your job as a consumer. This is a great example of giving up freedom for convenience let Steam control the market and decide what I should buy because I'm too lazy to look up gameplay footage and reviews.

Selling products that are broken or incomplete under the pretence that they are full products is a common definition of fraud though. Stores have an obligation to prevent fraud, or else they can, at the very least, be accused of indirectly condoning it.

josh4president:
Two words:

App Store

Thats just the other end of the spectrum half life 2 wouldnt make it on the app store.

I've stopped buying early access titles and I've noticed that the bigger developer games have dried up too. I'm putting the latter down to a new console generation, but it could just as easily be market supersaturation.

I'm unconcearned. Who still buys games purely on impulse anyway, much less on an online store like Steam?

The suggestion for a good filter, as mentioned earlier in this thread, would still be a useful addition and I can see more room for improvement, but there's no valid comparison to the atari 2600 videogame crash.

Yea this is just giving me more reasons not to buy digitally.

I always said Valve are in many ways destructive looks like I was right.

So the problem is that there are a lot of shitty games available on Steam.
This is because Steam is an established deployment platform with a large customer base.

Is the solution really to restrict what can and can not be sold on that platform?

Or would it be better to highlight the perceived quality of the games?

Jim, why must you simplify a such a problem? This is not just Bad games getting through Greenlight, it's good games staying on Greenlight.

Does anyone recall how Greenlight works for it's games to get green-lighted? We get bits and pieces, but it's simply put just based on how popular something is, the hype, the media reception and so on. There is no review of the game, or quality check, as Jim pointed out. Yet here is the elephant in the room, why are most of the horrible games we talk about First person shooters?

There are tons of genres out there that are bursting with different and unique ideas that most gamers will never play. Instead we see a huge clot of FPS or TPS games with little sign of them going away. Popularity isn't dying over the meta-genre of shooters, so why are we shocked to see some bad egg games in the bunch? Well we aren't, we are just shocked Valve isn't doing a decent job of it. Yet can you blame them for content control when their audience whine when a game of medium hype doesn't get to be put on steam?

We asked for a Werewolf game, and we got one, just not the one we needed. We demanded for more minecraft-like games, you damn well got it. Zombie games? You bloody asked for it, and Valve delivered. This is not just a Valve problem, this is a community problem.

Okay let's be fair. Steam is a store... a market place and in any market place there's gonna be crap. Just look at Amazon or your local supermarket.

Now should it be steam's job to police inventory and quality control... well then you'd have to ask... ho do you put in charge? by what standards must they judge whether a game is good enough to be on steam? The oldest saying is 'Caveat Emptor' Buyer beware. As the buyer there is a certain onus to perform due research. I mean should a TV Studio Police it's Ads no? the shitters will be found out eventually and pay the price.

Also this is a matter of 'The Market will fix itself'.

I also find it funny that you mention GoG games always working Jim since my experience has been quite different, I've had no less than 5 GoG games not work at all. Point is, there's crap everywhere and you can never assume as a consumer.

I shop on steam the same way I shop on Amazon. For a game to get my money I check around, I research. Heck the first thing I do is Google '<game name> Problems' and that usually can give you an idea. Not just whether or not they have problems but what are the reported fixes to said problems. If you find that a particular publisher has a track record for shit games well then you 'Don't buy games from that publisher!' Sure some will be bitten but that's the case anywhere.

As for Early Access... the games that are Early Access are clearly indicated... so easy, don't buy early Access.

And Greenlight well, everyone says there are good games that don't get through green light and bad games that do but remember good and bad are subjective, a game you thought was good didn't get through so maybe quite a few people didn't share your view. I've seen this happen and honestly I think it's all good. The Devs need to learn as much about development as they do how to market and drum up interest in their game. If you can't do that, you're not ready for market.

We don't need Quality Control, we need a refund policy. In old days, gaming developers could get away with not offering one by citing a copyright law. "You could copy the disc at home then return it so we can't give refunds on software" they store would say. There is NO reason why Steam, with it's built in DRM, could not offer refunds for consumers. The refund could be cut off after a few hours of gameplay since "Hours Played" is a tracked statistic on Steam. Or it could be a short time frame so people couldn't buy then beat then return their games.

That takes care of all that problems. If devs can't hide behind the "We broke it, you buy it" model we have now, less pure crap would get shoveled out to consumers. They have an impenetrable shield that needs to be broken.

What really saddens me is how you can see a few Greenlight contenders with actual work put into them. For each of them, like Project Zomboid, there's a dozen or so shameless cash-grabbing attempts. I mean, you can really get a sense for Greenlight's worth when the deadpool contains stuff that was submitted with bad MS Paint covers or hilariously broken English.

It's a system with potential, but Valve was being naive if it thought user-curated control would suffice. There needs to be someone on Valve's side who, with or without massive community approvals, can drop the hammer and basically shake everyone back to their senses. We need someone who's going to say "Seriously? You guys are backing this shit? No. Honestly, no. I can't let that pass, not in good conscience."

Greenlighters should have to give accounts to Valve, to prove that they're working on something and that what they do meets a certain threshold of quality control. The same could be said of Kickstarter - as I really don't want to penalize the Double Fines and the Cyan Worlds of this, well, world.

*These* guys know what they're doing. The kid promising hundreds of hours of epic content with stolen sprites and a basic course on RPG Maker, however, doesn't.

I don't believe there is an issue with Steam. Let's consider the alternative: Steam has quality control and can now prevent a game from being sold simply by saying "It's not good enough". I agree, it would be nice to have more quality games, but that line of "Good enough" is extremely subjective and arbitrary. At what point would we cross into the realm of developers having to "Lobby" Valve just to get their game sold?

True, there is a lot of junk out there, but the quality control should be forced on the developers and publishers, not the stores that sell them. I don't blame my hardware store for shoddy tools, I blame the company who made that tool.

If the issue was Valve's games being bad and them pushing the game on us through Steam, then sure blame Valve. Otherwise I think we're upset at the wrong people. The publishers and developers of those games are the problem.

Limos:
I feel like a year ago the complaint was that Valve was too closed off and since it controlled most of the PC market that meant smaller publishers were getting squeezed out and they need to open up the marketplace more. Which they did, and this is what happened.

Valve used to be picky with who and what got on Steam, and everybody bitched, so they open the door and now everybody is bitching again.

A few stinkers did slip by anyway but you are right about the complaints about Valve being picky in the past and people whining about it.

They just can't win sometimes can't they?

If Steam had, say, a 1-month return policy, I feel there wouldn't be a need to enforce Quality Control. I doubt you'd be able to get the money back to your bank account, but that's why Steam Wallet exists, right? You'd get the money back to spend on a different Steam game.

I agree with a lot of people here; the way in which steam should address these problems is to give the customers more power via refunds. As things are going I would be satisfied if Valve remove games that received an overwhelming level of criticism from the community; e.g. 65% of all reviews are dislikes then the game gets pulled from the shelves. The contract that Valve should end up implementing in these cases would be that the producer/ developer of the game would be liable for providing a full refund to all of the customers that purchased the faulty product.

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