A More Open Steam Could Be Chaos, But It Could Also Be Amazing

When even Gabe Newell calls the approval process behind what content goes on Steam a "dictatorship", hell, when even Gabe Newell calls the Steam storefront "boring" — well, that's when you know there's a problem.

Judging from his recent talks though, it sounds as if Valve hopes to change that — there is the possibility of Valve stepping back and letting users create storefronts sometime in the future. The idea is to set Steam up as a distribution mechanism where users can decide what goes through instead of having mostly only Valve decide.

How that will work is not clear yet, but already there are fears. Many are responding negatively: isn't the fact that Steam is curated exactly what makes it so good? What if I don't want to wade through a bunch of bad games? Won't we all drown in a deluge of mediocre content?

Oh no, not mediocre content! That stuff has killed entire families!

No but seriously though: I don't think it will be as bad as people fear. Actually, I'm looking forward to seeing Steam open up for users. Think of the possibilities! Here are a few.

I've quoted mostly silly ones, sure. But they're also interesting and specific to my interests. Sorting through stores like that — stores that speak to me, curated by people I know or trust — would make me excited to look at Steam. I want to see what people can come up with, I want to be amazed. With a more open Steam, that's possible.

But right now? Right now, like Gabe Newell said, Steam is boring.

I also have faith in our collective ability to sort through the awful stuff. We already do it practically every day on the Internet — where much of what we consume is self-selected amidst an ocean of awful content. Or to be more accurate, there is always a smaller selection of people who bite that bullet for us and we look to them for guidance on what we should be paying attention to and why.

Plus, if a more open Steam means giving opportunities to developers who might've otherwise never had eyeballs on their work, then to me it'll be completely worth it.

Obviously there are awful implementations of the idea — XBLIG comes to mind. And then there are services like YouTube which don't really suffer despite being so incredibly open. Which will it be here?

The real issue, in a way, isn't the possibility of mediocre stuff slipping through. Hell, that already happens on Steam while it's a "dictatorship", so obviously it will keep happening if it opens up its doors. The issue is how the content is sorted and presented, and whether or not we'll have tools tools to make sure we mostly/only see what is relevant to us, specifically.

But the idea of having a Steam store that can both surprise me and speak to my specific sensibilities is exciting. I want that. It's just up to Valve to deliver something worthwhile.


Comments

    I can see this working out for for when you're in a clan and you can catalogue the games that the clan plays so you can show clan members or even regulars.

    So it'll pretty much be the Windows Store with user made lists then.

    So we'll have a more War Z incidents then?

      As long as they still get booted off of Steam for lying, don't see a problem.

    Have you forgotten Greenlight's opening already?
    Honestly, I don't care if Gabe Newell (or anyone for that matter) thinks Steam is "boring" - it's damn good at what it does. TVs are "boring" - they're just a rectangular box, but they're sure great at displaying images.
    People can bring up YouTube a million times, but it doesn't change the fact that the content being consumed and the form it is presented is entirely different to games. Also, I don't want a computer to start making "intelligent" decisions about what games I will and won't like based on what games I currently own or have looked at on Steam and then limiting what I see from that. The "intelligent"/"tailored" content I receive from any and every other website/app that tries to do that is almost always woeful.

    But right now? Right now, like Gabe Newell said, Steam is boring.

    I couldn't agree less, with you and with Gabe.

    I thought this was why Steam had the Greenlight project going... To find decent games we may never have found. Which ended up being not very many.

    It doesn't friggin' matter if the store is boring, it's the games that we care about.

    Who needs an interesting store?

      +1, the store does it's job and does it very well ! But if people spend more time in the store than in their games...that's another issue

    Another means to bloat an application up with something I personally find a waste of time

    How about not scrolling me down to the game I removed from favorites every time I remove a game or allowing me to select more than one?

    Jesus, these small things do make a difference...to me at least.

    Last edited 09/02/13 2:36 pm

    Im more concerned that bloody Valve/Steam are too focused on releasing new clients/Big Picture mode than they are about fixing the existing Steam store/design/speed/faults. They need to stop talking the big talk and do something - I don't need them to worry about tailoring the games front to me and adding all this extra fluff when there are still basic things that could be fixed in the client!

    It's sad when browsing Steam via the website and purchasing things is faster than your dedicated client. Its even worse when I can login via the web and buy something while the steam client box is still bloody loading at times. Where is the old Steam/Valve that cared about this shit?

    Gabe says steam is boring, thinks video games are fun. Easy solution! Sit tight until the Oculus Rift / some form of VR headset it completed and released to public. Create a Steam side-store, solely build around said VR gear, have people walk around a massive complex, checking out stores and booths and buying games. BAM! Simple entertainment for hours!

    Steam is too slow. Why does the store run faster on Chrome?
    They need to fix their software and show more titles per page; there is so much wasted space.

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