Popular YouTuber Denounces Steam, Plans To Curate Own Store

Popular YouTuber Denounces Steam, Plans To Curate Own Store

Despite practically being PC gaming, Steam is by no means perfect — as we've discussed on numerous occasions. But is the whole enterprise busted, not so much a sinking ship as it is a ship that's sinking a lot of great games? Popular YouTuber NerdCubed thinks so, and that's why he's abandoning Steam altogether.

Daniel "NerdCubed" Hardcastle has critiqued Steam in the past, but now he's finally reached his breaking point. Despite being one of the biggest Steam curators — people who maintain lists of recommended games on Steam to help others sort through the madness — he decided to delete his Steam curation page and take his game highlighting services elsewhere. Why? A lot of reasons.

"It was entirely my choice to delete it after much discussion," he said in the above video. "I've been quite critical of Steam lately, and it felt weird that on one hand I was criticising Steam and on the other hand I had this list of games on Steam. As such, my logo and videos were being plastered all over Steam. So on one hand I'm being critical, and on the other I'm getting a little bit of ad revenue just from Steam... It felt wrong to me."

He went on to say that he believes Steam isn't what it used to be. Back in the day, it was a walled garden surrounded by a moat full of genetically enhanced killer mermaids — a storefront that only featured (rare exceptions aside) the best of the best. Everything else was ruthlessly punched and shown the door. People knew they could go there for quality. However, with the advent of Steam Greenlight (which lets people submit games for possible sale on Steam if they get enough votes from users) and Steam Early Access, Hardcastle thinks the quality bar has gone from the ceiling to six feet under the floor.

"Having people vote [on Greenlight] means that if one semi-decent YouTuber of any kind of size goes, 'Hey look, I like this game' — even if it's a piece of shit or has a funny video with it — that thing's gonna get greenlit to the f**king moon," he opined. "It could be anything. I mean, I think with the current setup of Greenlight you're more likely to get on Steam if your game is a screaming, howling piece of donkey piss. A good-to-OK game has no chance. If a game is fantastically, endlessly brilliant or awful, it will get on. Nothing in the middle will. That just doesn't work as a system. That's a broken system.

He had similarly harsh words for the current state of Early Access: "It's people saying, 'I'm gonna make the next Minecraft!' and then giving up after a week." And while many Early Access games do eventually reached completion, some recent high-profileslip-ups should be enough to give people pause.

Now, that's not to say Hardcastle thinks Early Access is entirely busted as a concept, but certain types of games, in his opinion, lend themselves extremely poorly to being played before they're done.

Something like Kerbal Space Program, with incremental additions to a solid core, can thrive on there, but barebones open-world games and incomplete competitive multiplayer games? "Just throw the money away," he exclaimed. "Throw the money into a pit of servers that never worked."

Popular YouTuber Denounces Steam, Plans To Curate Own Store

Using examples of infamous Steam failures like Air Control and Ride To Hell: Retribution, he further argued that it's in Steam's best interest to have as many games up for sale as possible since Valve takes a 30 per cent cut of the profits. Developers used to benefit in spite of that because getting on Steam was like striking an endless vein of gold, oil, and chocolate, but now games get crowded off the front page due to sheer volume — if they even make it that far.

He also called Steam a monopoly, something that doesn't sit well with him. He said GOG's upcoming variation on Steam's theme, GOG Galaxy, can only mean good news for everyone (for the record, I'm inclined to agree). Further, he noted that Steam's lofty status as the PC game store has allowed it to languish. "You could carve the grand canyon out using only your tongue faster than you get a reply on Steam support," he said, clearly agitated.

Then he got to the heart of the matter. "Steam curators were Valve's attempt to fix this. 'If you want to clear this up, go ahead. You can do this job for us.' And well... I don't want to do your job for you!"

Hardcastle's plan now that he's left Steam? To create his own storefront by way of Humble and do his own curation there. He does not plan to take any sort of cut from it — no money whatsoever. In his eyes, that means everybody wins. Developers get more money, and he doesn't have any conflict of interest. He added: "Basically what I've done is gone, 'I'm gonna build my own Steam, with blackjack and Hooker Simulator 2015.'"

It's an interesting idea, for sure. If nothing else, it directs eyeballs away from Steam — to games that might fall outside its massive chomping bear trap — so that's good. I think Hardcastle exaggerated Steam's issues a little, both in terms of what it used to be and what it is now, but he did make some good points. Steam is, at least as a store, kind of a mess right now. Valve wants to create an open ecosystem in which game makers post whatever they want, and players/critics/whoever else curates that for friends and fans. Problem is, Steam is still in the process of transitioning from how it used to operate (walled garden) to Valve's pristine vision of a user-driven utopia.

Popular YouTuber Denounces Steam, Plans To Curate Own Store

The middle steps are always the hardest, and it seems like there's a new landmine — some new and unexpected problem or complication — every step of the way. Are we simply seeing a prolonged period of growing pains, or is Valve's idea of a fully open Steam storefront fundamentally misguided? I suppose only time will tell on that front. Even recently, Steam has given the spotlight to some incredible games and communities that might not have ever been discovered otherwise, but there's no doubting that it could be better. There's no consistency anymore. Steam isn't reliable for gamers or game-makers.

For his part, Hardcastle/NerdCubed is hoping for the best. Just, you know, from a distance.

"I just want to keep being critical of it," he said, "because maybe if we keep being critical, things will actually f**king change. Maybe."

Yesterday, I attempted to reach out to Hardcastle with some follow-up questions, but he's yet to respond. If he gets in touch, I'll update this post with anything he has to add.


    Shouldn't this be "Youtuber has shitfit, yells at Steam" or "Youtuber does something thousands of people on YT do everyday"...?

    I also like how he's sidestepped his little role in being part of what he perceives to be the problem with Greenlight.

      Did you read the article? Like, at all? He specifically addressed that.

      "I’ve been quite critical of Steam lately, and it felt weird that on one hand I was criticising Steam and on the other hand I had this list of games on Steam. As such, my logo and videos were being plastered all over Steam. So on one hand I’m being critical, and on the other I’m getting a little bit of ad revenue just from Steam… It felt wrong to me"

    I understand people people have issues with Green-light, but jeez, if you're not interested in a game, don't buy it. Steam has its issues, it's not perfect, but as I see it, in my experience, it's pretty much the best digital distribution system there is (currently). If you buy an awful game, or are disappointed by a purchase you made either too early or without educating yourself that's entirely your fault. Seriously, if you buy something just because some one recommended it or, god forbid, it's merely available in a store, you deserve absolutely no sympathy at all. People should seriously learn to either purchase items responsibly, or take responsibility for their purchases.

      I think its not so much that people are buying shit games, it's the fact that you have to wade through chest high shit to find the gems floating in the shit river

        A fair point, and I totally understand that people don't like the way it's sorted, but I think that's a difference in philosophy. The big gems (that wouldn't need to go though green light) you probably know about already, while the smaller ones that you definitely wouldn't know about (that have to go through green light) wouldn't be there if not for the system that allows the rubbish games through. Personally I like the fact that it's there, I just don't think they've implemented it very well yet. As a result I think the games in the middle (the indie games successful enough to make it into steam in their own right) are the ones that are hurt the most by this. That's no small issue, but I feel that's an issue of the store including green lit games in the same section. If they had a different method of sorting (e.g. a Store and a Green Light without over lap, or an option to filter green lit games as a separate category to the rest of the store) that may not be such an issue.

        If only it had a search function and the rest of the internet to tell you what to look for!

      Agreed. I also think it misses the point that Steam allows developers of all skill levels to have access to massive distribution. I'm all for supporting creative processes be it art, music, games, whatever and Steam allows anyone to be able to share their creations with a huge community. To screen it so frugally would reduce the support for smaller inexperienced devs.

      I like GoG's system a lot better personally. There's no DRM whatsoever. You download the game, install it and play it. Nothing else is needed.

      I've been turned off Steam ever since I bought a boxed, retail copy of a game that required me to install Steam to play it. No matter how you slice it, that's just a form of DRM, and one that shouldn't be needed with a boxed copy of a game.

        I've never experienced that myself, but that's a pretty massive bummer. DRM definitely shouldn't be included in retail copies (although I'm sure some people might appreciate the option to install a steam copy, it just shouldn't be forced down your throat).

          DRM definitely shouldn't be included in retail copies

          Tell that to EA, Ubisoft, Rockstar, Activision etc.. They all think you should use at least one form of DRM if not two if they decide to make the retail copy Steamworks..

        You could see as a form of DRM, or it could be that the developers wanted to utilise the Steam network to push out updates to the game rather than build their own network of patch servers.
        Pretty sure it would have said on the box that Steam would be required alongside the minimum specs, so shouldn't have been a surprise.

        it's also a pain that you buy a game on DVD only for it to install (or patch) 100% of the game through steam. i buy games on dvd to SAVE bandwidth.

          Except that's no different whether a game uses Steam or not.... All the other DRM platforms do the same thing

    Obligatory oh yeah, i'll make my own digital distribution platform... with blackjack and hookers.

    Isn't it good to have a lot of games on Steam, even if some of them aren't very good?

      No. It means it's harder to find good games.

        With some of the things that show up in my "Recommended" queue, I'd be worried if the people deciding that line-up got to decide what games should even be allowed on Steam.

        It's hard to scroll down to the reviews.

          It's hard to do it 1,000 times whenever you want to find a game to play. And you've got to admit the Steam reviews aren't the most reliable. How many people rate Dragon Age negatively without mentioning that the reason they think it sucks is because it's not a military FPS? How many reviews are just bored people trying to be funny? Personally I'd rather go to Google and find proper reviews of the game.

      It's the Nintendo Wii problem. You can't run a store for long when the awful games outnumber the good by ten thousand to one. Nintendo sold a ton of Mario Kart, Mario Galaxy, etc, but everyone who made just a good, solid, enjoyable Wii game got screwed by their inability to be heard over the millions of people scrambling to throw any piece of junk on a shelf with the Wii logo so they could get rich quick.
      One of the most successful consoles in history was effectively dead after a few years because it was near impossible to find anything other than the few games per year Nintendo released that wasn't a total rip-off. It still made money for a long time because it takes time for the idea that you're throwing your money down the drain buying a Wii to really sink in with a crowd that doesn't keep up with gaming, but it wasn't sustainable long term.
      With Steam it's a little different. There's no real competition or alternative. If Steam collapses it's going to crush PC gaming on it's way down. Obviously it won't kill it, but I would imagine it would bring in a new age of terrible ports and bonehead DRM (say what you will about Steam's DRM methods, at least it's relatively consistent and doesn't always launch broken). The indie games that PC gaming is famous for will probably be hit hardest.

      On top of that the purpose of Early Access and Green Light is to make it so that good games can get onto Steam without having to go through the early phase of being just another result on Google that could be either a great game or a malware riddled slab of garbage. It was designed to be a shortcut to help the little guy get a break but in the process of creating a shortcut they also killed the filter that controlled quality.
      At this point I would feel more confident giving my money to a stranger on a random website. I feel like the number of people on Green Light/Early Access who are interested in making a game is completely dwarfed by the number of people looking to get in the spotlight for 30 minutes, gather as much money as they can, then cash out.

        I agree with your Wii analogy 100%. Long live The Conduit!

    Steam is a store, I would rather have shit games on steam and not buy them, then not have access to shit games when I wanted to buy them. I think all this Steam hate is misguided shit game hate. People got fucked over, developer doesn't care they can't hold anyone accountable so they blame the store.

    The picture of big rigs amuses me. Wasn't that a physical release that got into stores?

    Heck, I think a lot of gamers have been spoiled by walled gardens like steam. Because back in the 80s and early to mid 90s, there were a hell of a lot of bad games that got into stores, and from what some older game reviewers have said that buying games that did not have a review was basically a gamble as to whether or not you got something that was even remotely decent.

    While I agree that Steam has basically become the Apple/Google app store of the PC world, unless Hardcastle is some Digital Saviour, his packing up and starting his own little Mom and Pop store in between the monolithic corporations isn't going to change anything. Everyone is aware of the problem, but until someone comes up with a silver bullet for the problem of providing a digital storefront that both strongly curates its games and allows the smaller developers to release their niche games, this is about the best we have.

    Steam has started doing some decent damage to the PC platform with their operational methods yes.
    It must be struck down a bit before it starts getting truly arrogant and thinking it owns the platform, paving the way for further and possibly unrepairable damage to the platform.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to take up the role of quality control with his curation page?

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