This is getting ridiculous. In March of this year, I spoke with Valve business development authority Erik Johnson about Steam's dubious reputation for customer support. He did not disagree with general sentiment: Valve badly needs to step up their game.
Among other things, Johnson said:
"We think customers are right. When they say our support's bad, our initial reaction isn't to say, 'No, it's actually good. Look at all of this.' It's to say that, no, they're probably right, because they usually are when it comes to this kind of thing. We hear those complaints, and that's gonna be a big focus for us throughout the year. We have a lot of work to do there. We have to do better."
When I inquired as to exactly how Valve might go about doing that, he added: "We need to build customer support directly into Steam. We need to understand what's the most efficient way to solve customer problems. Right now we're in a state where we're doing a bunch of technical work on thinking through how does a support issue get raised, who has to see it, how do refunds get issued within Steam — we've done a poor job on all of that up to this date."
The year is nearly over, and basically none of that has happened. Accessing customer support is still a fiddly process that involves opening a web browser and creating an entire new account, and I still see multiple reports per day of people who've been waiting weeks or months to hear back from Valve on their support tickets. Cases in point:
I see posts like this on Reddit every day:
Tons of Steam forum posts like this one:
I've also gotten emails like this for months:
When Johnson told me customer support was gonna be "a big focus" for Valve throughout the year, I was hopeful. I thought we'd see tangible change, or at least an update from Valve explaining how they planned to tackle the problem — not radio silence. This doesn't bode well, given that silence has been the issue from the start. If Valve still can't do general communication about an issue near and dear to everyone's hearts (and wallets), why should we be hopeful that they will improve their day-to-day customer service communication?
That's not to completely take away from the baby steps Valve has made. I see Valve employees popping up in Steam subreddit threads a little more often these days, and it seems like their communication and responsiveness to issues in games like Counter-Strike has gotten ever so slightly better. By and large, though, basic customer service — solutions to account issues, lockdowns, fraudulent activity, etc — continues to be inexcusably poor. Even if the customer service queue is so long that Valve can't possibly handle it all in any reasonable amount of time, they could a) give people an estimate on how long they will be waiting and keep them in the loop with regular updates or b) hire some more fucking people.
It's October. We've been waiting for a promised something for months — and a nebulous anything at all for more months before that. Come on, Valve. Talk to us.