Last week I reported on a Steam curator group called Scam Report, which sought to out sketchy games and douchey developers. Since then, there have been some big changes.
First and foremost, they abandoned the old group entirely and made a new one so that they could change the name from Scam Report to Anti-Consumer Practice Report. Drastically less catchy, but perhaps more accurate. The group's head (and sole curator), Brian "timsandtoms" Pylant, explained to me in an email:
"[Scam Report] was the first available name I came up with, and the first few reviews I had lined up were, at least in my opinion, flat out scams, so I didn't really think anything about it back then," he said. "As I started reviewing games for other types of shady stuff, the Scam Report name started to apply less and less. I knew I'd have to change it at some point, but I kept putting it off for later. When it started getting media attention, I realised I couldn't wait any longer to change it."
Steam curator groups cannot change their names once they're up and running, so Pylant had no choice but to uproot and hope his nearly 1,500-strong user base would follow. As of writing, ACPR has 846 members. It might not seem like an ideal situation, but what if the group made it into Steam curation's upper echelons with a name that threw everybody in the figurative slammer, even if they'd just been caught with their hand in a cookie jar? Better a switcheroo now than never.
Pylant also removed some games from his curator list, including Kentucky Route Zero, an episodic game that's released three polished episodes and a handful of free experiments — albeit with quite a bit of lag time between each new one.
"Originally [KRZ] was included because [I feel like] it's an Early Access title, but it isn't being sold as one," Pylant said. "It ended up being removed because it raised a lot of eyebrows. Enough people took issue with my stance, and I don't want people to dismiss the rest of the reviews because of KRZ's inclusion. KRZ predating the Early Access program by two months is the only reason I'm on the fence, but the review might go back up."
As for what's next, Pylant plans to continue handling the curations himself (as opposed to delegating out some of the heavy research workload to others), in part because he wants to be as precise as possible about it.
"I try to find anything relevant, then save screenshots and copy down URLs," he explained. "I have to be completely sure before I'll review a game, I don't want to accuse a company of censorship just because they did something like removed a toxic user from their forum. If there's any question about it in my mind about if a game is deserving of being on the list, I won't review it."
Pylant hopes to offer a valuable (and reliable) service — at least, until the distant day when Valve steps up and takes matters into their own hands or haptic VR hooks or whatever it is they have got over there.
"I do hope changes eventually get made so that we don't need groups like this," he admitted, "but I don't expect that to happen soon. I mean, look at the refund situation. For the past nearly seven years I've used Steam, the prevailing line of thinking has been that you get one refund, ever, and that's only if you experience technical issues, and don't mind waiting weeks for support to reply. June of this year, they finally added a way for users to refund games if they experience issues. Hell, they even made it automated! It's a HUGE step in the right direction, but it's also an example of just how long it takes Valve to step up."