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Valve to crack down on fake screenshots in Steam

The Steam gaming platform started merely as a way to distribute Valve’s games like Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress. Over time, it grew into the dominant digital delivery system for PC games. Any developer that wants to get attention for its indie project gets their games on Steam, and established publishers (mostly) are on Steam because that’s where the gamers are. To make sure it stays on top, Steam is making a change to the way games are listed. Soon, developers will only be able to use screenshots that are actually screenshots of the game.

You don’t have to look far to find a game that would be in violation of this rule. It’s not always done with malicious intent, but sometimes it is. A developer might innocently include pre-rendered images of items or characters from the game. However, the actual game probably doesn’t look that good. Then there are others who just straight up fake people out with screenshots that don’t match up with the game’s content.

This move comes suspiciously during the uproar over No Man’s Sky, a game that was heavily hyped up in the community for two years while it was still in development. The response from critics and gamers has been overwhelmingly negative (that’s actually Steam’s approximation of the mood in reviews). One of the main complaints about the game has been the way it’s promoted on Steam.

NMS-Peak

The videos and screenshots on the No Man’s Sky listing page are not even close to representative of the final game. They’re all from much earlier builds and showing creatures and planets that don’t exist in the final retail version. The demo video is even the teaser trailer from more than two years ago that got everyone all hyped up in the first place. So, any developers who were only breaking the rules a little bit probably have No Man’s Sky to blame for this.

Valve will make the rule official when the Discovery Update 2.0 goes live, which is expected to happen in a few weeks. We don’t yet know how the rule will be enforced. There probably won’t be a human evaluating every screenshot uploaded by devs. It will probably be based on user reports of deceptive behavior. At that point, a person could check and suspend a game’s listing if it is found to be using bad screens. Maybe this will prevent another No Man’s Sky-style incident.

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