The Steam Discovery Update released in the fall of last year was a boon to indie developers who often saw their games fall by the wayside as bigger-budget titles hogged the spotlight. Now, to prevent gaming the system, Valve is requiring users to make it known if they have been paid to write a glowing review.
When Valve added Steam Curators to its Steam service, it initially did so without restrictions, though this came to an end fairly quickly. In October, the company made a change to the Steam Subscriber Agreement, requiring curators to disclose if they had accepted money or other compensation for product reviews or recommendations.
Yesterday the company updated the agreement once again, requiring the same of standard users. The passage in question reads “If you use Steam services (e.g. the Steam Curators’ Lists or the Steam Broadcasting service) to promote or endorse a product, service or event in return for any kind of consideration from a third party (including non-monetary rewards such as free games), you must clearly indicate the source of such consideration to your audience.”
As Steam transitions to a more user-driven system, these types of changes are going to become more necessary. Last month, Valve asked developers to stop giving away game keys in exchange for voting for the game in question on Steam Greenlight, saying that it put them “in a really uncomfortable position.”
With the sheer amount of games added to Steam every week, Valve is facing a challenge in keeping the quality of the games and the business practices of the developers in check. While this new policy is a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen how much of an effect it will have.