Steam is changing. Towards the end of last year Valve altered the way in which its digital marketplace recommended games to its users and well, the feedback was mixed.
The top thread on the Gamedev subreddit yesterday, for example, was titled: Steam Discovery 2.0 - Devs how you holding up?
"It's a complete disaster," writes one developer, whose VR games are no longer receiving the same amount of promotion from Steam upon release. Valve offers some amount of free marketing when a game is released. In this developer's case, the numbers are apparently way, way down.
"I'm doing just fine, in fact," argued Raymond Doerr, the developer of Rise to Ruins. "My sales have been slowly increasing since Discovery 1.0, and are higher now with 2.0.
"I don't think Steam is burying lesser known developers, they're burying developers with perceived lesser quality due to wishlists, sales, concurrent players, etc."
Really, this is the big problem facing Valve: different people expect different things from its platform.
"And ultimately, that is why the Steam Store is a design challenge," explained Valve's Robin Walker in a recent blog post. "We could make the problem a lot simpler by choosing to ignore some set of players or developers, but we think there are already stores that have chosen to do that, and it's much more interesting to try and figure out how to build a single store that works for everyone."
In the short-term, Valve has decided to make its recommendation algorithm more transparent. If you use Steam today, you'll see it now explains why a game has been recommended to you, citing reasons such as user reviews, similar games you've played, curator recommendations and whether your friends own the game already, or have it on their wishlists.
As well as giving you a better idea of what to expect from the game in question, the intention here is to ensure that if the store recommends something you don't want to play, you'll know why that's happened, too.
Over the coming weeks, Valve intends to publish a couple more blog posts focusing on how the Steam Store has been exploited in the past and what developers can expect from the upcoming changes to publishing games with Steam Direct.