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Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Subsequent to this patch, games must reach some type of confidence factor based on actual playtime before they can generate trading cards, with players credited for their time played towards receiving trading cards before this metric is met. Valve plans to use the same approach and algorithms to identify these types of games, limiting these games to only one thousand total achievements and discounting these achievements towards a user’s statistics.
Other actions taken by developers against the terms of service or other policies have prompted Valve to remove games. Valve has also removed or threatened to remove games due to inappropriate or mature content, though there was often confusion as to what material qualified for this, such as a number of mature, but non-pornographic visual novels being threatened.
For example, Eek Games’ House Party included scenes of nudity and sexual encounters in its original release, which drew criticism from conservative religious organization National Center on Sexual Exploitation , leading Valve to remove the title from the service.
Eek Games were later able to satisfy Valve’s standards by including censor bars within the game and allowing the game to be readded to Steam, though offered a patch on their website to remove the bars.
However, Valve later rescinded its orders, allowing these games to remain and telling the developers Valve would re-evaluate the games and inform them of any content that would need to be changed or removed. In June , Valve clarified its policy on content, taking a more hands-off approach rather than deem what content is inappropriate, outside of illegal material. Rather than trying to make decisions themselves on what content is appropriate, Valve enhanced its filtering system to allow developers and publishers to indicate and justify the types of mature content including violence, nudity, and sexual content in their games.
Users can block games that are marked with this type of content from appearing in the store, and if they have not blocked it, they are presented with the description given by the developer or publisher before they can continue to the store page. Developers and publishers with existing games on Steam have been strongly encouraged to complete these forms for these games, while Valve will use moderators to make sure new games are appropriately marked.
Until these tools were in place, some adult-themed games were delayed for release. Dharker noted that in discussions with Valve that they would be liable for any content-related fines or penalties that countries may place on Valve, a clause of their publishing contract for Steam, and took steps to restrict sale of the game in over 20 regions.
In March , Valve faced pressure over Rape Day , a planned game described as being a dark comedy and power fantasy where the player would control a serial rapist in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Journalists questioned how the hands-off approach would handle this case; Valve ultimately decided against offering the game on Steam, arguing that while it “[respects] developers’ desire to express themselves”, there were “costs and risks” associated with the game’s content, and the developers had “chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them [find an audience]”.
Steam originally released exclusively for Microsoft Windows in , but has since been ported to other platforms. Steam on Windows also relies on some security features built into later versions of Windows.
Steam support for XP and Vista were dropped in While users still on those operating systems are able to use the client, they do not have access to newer features. Around only 0. Steam for Mac OS X was originally planned for release in April ; but was pushed back to May 12, , following a beta period. In addition to the Steam client, several features were made available to developers, allowing them to take advantage of the cross-platform Source engine, and platform and network capabilities using Steamworks.
Some third-party games may require the user to re-purchase them to gain access to the cross-platform functionality. Valve announced in July that it was developing a Steam client for Linux and modifying the Source engine to work natively on Linux, based on the Ubuntu distribution. The team developing the Linux client had been working for a year before the announcement to validate that such a port would be possible. From there, it began working on porting other games to Ubuntu and expanding to other Linux distributions.
In August , Valve released a beta version of Proton , an open-source Windows compatibility layer for Linux, so that Linux users could run Windows games directly through Steam for Linux, removing the need to install the Windows version of Steam in Wine.
The software allows the use of Steam-supported controllers, even those not compatible with Windows. This included working with various anti-cheat developers such as Easy Anti-Cheat and BattlEye to make sure their solutions worked with Proton.
Support for Nvidia ‘s proprietary deep learning super sampling DLSS on supported video cards and games was added to Proton in June , though this will not be available on the Steam Deck which is based on AMD hardware. It would provide automatic updates, community support, downloadable content and other unannounced features. Several features—including cross-platform play and instant messaging , Steam Cloud for saved games, and the ability for PS3 owners to download Portal 2 from Steam Windows and Mac at no extra cost—were offered.
The Xbox does not have support for Steamworks. Newell said that they would have liked to bring the service to the console through the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive , which would have allowed Valve to provide the same feature set that it did for the PlayStation 3,  but later said that cross-platform play would not be present in the final version of the game.
Valve’s Erik Johnson stated that Microsoft required new content on the console to be certified and validated before distribution, which would limit the usefulness of Steamworks’ delivery approach. Valve released an official Steam client for iOS and Android devices in late January , following a short beta period. The application also incorporates a two-factor authentication system that works with Steam Guard, further enhancing the security of a user’s account. Newell stated that the application was a strong request from Steam users and sees it as a means “to make [Steam] richer and more accessible for everyone”.
On May 14, , a “Steam Link” app with remote play features was released in beta to allow users to stream games to Android phones, named after discontinued set-top box Steam Link. Prior to , industry analysts believed that Valve was developing hardware and tuning features of Steam with apparent use on its own hardware. These computers were pre-emptively dubbed as “Steam Boxes” by the gaming community and expected to be a dedicated machine focused upon Steam functionality and maintaining the core functionality of a traditional video game console.
That was discontinued in , but now “Steam Link” refers to the Remote Play mobile app that allows users to stream content, such as games, from a PC to a mobile device over a network.
Valve released the Steam Deck , a handheld gaming computer running an updated version of SteamOS , with initial shipments starting on February 25, In March , Google offered a prerelease version of Steam on Chromebooks. Valve included beta support for Steam Cloud Play in May for developers to allow users to play games in their library which developers and publishers have opted to allow in a cloud gaming service.
At launch, Steam Cloud Play only worked through Nvidia’s GeForce Now service and would link up to other cloud services in the future though whether Valve would run its own cloud gaming service was unclear. China has strict regulations on video games and Internet use ; however, access to Steam is allowed through China’s governmental firewalls.
Currently, a large portion of Steam users are from China. Following a Chinese government-ordered temporary block of many of Steam’s functions in December ,  Valve and Perfect World announced they would help to provide an officially sanctioned version of Steam that meets Chinese Internet requirements. Perfect World has worked with Valve before to help bring Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to the country through approved government processes.
It was made to comply with China’s strict regulations on video games , featuring only those that have passed approval by their government. On 25 December , reports emerged that Steam’s global service was the target of a domain name system attack that prevented users in China from accessing its site. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology MIIT later confirmed that Chinese gamers would no longer be able to use Steam’s global service as its international domain name has been designated as “illegal” due to “illicit activities” which were unspecified.
The block has effectively locked all Chinese users out of games they had purchased through Steam’s international service, and that they would only be able to go through Steam’s China-specific application. Valve reported that there were million active accounts on Steam by the end of Valve also considers the concurrent user count a key indicator of the success of the platform, reflecting how many accounts were logged into Steam at the same time.
By August , Valve reported that they saw a peak of 14 million concurrent players, up from 8. Steam has grown from seven games in to over 30, by , with additional non-gaming products, such as creation software, DLC, and videos, numbering over 20, Though Steam provides direct sales data to a game’s developer and publisher, it does not provide any public sales data or provide such data to third-party sales groups like NPD Group.
In , Valve’s Jason Holtman stated that the company felt that such sales data was outdated for a digital market, since such data, used in aggregate from other sources, could lead to inaccurate conclusions.
Developers and publishers have expressed the need to have some metrics of sales for games on Steam, as this allows them to judge the potential success of a title by reviewing how similar games had performed.
This led to the creation of algorithms that worked on publicly available data through user profiles to estimate sales data with some accuracy, which led to the creation of the website Steam Spy in The change broke the method Steam Spy had collected data, rendering it unusable.
Some have asserted that Valve used the GDPR change as a means to block methods of estimating sales data,  though Valve has since promised to provide tools to developers to help gain such insights that they say will be more accurate than Steam Spy was. Steam’s customer service has been highly criticized, with users citing poor response times or lack of response in regards to problems such as being locked out of one’s library or having a non-working game redemption key.
In March , Valve had been given a failing “F” grade from the Better Business Bureau due to a large number of complaints in Valve’s handling of Steam, leading Valve’s Erik Johnson to state that “we don’t feel like our customer service support is where it needs to be right now”. Of those, requests for refunds were the largest segment, and which Valve could resolve within hours, followed by account security and recovery requests. Greenlight expanded this to about 70 per week, and which doubled to per week following the introduction of Direct.
Following the launch of Steam Direct, allowing games to be published without Valve’s curation, members of the video game industry were split on Valve’s hands-off approach. Some praised Valve in favoring to avoid trying to be a moral adjudicator of content and letting consumers decide what content they want to see, while others felt that this would encourage some developers to publish games on Steam that are purposely hateful or degenerate of some social classes, like LGBTQ , and that Valve’s reliance on user filters and algorithms may not succeed in blocking undesirable content from certain users.
Some further criticized the decision based on the financial gain from avoid blocking any game content, as Valve collects a cut from sales through Steam.
Steam was estimated to have the largest share in the PC digital distribution market in the s. Competitors emerged with Games for Windows — Live in and Impulse in , both of which were shut down in and , respectively.
They purported that having such a percentage of the overall market can be detrimental to the industry and that sector competition would yield positive results for consumers. Because of Valve’s oversight of sales data, estimates of how much of a market share Steam has in the video game market is difficult to compile.
Steam’s predominance in the gaming market has led to Valve becoming involved in various legal cases. In December , the French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir initiated a lawsuit against Valve for several of their Steam policies that conflict or run afoul of French law, including the restriction against reselling of purchased games , which is legal in the European Union.
The decision is primarily based on the court’s findings that Steam sells licenses to software titles, despite Valve’s claim that they were selling subscriptions, which are not covered by the Directives. The company stated that it would appeal the decision. In August , BT Group filed a lawsuit against Valve stating that Steam’s client infringes on four of their patents, which they stated were used within Steam’s Library, Chat, Messaging, and Broadcasting services.
In , the European Commission began investigating Valve and five other publishers— Bandai Namco Entertainment , Capcom , Focus Home Interactive , Koch Media and ZeniMax Media —for anti-competitive practices, specifically the use of geo-blocking through the Steam storefront and Steam product keys to prevent access to software to citizens of certain countries within the European Economic Area. A January class-action lawsuit filed against Valve asserted that the company forced developers into entering a ” most favored nation “-type of pricing contract to offer games on their storefront, which required the developers to price their games the same on other platforms as they did on Steam, thus stifling competition.
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