Valve Overhauls Steam Game Testing

Valve is to take extra steps to reduce the visibility of shoddy Steam games while making sure good ones don’t get drowned out. It’s going to recruit players to check out submissions and dig out the hidden gems.

The program was detailed in videos from gaming YouTubers Jim Sterling and John Bain (aka TotalBiscuit) who recently visited Valve’s HQ to discuss the program. They say Valve used the term “fake games”, which is somewhat misleading as there’s no counterfeiting involved and instead they are simply referring to very low quality games from developers hoping to cash in before word gets around that they suck. The fakery was more people producing derivative games with tiredly familiar themes.

Valve has already ditched Greenlight, a program that allowed open submissions with users then voting on games. The problem was the absence of a barrier of entry made it difficult to wade through the sheer quantity of dreck.

The new Explorers program will allow players to sign up to volunteer to try out games from a list of poor sellers and then rate them. There’ll be a series of perks such as badges and a unique forum. The ‘Explorers’ will have to pay for the games they test, which may deter some from taking part, but will perhaps more accurately reflect the disappointment or delight a normal customer would have. As a concession, the testers will be allowed one no-questions-asked refund each week.

Other changes in the works include Valve revealing more details about the way it decides which games to include in each user’s customized discovery queue, and making it easier for individual users to share lists of games such as a top ten recommended titles.