In an apparent ongoing battle to hide every unknown new game released on Steam, overnight Valve have updated the Steam store to make it far, far harder to just see a list of new releases on the platform.
As we’ve discussed many times before, as recently as yesterday, unknown games have an incredibly hard time receiving any visibility in Steam’s crazed daily churn of 20 to 30 new releases. Big names, or those that see instant sales, get promoted to the big boxes on the front page, but smaller games are relegated to a hidden list that just became a whole lot more hidden.
Valve’s ardent belief is that customers don’t want to see what’s available, they want algorithms to curate a bespoke store for them, showing only what the maths thinks they’ll like. That’s a system that a) needs a working algorithm, and Steam’s is wonky as all hell, and b) ensures people only ever see more of the same. While I’ve certainly seen games I’m interested in on my Recommended list (amongst its batshit belief that I care about visual novels and sodding H1Z1), it definitely hasn’t listed any of the tiny little games I’ve cared about the most. Games that stand no chance on the store as it is now.
And hell, either way, why not just allow both?
Previously in Steam’s most recent incarnation, if you wanted to know what new games had been released that day, you had to scroll two screens down on the front page to the “Popular New Releases” list. Again, this excluded anything that wasn’t already selling, but there was a tiny text button beneath that said, “See All New Releases”. Click on that, and then check the tick box next to “Games” in the right column to remove the films, apps and mostly DLC that dominate the list (if you think I’m exaggerating, check the screens below), and you would finally get to see that day’s new games. (Until you click on one, click back, and one of Steam’s many bugs would see the list changed to one from days ago.) But now that comparable convenience has been taken into a back alley and kicked to death.
Now the process is this:
Scroll two screens down on the front page to the buried list of Popular New Releases (or guess which of the text links marked “New Releases” is actually real)
Click on “See more: New Releases”
Scroll a full screen down to see a list of “Popular New Releases”
Click the tab for “New Releases”
Scroll down and click on “See more: All New Releases”
Tick the “Games” tab on the right side to remove the DLC, apps, films, etc
And finally you can see what’s there
It’s impossible to know if this recent change is deliberate design to prevent people finding games, inept randomness, contempt, or what, but it utterly beggars belief that an already ghastly design has been made so stunningly worse. This sucks for developers, but it deeply sucks for consumers too – there are great games getting released that you would LOVE to know and pay for, but you just won’t ever hear about them.
Something as simple and obvious as, “Here’s a list of new games released today” should be a whacking great button right on the top of the front of the store, but it’s now buried deep beneath where it was previously already buried, a labyrinthine route to get something so plainly obviously necessary. That they should have gone out of their way to make this so much more difficult is demonstrative that something is deeply wrong with the thinking of how the store works, and increasingly a bad place for developers to release their games when rivals like Itch.io, Humble and GOG do a far fairer job.
Valve, please, for goodness sakes just give us a direct link to the All New Releases from the top of the front page. Give small developers a fighting chance, and keen customers the place to find the games they want.