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Steam stepping back from selling films

Steam’s experiment in selling plain ol’ non-games-related films, shows, and videos is ending, as Valve say they’re refocusing on, y’know, stuff to do with video games. Which is no surprise, because games are why people use Steam. They’ve removed the ‘Video’ section from the Steam Store menu and plan to stop selling a number of non-games vids, though folks who bought them will still be able to watch and download them. I’m thankful because this means an end to me getting excited reading descriptions of new Steam releases with fresh and interesting premises then being disappointed when I realise they’re films.

“In reviewing what Steam users actually watch, it became clear we should focus our effort on offering content that is either directly related to gaming or, is accessory content for games or software sold on Steam,” Valve said in yesterday’s announcement.

So they’re phasing the other stuff out. Perhaps not entirely, as they’re a little hazy on specifics, but definitely moving away from it. Valve have removed the Video section from the Store’s menu, and say that “a number of non-gaming videos” will be pulled from sale “over the coming weeks.”

With gaming vids, Valve say they have “an expectation that video content is discovered via the associated game or software store page, or through search, user tags, recommendations, etc.”

Valve’s first foray into selling video was with Indie Game: The Movie in 2012. They started to open up a lot more with indie flicks in 2015 then Hollywood blockbusters followed. Steam now lists over one thousand videos for sale or rental, including Mad Max: Fury Road, Yuri On Ice, La La Land, The Cabin In The Woods, The Hunger Games, Orange Is The New Black, and Leprechaun 4: In Space.

Steam’s video store never seemed to really take off, which is no surprise. The Steam video player is finnicky and irritating, the image quality can be bad, and who thinks “I’ll check Steam” when they want to watch Orange Is The New Black? Steam may be the first store many people hit for games, but I can’t imagine anyone did that for video. It’s an also-ran when there are so many places and ways to buy and watch video online with deeper catalogues, lower prices, and higher quality.

Rival store GOG started selling videos in 2014 but its selection has stayed small and focused on games and “nerd culture.”

The lack of awareness and interest in Steam’s video store was best captured, inadvertently, by Steam user “leo2506” in a review of Mad Max: Fury Road.

“Lol..Purchased this video by Mistake. Thinking it was a DLC to Mad Max the game. Very entertaining. What can i say…lol”

Mad Max: Fury Road is indeed very entertaining. And furthermore, lol.

This move makes sense, and it’s good to see Valve focus on what Steam’s good at rather trying to do everything just because they can. They gave it a crack, it didn’t work out, they’re giving up. With many hoping that Epic Games flashing megabucks to secure big exclusives for their new store might shake Valve out of their complacency, this is a teeny step in the right direction.

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Alice O'Connor

News Editor

When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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