Black Friday-Smiday, this weekend’s all about the Steam Autumn sale, don’t you know? Yep, it’s that time of year again when we all spend way too much on games we’ll probably never play, but hey, at least we got a good saving in the process.
Valve are making more changes to Steam reviews in response to a different kind of review manipulation. This time the changes are to how Steam decides which user reviews are most helpful, and to make the user reviews that are displayed on Steam’s homepage representative of its overall review score. This is on top of changes made back in September designed to reduce the impact of organised “review bombing” campaigns.
RPS Feature A welcome reprieve from AAA
Welcome back to Unknown Pleasures, a weekly column wherein I recommended five new Steam games released during the past seven days, and which you probably haven’t heard of already.
This week: what-if GTA, mental health Metroidvanias and Neverending Story dragonflight simulators.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature 5 hidden gems
With Halloween fast approaching, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about typical spooky things: ghouls and ghosts, vampires and werewolves, marrying off my daughter to an appropriate suitor and the best trade strategy to dominate the Aegean. The Steam Halloween Sale is in full swing until November 1, and thanks to Paradox Interactive, it’s full of grand strategy games.
RPS Feature Love and dungeons
Welcome back to Unknown Pleasures, our weekly digest of hidden gems embedded into the vast mountain of new Steam releases over the past seven days.
This week: praying mantises gettin’ it on, 80s neon puzzling, obscure Russian Doom clones and the shmup where every enemy is your own past.
Valve has been quietly working on the Steam Curators system – the swarm of publications and people that recommend games to users – and they are poised to roll out a significant update. It includes video reviews, customisation options, analytics and a new feature that will make it easier for developers to connect with curators. It’s entering closed beta today.
Can’t think of a decent birthday present for that sort-of-but-not-really friend or distant family member? Don’t worry: Steam has your back. Instead of just giving them some cash that they’ll probably spend on a game anyway, why not show that you care — but not too much — by picking up a digital gift card from Steam? They’re available now, if you’re willing to jump through some hoops.
Octemberweenmas is the most magical time of the year, filled with skeletons, imported turkeys and jolly fat men in chimneys. For us videogame-appreciating sorts, it’s also the season for dark forces to align and savagely maul our wallets until there is nothing left but tattered receipts, regrets and a swelling backlog of games to play.
At least this year we’ve been forewarned. Through a combination of dates leaked on reddit and journalists poking developers, we now have dates for Steam’s upcoming Halloween, Black Friday/Thanksgiving and Winter Holiday sales.
RPS Feature Cracking the Steam Discovery feed
In the space of a half-hour conversation, Adam Nickerson, aka Nickervision Studios, uses a variant of the phrase ‘I don’t know really how to make videogames’ at least half a dozen times. Yet he’s managed to singlehandedly sell half a million copies of his games on PC.
You’ve probably never heard of Bit Blaster XL, for example, but it’s shifted 260,000 copies on Steam. He developed it solo, in just two weeks. Its follow-up, on course to be equally successful, was developed in 75 hours.
How did he do it? He figured out exactly how to get noticed on Steam during this time of seemingly ceaseless new releases – a time that has destroyed the hopes and dreams of many other small developers. Read the rest of this entry »
Somehow, our lad Geralt’s video game adventures have turned ten years old this week. That’s ten years of slaying monsters as the silver fox with cat-eyes. Ten years of werewolves, dragons, unicorns, romances and politics, usually all at the same time. Ten years of articles debating how much sex in a video game constitutes too much.
To celebrate the series’ tenth anniversary, you can pick up all the games in the franchise (as well as the various bits of DLC) with some hefty discounts this week. These offers are available at GOG if you like your games DRM-free, Humble if you’d like to kick a few pennies towards charity while you buy or Steam, if you like to keep things as simple as possible.
RPS Feature Our weekly trawl for lost treasure
Welcome back to Unknown Pleasures. Each week, we wade through the chin-deep river of new Steam releases to find five hidden gems that otherwise would have passed most of us by.
This week: Hadoukens & cherry blossoms, a The Flash game without The Flash, sinister bureaucracy and extremely charming elephants. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Three to one
The Orange Box is one of the strangest quirks of gaming history. Never before had a developer released three brand new, entirely separate games at the same time in one package, and thanks to digital distribution, it probably won’t happen again. What makes The Orange Box truly remarkable though is that it contained two of the most-anticipated games of 2007, and what proved to be the biggest surprise hit of the year (some might argue ever).
RPS Feature Diamonds in the rough
RPS Feature Our favourite five
RPS Feature 5 of the overlooked best
All social problems can be solved by data, any naive tech company can tell you, which is why Valve are attempting to solve Steam ‘review bombing’ by adding graphs to its player reviews. Review bombing is the practice of players organising to leave negative reviews that drive down a game’s rating in an attempt to punish or manipulate developers by damaging their future sales prospects. Games bombed over the past month range from Firewatch to Grand Theft Auto V. This is a known and old problem with Steam’s reviews, and one Valve aren’t happy with. So, to counterattack disproportionate bursts of negative reviews, Valve have added unusual activity warnings to Steam store pages with histograms tracking reviews over time. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian government has blocked access to the whole Steam store in an attempt to ban Fight of Gods [Steam page], a new fighting game where deities from Jesus to Odin punch each other in the face. The game is a threat to the “solidarity, harmony and wellbeing of the multi-racial and multi-religious people in the country”, an official said.
The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission yesterday issued a 24-hour ultimatum demanding that Steam’s operator, Valve, block users in Malaysia from downloading the game. After that passed and the game was still available, they ordered ISPs to block the site. Steamers in Malaysia are unable to access the store, though playing Steam games still seems to work – and the block can be bypassed. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Cool things cool people might have missed