Valve wants to raise the bar for developers who want to publish their games at Steam. In order to pass evaluation and start selling at the popular digital distribution platform, they will now have to use in-game screenshots instead of concept arts or pre-rendered stills.
The new policy will start to take effect with the implementation of the Discovery Update 2.0. It is widely expected to rollout in the middle of November, days after Steam's Halloween Sale.
This latest news was only leaked after a member of the Facepunch forum posted a memo circulated by Valve to its developers, citing the change in policy. The forum member who called himself sanjuaro claimed to have previously interned at a game publisher so he had access to the Valve missive. If this information is true, then Valve seems really serious on cracking down misleading store pages at Steam.
"We ask that any images you upload to the 'screenshot' section of your store page should be screenshots that show your game," the leaked post addressing developers said. "Please show customers what your game is actually like to play."
Dota 2 was singled out in the statement as an example of a game with store images that violate the new guideline. Valve's statement said that it was working with the game's developers to rectify the situation. As of this writing, Dota 2's Steam page now only showed gameplay videos and actual screenshots.
The new screenshot rule should be a boon to gamers who tend to fall prey to spectacular promotional images only to find subpar graphics in actual gameplay. Developers of No Man's Sky is currently under official investigation in the United Kingdom after fans complained about its misleading Steam Store page.
The key takeaway in Valve's latest move is the emergence of a strictly fair platform that keeps developers honest. Recently, the company also pulled out Digital Homicide's games after it sued Steam users who left unfavorable reviews on The Slaughtering Grounds title.
Aside from the image restriction, Discovery Update 2.0 was also revealed to include a Steam homepage refresh, which entails the introduction of different game image layout. This will potentially favor bigger graphics and the elimination of visual clutter. New releases will also get a dedicated section, along with a promise for more prominent visibility to allow new titles an opportunity to reach broader audience as soon as possible.
Steam is also increasing Curator presence, which means that the gamers' main Steam page will be populated with more diverse title recommendations. Of course, this largely depends on the Curators that the gamers follow.
Presently, Valve is still mum about the leak. So there is still no way to determine what are the penalties for existing games that violate the screenshot rule.