Valve released Steam into the world in 2002, during the beta phase of Counter-Strike 1.6. When it initially released, the primary function of Steam was to allow Valve to easily patch and update their games as it became a bit of a pain in the past. When Counter-Strike launched in 2004, Valve started to negotiate with a number of publishers and indie developers to release their products on Steam, thus creating the store front we have today. The first game to ever require the Steam installed was Half Life 2. It took until 2005 until third party games began showing up on Steam, before then it was only Valve’s games. Jump forward to 2007 and some bigger names had turned up to the party, with Eidos Interactive and Capcom starting to put their products on Steam.
When you think at how small Steam started out as thirteen years ago, it’s hard to imagine just how big the platform is today. The store as it stands at the time of writing this article has over 12,500 games/pieces of software on it. I’ll let that sink in for a minute, over eleven thousand games. Let’s compare that to the consoles:
- Xbox One - 992
- Xbox360 - 1173
- Xbox - 1045
- Playstation 4 - 1295
- Playstation 3 - 1026
- Playstation 2 - 3874
- Wii - 1653
- WiiU - 722
- 3DS - 993
These figures come up to 12,773 which is only just higher than Steam, and this includes consoles which came out three years prior to Steam. It is just mind boggling Steam has almost more games than all three of these console platforms after such a short span of time. Now this isn’t me saying “OH YES PC HAS ALL THE GAMES #PCMASTERRACE” in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In 2016, there were 4672 games release on Steam, that’s around 389 a month. A MONTH. Just this year PC has had more games than the PS2 has ever had in it’s entire lifespan. Now, lots of games isn’t a necessarily a bad thing, not at all. But just how many of these 4672 games that have come out, are anything close to being a decent product.
The amount of games being released on Steam is growing by a astronomical amount year on year, just look at the numbers
- 2016 - 4672
- 2015 - 2976
- 2014 - 1767
- 2013 - 564
- 2012 - 379
- 2011 - 283
- 2010 - 276
- 2009 - 356
- 2008 - 183
- 2007 - 112
- 2006 - 71
- 2005 - 6
- 2004 - 7
How many times have you gone onto the Steam front page to try find a new game to try out and you are just showered with asset flips, unity engine knock-offs and just downright awfully produced games? Partly the reason behind there being so many of these games on Steam is from the flawed Greenlight system in place. When Valve announced Greenlight, it was supposed to be away for the community to have a say in what got a place on the store, but it has slowly turned into a corrupt cesspool of meme-tastic games that do not deserve a place on a storefront such as Steam. I’ve just loaded up Greenlight, and the first game that came up, just sums this process up...just look at this complete mess. It looks like it has literally been made in MS Paint, I know 6 year olds that could do a better job than this…
Next one down, oh for the love of…this litterally a screenshot off a tablet. A game which is blatantly copying Flappy Bird (I know...there are hundreds of them on iOS but that’s a story for another day), but c’mon...
Yes, the community gets to vote up, or vote down games on Greenlight to decide whether they appear on the store at some point, but shady developers have begun taking advantage of this system, and quite frankly I am surprised it has taken until this past couple of years for it to happen. The developers of the famous, The Slaughtering Grounds, managed to get their game on Steam by running such give aways as this one below. Vote for their game on Greenlight and you could win another game! When Steam has as many users as it does have, you are bound to get your fair share of votes this way….
Another way these lower quality games are even garnering any sort of sales, is by releasing the game for a couple of pennies, then chucking in Steam Trading Cards, which in turn allow the buyer to make money themselves by selling them on the Market place, which in itself is not exactly ilegal, but seriously? Is this what we want Steam to become?
We all know about Valve’s standoff-ish approach to Steam, they pretty much want it running off algorithms, systems and processes with as little human interaction as possible, but it is showing that these systems have flaws and something needs to be done.
In recent weeks, Steam has revamped their storefront to try and combat the sheer amount of games you see on the front page, by adding in filters, different tabs and removing a few UI features, but surely, they know it's a problem but this is basically just covering up the problem rather than fixing it.
There really needs to be some form of middle ground for Steam to thrive as a Store front, we need some form of quality control being introduced to remove the stolen, broken and downright awful games from the store. Obviously opinions are subjective, but having games with missing executable files, and stolen assets bare now place being released on Steam. Valve did introduce the curation system a few years ago, but have done nothing with it since, and there is hardly any big name curators out there which actively update their lists very often.
I can only imagine what is on the horizon for 2017, if the trends are anything to go by, we are looking at probably another 6000 or 7000 games being released next year, and probably a good portion of those games are going to be garbage which should not be on this store page. Look at big retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy, Tesco, John Lewis, Toys’R’Us. They are all big named companies which house products produced by other companies, but they all have gone through some sort of quality control in order to get onto their shelves haven’t they? Oh and if by some chance it gets reported that a product they are selling doesn’t work, or is just not good, guess what happens? It comes off the shelves and isn’t sold again until it is fixed or in a condition to be sold again. This is the mindset Valve need to take with Steam.
I am usually part of the camp cheering on the PC platform as it has so many advantages over the console platforms, but I have to say I am jealous of the fact that at least the consoles get the majority of games that work, are not stolen or just asset flipped releases, they go through a rigorous quality check before getting onto the PlayStation Network, or Xbox Store. Consumers know what they are getting there at least.
Sadly I do not see Valve or Steam changing it’s ways for the foreseeable future, so people will have to rely on sites such as Enthusiast.gg, YouTubers and other review sites to know what games are worth their time, rather than being able to safely go into a store and actually see reasonable quality games to buy.