Valve Clarifies its Change to Developer Steam Key Requests

Posted on 18 Aug 2017 by
L Coulsen

Contrary to what some may have been thinking (and doubtless, some still will) the recent kerfuffle about changing the way developers can request keys for their own games is not about reselling. Our colleagues at Gamasutra report that they spoke to a Valve representative who gave the following clarification:

“Steam keys have always been available for free to our partners to help them sell PC games at physical retail and on other digital stores. In return, we’ve asked that partners offer Steam customers a fair deal, similar to what they’re offering on other stores. None of that is changing.

But over the last few years, new features and additions to Steam have changed the way Steam keys were being used, for instance as a means for game-shaped objects to monetize on Steam through methods other than actually selling fun games to customers. Most notably, this meant farming Steam Trading Cards. We shared a lot of info about that issue, and our response to it, here.

While our changes did impact the economics of trading card farming for new products coming to Steam, there are still a lot of games and game-shaped objects using Steam keys as a way to manipulate Steam systems. As a result, we’re trying to look more closely at extreme examples of products on Steam that don’t seem to be providing actual value as playable games-for instance, when a game has sold 100 units, has mostly negative reviews, but requests 500,000 Steam keys. We’re not interested in supporting trading card farming or bot networks at the expense of being able to provide value and service for players.  

It’s completely OK for partners to sell their games on other sites via Steam keys, and run discounts or bundles on other stores, and we’ll continue granting free keys to help partners do those things. But it’s not OK to negatively impact our customers by manipulating our store and features.”

This is something we’ve touched on in the past, as it was mentioned during the recent slew of update blogs about the future of Steam. Steam trading cards are a lucrative little money maker, often only pennies at a time, yes. But if you have access to a million Steam keys, and have enough determination…yes, there really are some people who are that scummy. Sad, but true. Honestly, I’m all on board with this, because it helps combat the people who are making absolute wank deliberately to get that YouTube niche. But hey, what do I know?

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