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We're also offering banner ads on our site from just $5! 1. Details HERE. 2. GDNet+ Subscriptions HERE. 3. Ad upload HERE. ### Categories (See All) This article is under review by the community - Current moderation totals: Mark as peer reviewed: 2 votes (Geometrian, Khatharr) Still needs work: 0 votes Like 13Likes Dislike # Why Games Don't Have to be Good Anymore UNDER REVIEW By Kevin Harwood | Published Aug 08 2014 07:25 PM in GameDev.net Soapbox When I was 14 my favorite game, Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, came out. I biked 10 miles to the Big Name Box store and paid$70 for the massive tombstone sized box with my new prized game inside. Nobody even knew about the game and I had to follow community blogs to even know when it was released. To me, this was the golden age of gaming.

I contrast this memory against the current massive ecosystem of games where everybody is more interested in talking about games that suck instead of games they enjoy. I believe it’s because there are a few elements working together which allow for bad games to be released and still make massive sales – and here they are; reasons why games don't have to be good anymore.

## Steam Early Access

“If you buy early access, you’re going to have a bad time”

I have nothing against Steam and nothing against people doing this, but it has single-handedly changed my perception with the gaming marketplace. When I was a teenager, it was exciting to find a bug in Pokemon but now it’s just blatant negligence.

I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, because a ton of amazing games have come out of this program, but I do wish there was more diligence on Steam’s behalf to ensure a level of quality. I’ll lump crowdfunding into this section because it’s the same principle. You’re paying for the idea behind a game rather than the game itself. The potential abuse of the system is evident in the countless refund requests that Steam users open and almost never receive.

## Open Source Engines

When I first started marketing games, the only companies to do work for were the major studios or new start ups. Now, the majority of my work are small team projects, often with the development team living in their parent's basement. There’s no problem with this, in fact, I love it! Everyone has the ability to make their own games, but at the same time... everyone has the ability to make their own games. I will confidently say this has lowered the quality of the average title launched through a digital distributor, but there still is an obvious tier of excellence in quality a large portion of games strive for.

That being said, I find roughly 90% of games on Steam or bundles have zero interest to me. So many games just reiterate an old concept and the number of studios looking to capitalize on pop genres is disturbing (zombie/survival open worlds). What blows my mind is when I talk to some of the studios who launch these crazy knock off games who have still earned millions in revenue from Steam sales alone.

## Game Marketing

It’s only now being openly revealed, but there is large dark side industry around game marketing. The latest revelations about YouTube sponsored videos have become a mainstream tactic that most games include in their launch strategy. It’s obvious that every YouTuber will get access to your game once on the market, but marketers and product managers know they only have to manage the opening reception of a game to acquire the initial onslaught of sales.

A game should speak for itself and if you have to curate who showcases your game (because you're paying those people to like it) you’re manipulating the perception of the game. I do think YouTube should be an essential part of any game’s strategy, but only through unbiased means - I wrote about this before.

This issue is further compounded by a copyright holder’s ability to pull a video which doesn’t give a favorable review of their title. Total Biscuit has already exposed the very common occurance of this happening. I won’t pretend that the majority of YouTubers ask for a paid review, but enough of them do. It’s hard to judge though – would you turn down $10,000 to play a game and make a few videos about it? ## Massive Publishers Take a think on your favorite big publisher. EA, Blizzard and Ubisoft are no longer in the business of publishing video games, but instead sequels. Once a game has been well received, the development and monetization team figure out how to milk the property dry. There’s rarely attention given to how the gameplay can experience innovation or advancement and a string of titles and transmedia merchandise burst forth onto the market. I’ve worked with some of these guys, so I won’t play innocent. The politics of gaming companies has become something fascinating as you see people with a shocking disregard for consumers brought into leadership rather than committed and passionate creative individuals. The saddest part is that the majority of the decisions I saw made while working for bigger studios were based around better earning potential rather than the consumer’s enjoyment. ## What This All Means There is a life cycle in economics where demand and supply enjoy an exciting relationship. With the video game industry entering an age of maturity we’re experiencing the shift from pull marketing to push marketing. Games used to rely on putting out marketing material like press releases, screenshots, demo disks (remember these in cereal boxes?) and maybe a cinematic. But now we have Steam sales to push volume, obscene bundles which cannibalize the perceived value of games and social media platforms urging you to join so they can propel marketing material to you. The average game can’t rely on sharing basic trailers and screenshots, but with sales teams and distribution tactics. I realize that games rely on large investment to make and require huge sale payoffs to be considered successful but the gaming industry is starting to be run by business executives rather than game makers. GameDev.net Soapbox logo design by Mark "Prinz Eugn" Simpson ## About the Author(s) I'm a videogame marketer and monetization designer. ## License GDOL (Gamedev.net Open License) Comments Maybe it's because it's all been done before. There are only so many things you can do with 3d modeled characters and we've pretty much done it all to death. None of us have as much time to sit down and play one as we used to either. The one big contributor to me is that story isn't considered important anymore. If it is, it has to bend to the wishes of the player, which is pretty much no story, so games all seem alike. The same little go-fetch sequences over and over. The obsessant upgrades. Being able to change the order or mixture of things for almost no pay back. Collecting tons of useless junk and selling it to buy more useless junk. We need less, but no one understands that, so they keep trying to give us more. @fireside: I disagree. I see plenty of interesting games being made... but I also see copious amounts of... not shovelware, but more like MyFirstGameFor$9.99-ware.

I was looking at a screenshot earlier today, and I felt slightly bad that all these beautiful looking games were coming out, and my game is still in development. I felt I was "missing the boat", then I noticed that one of the buildings in the screenshot looked familiar, and recognized it as Unity Store stock-art, and then felt alot better.

Well, I guess this is another case of personal experience.

When I was that young, most of my games were plainly horrible. Maybe it was because I simply couldn't pay the price for the big ones... In the end, the only PC games that I played were Counter Strike and Warcraft3.

I did have a Paystation though, and there were simply an army of great games there, from Breath of Fire 3 to Castlevania SotN to Klonoa to Metal Gear, but oh did it take lots of tries to find these masterpieces. Lots of horrible games in my shelves. Today I can look up a gameplay video in a matter of minutes, it is much easier to see if the game is what I expect before I actually check in.

It is a fact though, there are more corporative titles, but that is just a reflection of how much the market has grown. Yes, there's thrash, yes there are soul-less 100bucks games, and there also are famous-game-like clones, but these are not the only ones, nor are these kinds of games a new phenomenon.

There are many many more by gamers for gamers titles coming out than there has ever been though. There are two titles 'made by game makers' that I am waiting for and that are actually being developed by people I know personally and that live in my city. Who'd have thought someone from the 3rd world would ever be able to put a game on sale to the whole world?

Also, I wouldn't say the big fishes only releases sequels. I loved some games that are actually new IPs from big publishers such as Sleeping Dogs. God I could rip a nail off a finger if it would make Dying Light come out instantly. But I must admit I would also love to burn another 200h on the next The Elder Scrolls, just as I have done since their 3rd instalment.

In my view, we had great games back then and we still have great games today. But now I am anxiously waiting for the release of several titles, even though I know I won't have the time to enjoy them as I'd like to and as I used to...

While I agree with many of your points, I think that on the other hand, what we've really been offered is much, much, much more variety. Sure, many of these games aren't reinventing the wheel, but that really isn't always necessary or even wanted. Back in the day (whichever day you want to imagine), independent development was magnitudes rarer than it is today. If you wanted a game, you were generally stuck with the major publishers and a few dozen games were released each year to choose from (I don't mean to discount those independent developers of whatever time you're imagining. There's always been independent developers, many of them quite good. But, their work was more difficult to access, and they were certainly fewer and further between).

Now that the tools are available for much smaller teams of people to release a game, and the general gaming population has exploded, there is a huge influx of titles released. And, again, while I agree with much of your post, I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing. I'm not obligated in any way to buy a game that doesn't appeal to me, or one that doesn't seem particularly well done. Reviews of games are even easier to come by these days.

And, while yes, there is a lot of rehash (endless roguelikes, platformers, etc), many of these are actually quite good, and again, these days, the good ones tend to rise to the top, reputation-wise, and I've certainly spent my share of hours with them. Additionally, I think this huge influx of independent development while simultaneously releasing myriad genre games, there has also been, in my opinion, so, so much more creative reinventing of the game industry. Games that challenge our notion of what games are, games that push the boundaries within their respective genres, games that come out of nowhere with a radically new approach to things.

So, I guess in a nutshell, I agree there's a lot more "crap" these days, but along side it there is so, so so much more creativity, diversity, and just sheer volume to choose from. There are so many sides of the gaming industry that make me cringe, from cash-grab F2P, to major publishers using overpriced early-access, to the huge influx of MOBA games. I avoid these things like the plague, but the thing is, that I can avoid those, and it barely makes a dent in my range of choices. My backlog of games that I own and want to play just gets longer every day (and yes, I also have a huge backlog of games I've barely looked at, and those that were, truly, just not fun, but this is kind of my point ). Almost every day I read about a new game in development that piques my interest, or a game is released that I lament I don't have more time to dedicate to it.

And, to the points regarding questionable ethics (early access scams, or pretty much how most of the major publishers behave), I guess I just feel that that's relatively easy to avoid. Sure, it's irritating, but playing/buying those games isn't mandatory. But, I join you in the scorn. There are some truly terrible practices in the industry now, but I think they're more illustrative of capitalistic practices that plague all industries in our society. I'll decry them with you, for sure, but while they're new(ish) to the gaming industry, I don't think they're unique to it.

So, yeah, my apologies for the rambling, I just think that any time you expand something as much as we've expanded the game industry, both the good and the bad are expanded with it. I think that despite the things you, I, or anyone else dislikes, that  the accessibility, ease of distribution, wide range of development tools, and just general increase in the gaming industry is a net positive for everyone. I try to view it the same way I do the music, movie, or book industries. I certainly think there are tons of terrible unreadable books out there, but I'm in no way obligated to read them (there's usually someone who will love 'em ). But, the fact that there are so goddamn many books out there means I'll always be able to find one that I'll enjoy, and I'll never run out of options

While I agree with many of your points, I think that on the other hand, what we've really been offered is much, much, much more variety.

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[snip]

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I just think that any time you expand something as much as we've expanded the game industry, both the good and the bad are expanded with it. I think that despite the things you, I, or anyone else dislikes, that  the accessibility, ease of distribution, wide range of development tools, and just general increase in the gaming industry is a net positive for everyone.

Very true. I just wish "discoverability" of quality games was a solved problem! And by "quality games", I mean, consumer discoverability of my games once they are released.

Netflix recommendations still are terrible. Amazon suggestions are a bit better but often miss the mark.

Different people have different tastes, and trying to figure out what makes a game "quality" is subjective, but I enjoyed Steam's "walled garden" of curated games - they are increasingly allowing almost anything into their store, and I personally feel soon they'll take a website-widget like approach, and allow *everything* into their store. This means Steam will transition from, "Here's a store where we stock quality games", to "Here's a payment platform and centralized library of your own games", making it harder for me as a consumer to find games that'll interest me, and harder for me as a developer to get possible customers to look at my game.

Steam was a benefit. It's not now a liability, but still, the benefit has been reduced. When you come to rely on walking with a cane, and now your cane is gone, it takes some getting used to and causes some frustration.

Getting on Steam used to mean an almost guaranteed 10,000 sales. It meant, if you made a good enough game, and if Steam accepted it into the store, then your game was a success. It was almost an answer to the indie problem of "How do we get public attention for our game?". Getting on Steam was the attention. Now it's back to the scramble of the regular internet distribution and mobile game mosh-pit of street-hawking your games louding than the person next to you - in a crowded room of fifty thousand other developers doing the same thing.

The crowded market means we just, as consumers and as developers, have to work a little harder. It was never a free lunch, but the lunch used to be a little cheaper.

@ Servant of the Lord

Very true. Though, if I recall, it used to be incredibly difficult to get your game on Steam. I could be mistaken, but I believe you had to either be under a major publisher, or at least "recommended" by a publisher (or something to that effect).

But, yeah, Steam...has certainly changed. Like you mentioned, it used to be a sort of curator for games, where, if a game made it on to Steam, you could be at least sort of assured that it hit a certain level of polish. While, now, Steam is closer to just a repository of pretty much anyone who wants their game on Steam (i'm being a little hyperbolic here ).

You might have better insight into this than I (I've never commercially released a game), but do you really feel that things have changed all that much? I only have experience of Steam as a consumer, rather than a game developer. I would imagine that previously, it was just incredibly difficult to get your independently created game picked up by a major publisher, and if you weren't on a major publisher, you had few to no options to gain any significant exposure or sales. Now, I imagine it's just as difficult to be published, but you have a lot more options for marketing/releasing outside of the major outlets. The downside being that there is so much competition(so, so much competition).

I just imagine that games of a certain level of quality still rise to the top eventually. Not through any sort of "free hand of the market" or anything, but just through word of mouth, exposure in the gaming media, and yeah, even steam sales, humble bundles, or whathaveyou.

I just figure any game that struggles in the current gaming industry environment would probably have the same struggles, if not worse ones, in the past. I could totally be wrong here, but I just imagine that games that struggle now, probably wouldn't have even have been able to exist at all 5 or 10 years ago. Perhaps there was a short-lived age where everything was balanced nicely though. There certainly was for independent music, before its current environment.

Anyhow, I'm curious about your thoughts on this, but I imagine that a game that would have made it onto Steam a few years back, would be of the quality that they'll still be rather successful even in the current climate. Or, do you thing it is much more difficult to generate any profits in the current climate even if your game is of great quality? Does all the "fluff" competition just flood the potential sales?

You might have better insight into this than I (I've never commercially released a game),

I haven't released any commercial games either. I've just watched and read alot of the news in the industry for the past few years and form my opinions based on that - so it's armchair from-the-outside-looking-in knowledge.

Very true. Though, if I recall, it used to be incredibly difficult to get your game on Steam. I could be mistaken, but I believe you had to either be under a major publisher, or at least "recommended" by a publisher (or something to that effect).

Yes, it was more difficult, but you didn't need a publisher, as far as I understand. (You used to need a publisher for publishing on consoles, but not on Steam). You just had to convince Valve that your game was quality enough to put on their stores.

But, yeah, Steam...has certainly changed. Like you mentioned, it used to be a sort of curator for games, where, if a game made it on to Steam, you could be at least sort of assured that it hit a certain level of polish. While, now, Steam is closer to just a repository of pretty much anyone who wants their game on Steam (i'm being a little hyperbolic here ).

But it's increasingly heading to that extreme! Based on half-statements Valve has made in the past, as well as the direction that Humble Bundle is going, I think within three years Valve will have a "Steam Widget" you can use on your own website to sell your game, and the Steam application will be the central place where you update and play your games. It'll be almost a paypal-like service for digital content (primarily games, but probably movies and ebooks also), though ofcourse the Steam store itself will still exist. Probably good for consumers, but overall worsens the discoverability problem still further.

Works well for Steam though - they'll just get a cut of almost every game ever sold on the PC, they wouldn't particularly care whose game it is.

I just imagine that games of a certain level of quality still rise to the top eventually. Not through any sort of "free hand of the market" or anything, but just through word of mouth, exposure in the gaming media, and yeah, even steam sales, humble bundles, or whathaveyou.

Steam Sales come so frequently. Humble Bundles do decent jobs at curation. But if the choice is, "Either your excellent game is never noticed, or else you have to accept an average of $7 split nine-or-more ways (two charities, five or more games, humble bundle itself, credit card fees, depending on the consumers' choices)", it's almost a Hobson's choice. If a sale happens every day, cycling through tens of thousands of games, how much extra exposure does that really give you? I just figure any game that struggles in the current gaming industry environment would probably have the same struggles, if not worse ones, in the past. I could totally be wrong here, but I just imagine that games that struggle now, probably wouldn't have even have been able to exist at all 5 or 10 years ago. You might be correct about that. They would probably just exist as ad-supported or sponsored flash-games, and be the worse off for it. The recent 'indie boom' started slowly in 2007 or so (I think), and just kept building up, but it's not historically the first such indie boom. Actually, it's the overabundance of poor games drowning out good games that was one of the causes that crashed the videogaming market in 1977 and again in 1983. I'm not suggesting we're heading to another industry-wide crash (I seriously doubt it), just that the glut of cheap games drowning markets have caused problems not only thirty years ago, but also recently with the mobile market, and I'm worried it'll affect PC markets next. Maybe the indie game market, or even the game market as a whole, follows a boom and bust cycle? I have no clue. Thankfully, game consoles are alot more curated - though I notice Nintendo consoles (both handhelds and living-room consoles) seem to get alot of non-indie shovelware (And I'm a heavy Nintendo fan). With the mobile marketplace, I watched (from the sidelines) as prices raced to the bottom, and the stores filled up with hundreds of thousands of apps. Thankfully, I've noticed a significant increase in the prices of PC indie games recently (on Steam and elsewhere), and that actually encourages me that at least we are now moving away from the race-to-the-bottom we previously were heading straight for. Perhaps there was a short-lived age where everything was balanced nicely though. Things are must have been better yesterday than they are today, or I wouldn't have anything left to complain of! I agree that the mass of low-quality games aren't stopping the high-quality games from being made. I just hope those high quality games get the sales they should get. Anyhow, I'm curious about your thoughts on this, but I imagine that a game that would have made it onto Steam a few years back, would be of the quality that they'll still be rather successful even in the current climate. You're probably right. At least I hope you are. :| Or, do you thing it is much more difficult to generate any profits in the current climate even if your game is of great quality? Does all the "fluff" competition just flood the potential sales? I'm really not sure, it's just something that bothers me from time to time. By the time I actually get my game to market, and you get yours to market, will things be worse off than they are now, the same as they are now, or better off? I guess we can't do anything but finish our games (as high quality as possible) and find out. Hopefully quality will trump quantity - as long as we find our niches and find a fanbase. Best of luck to you, mate! I would like to see a few more concrete examples in this article, especially since the article proper is expressing an opinion. You touched on this: new games can be rehashes of dead genres ad infinitum. Looking just at first person shooters, I wrote: I am somewhat aghast at how many there are. The Bioshock series, the Halo series, the Resident Evil series, the Crysis series, the Battlefield series, the Half Life series, the Counter-Strike, Medal of Honor, Code of Honor, Brothers in Arms, Rainbow Six, F.E.A.R., S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Killzone, Doom, Quake, Call of Duty, Heavy Gear, Delta Force, Far Cry, Left 4 Dead, series-es. . . . I frequent a lot of technical forums, and it's disturbingly frequent how often some novice programmer solicits advice on making "their own" FPS. It's everyone and his uncle wanting to make one. Even al-Qaeda released one. In my opinion, one of the major reasons for stagnation in the gaming industry is that it (both companies producing and gamers consuming) has collectively forgotten the new-frontier sort of brazen exploration that was its hallmark twenty, thirty years ago. Reading this piece almost made me want to break out my Gran Torino "you kids get the hell off my lawn" stare. Commandos? Honestly, I HATED that game! The vision cones that dictated vector-based avoidance gameplay, the boring set-piece solutions laid out beforehand on carefully designed maps seemingly hinting at "guess what the game designer was thinking" solutions. It was yet another in a long line of story heavy, mission-based titles defiling my gaming holy trinity of freedom, player creativity and open-ended exploration. My golden age were games like Ultima V and Starflight. Massive, sprawling worlds. Entrepreneurial "carve your own path" survival-- no handholding! Non-linear problem solving. All with now obtuse, near-impenetrable interfaces and all but forgotten. In other words.... "back in my day!" This, of course, just probably proves that every golden age is likely heavily tinged with the fog of nostalgia (or Oblivion-style bloom if you like). While it may be true that technology has changed some of the characteristic phenomena of game development and distribution, I have a strong feeling that it's the same melody in a different key. Take paid reviews, for instance. This is an area that keeps experiencing scandal after scandal. I remember the scandal of big-name game reviewers being given expensively arranged rides in a real life US attack helicopter to bolster favorable reviews for a new combat sim (Comanche 3 I think). Or a major gaming site allowing a hint book writer to give a patently broken game a glowing review on a major gaming website (for Ascendancy). Or take fretting over technology that democratizes game creation (Unity etc.): Can you imagine that the same was said of gaming libraries like Allegro or Fastgraph? That they, along with game development books, would unleash a flood of low-quality games onto the market (which I guess they did, in the form of the little shareware revolution of the late-80s and early 90s). Or even deeper still if you want a comparison to apps and the race to the bottom / bundling, look at coin-op arcades and how we started getting 4-in-1 cabinets with multiple, usually crap games before arcades pretty much disappeared. And sadly, I can't think of any time when the suits didn't rule the roost, and maybe for good reason. Take Looking Glass Studios, which gave us gorgeous gems like Thief, System Shock, Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri and Ultima Underworld--innovative all. Their reward? To watch their furniture being sold off right up to the water cooler while desperately trying to crank out their next game. All this is to say that while you certainly have great points, I'd ask for a bit more historical perspective. There's something going on in this industry-- with this artform, if you can call it that-- that seems to have some endemic characteristics embodied both by those that create the games and those that consume them. Whatever it is, it keeps the same stuff happening over and over again. (Sorry for the counter-essay, by the way. I imagine someone who originally played Colossal Caves is smirking at my supposed long-view retrospective and breaking out his Dirty Harry stare to get me the hell of HIS lawn! ) "Why games don't have to be good anymore".... For the record, games never had to be good in the first place. There have been bad games since games have been made (Custer's Revenge always springs to mind). This article is just a rant that seems to place the blame on everyone except the developers as it is ultimately the developers who have to make it good. The problem with services like Steam having the ability to police quality is, simply: What determines the level of quality allowed and how do you determine when games meet it or not? That being said, I find roughly 90% of games on Steam or bundles have zero interest to me. To me, that line sums up the whole article. The whole article, again to me, comes across as the author has zero interest in games coming out so therefore they aren't good anymore. I find it odd that the author seems to expect everyone except the developer to make 'better' games as he thinks Steam should police the quality of the game (which would be kicking a lot of indie teams out). The problem with services like Steam having the ability to police quality is, simply: What determines the level of quality allowed and how do you determine when games meet it or not? Erm... number of bugs reported by users going unfixed even after the umpteenth patch, and the level of stress in players' (or should I say lab rats') posts on game's forums? Keeping track of this could be simplified by adding a "bugs" section where users can report bugs instead of the forums, and from there it's just adding a progress bar somewhere, showing the number of fixed bugs vs. non-fixed ones, also possibly showing the quality of a game in the game's page, as a simple (number of reported unfixed bugs)/(time since game was released) ratio - this has been done before (see github for example). Also, a thumbs up/down system wouldn't hurt (see sourceforge)... Erm... number of bugs reported by users going unfixed even after the umpteenth patch, and the level of stress in players' (or should I say lab rats') posts on game's forums? In order to fix a bug you have to be able to reproduce it otherwise you run the risk of adding more bugs trying to guess what is causing their bugs. If they are patching a game and haven't fixed a bug, it likely means they can't reproduce the bug to fix it or is system specific (as I had tons of bugs in games that turned out to be outdated drivers or crappy hardware). Keeping track of this could be simplified by adding a "bugs" section where users can report bugs instead of the forums, and from there it's just adding a progress bar somewhere, showing the number of fixed bugs vs. non-fixed ones, also possibly showing the quality of a game in the game's page, as a simple (number of reported unfixed bugs)/(time since game was released) ratio - this has been done before (see github for example). Also, a thumbs up/down system wouldn't hurt (see sourceforge)... That would be great assuming there are measures in place to prevent trolling (as users could just downvote it because they don't like the graphics or creator). I've been part of SF since 2001 and don't recall there ever being a thumbs up/down system, but it uses stars (1 - 5) and reviews. It could have 100% bug fixes and still be poor quality though, which is my point, who determines the level of quality without alienating other developers because I think quality is more than just bugs in the game. Ooh, saying unpopular things! Yay! Please include some references to specific examples of offenders/incidents. It may seem crass, but there is a problem right now, and tiptoeing around it is pointless. As mentioned, it is worth considering perspective. There have always been bad games, but the amount of work required to differentiate has increased. I think the real culprit here is the shape of the market. The dominance of Steam is unfortunate, but not because Valve is making a profit, or because crap games get listed. The problem is that we have the technology and know-how to control this flood of information very effectively, but it seems like nobody is interested in doing so. Just yesterday I was shaking my head at Steam for still having their two massive SNAFUs: unpoliced genre-tags, and no aggregate user ratings. This is really basic stuff, and implementing it would benefit everyone except the assholes that are abusing the lack of it. On the other hand, I'm also seeing people talk about recent policy changes for pre-release games that require companies to hold to certain standards or else end up handing out refunds. I read this, of course, in the context of someone using a loophole to get around it, but the same conversation did mention that there were also changes happening to stop the censorship of bad Steam reviews by developers. ... not shovelware, but more like MyFirstGameFor$9.99-ware.

Seriously, we need a catchy new term to cover this kind of thing. Not all of these games are bad, just like not all shovelware is bad. In fact, some of them are really, really good. It's just that it's a category of game that's expanding so rapidly that it's difficult to sort the trash from the treasures.

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