Valve has amended its policy regarding promotional images on the Steam store so that only screenshots may be used in galleries.
In new guidelines posted to developers on Steamworks, Valve has decreed that all future uploads to the Steam Store must feature screen captures rather than art, logos, or pre-rendered impressions of a game.
“We haven’t been super crisp on guidelines for screenshots in the past, so we’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some rules in this space,” wrote Valve designer Alden Kroll. “When the ‘screenshot’ section of a store page is used for images other than screenshots that depict the game, it can make it harder for customers to understand what the product is that they are looking at.”
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The rules come into effect as of the “Discovery Update 2.0”, but Valve has indicated that it won’t be checking every single entry to ensure it meets the new standards. Instead, the company is leading by example, and has amending the page of its own game, Dota 2, to reflect the new rules.
Kroll added that the update is designed to “show customers what your game is actually like to play.”
The change in policy comes weeks after an Advertising Standards Authority investigation was launched into the Steam sale of No Man’s Sky. Many customers were upset to discover that images featured on the store page weren’t part of the eventual experience, and were tantamount to false advertising.
Whilst it’s true that many of the images on the No Man’s Sky page are more tantalising than the game on offer (majestic dinosaurs, herds of swarming creatures, and fleet-scale battles didn’t feature in the final product), but the practice of using non-screenshot images is not uncommon on Steam. Scan through some of the thousands of entries and it’s easy to find logos, art, and other renders alongside screenshots. Rarely, in-game screens aren’t even featured.
Showing a game’s content transparently on the page of purchase is a clear win for the consumer.
What remains to be seen is how heavily Valve will police the policy if developers or publishers choose to defy it.