Valve

Discord is launching a game store

Posted by | discord, Gaming, Steam, TC, Valve | No Comments

Just a few weeks back, Valve moved into Discord’s turf a bit with a dramatic overhaul of Steam’s chat system.

Today, Discord is returning the favor by playing with the idea of selling games through its namesake chat platform.

The company says it’ll launch a beta of the game store later today, though it’ll initially be limited to a small slice of its user base (which now sits at 150 million users). More specifically, the beta will roll out to just 50,000 users from Canada at first.

It’ll be dabbling in game sales on two fronts: they’ll directly sell some games, while other games will be added perks for its Discord Nitro subscription service.

Whereas Valve has massively increased the number of games on Steam over the last few years by opening up to third parties through things like Steam Greenlight or (more recently) Steam Direct, Discord is pitching this as a more “curated” offering with a slimmer number of options. At least at first, they say they’re aiming for something that feels more like “one of those cozy neighborhood book shops” — which, on day one of the beta, translates to 11 games.

The games it’ll sell first:

  • Dead Cells
  • Frostpunk
  • Omensight
  • Into the Breach
  • SpellForce 3
  • The Banner Saga 3
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
  • Hollow Knight
  • Moonlighter
  • This is the Police 2
  • Starbound

While 11 games may not seem like much, you can bet they’ll offer more than that in time. See that screenshot up top? You don’t dedicate an entire tab in some of your app’s most prime screen real estate unless you’re hoping to make it a key part of your business.

Taking things one more step forward, Discord is also getting into (temporary) exclusives — or, as it calls them, “First on Discord” games. While it doesn’t mention names and none will roll out with today’s beta, Discord says it’ll soon highlight select indie games that’ll be available only on Discord for the first 90 days-or-so after their respective launches.

Meanwhile, the company is also testing the idea of building up its premium subscription add-on, Discord Nitro, into a game subscription service. Whereas the $5-per-month service previously primarily got you a few mostly aesthetic perks like animated avatars, a special profile badge and bigger upload limits, the same 50,000 players mentioned above (or, at least, those on Windows) will get access to a rotating set of games.

The first games hitting the subscription beta:

  • Saints Row: The Third
  • Metro: Last Light Redux
  • Darksiders: Warmastered Edition
  • De Blob
  • Tormentor X Punisher
  • Dandara
  • Kathy Rain
  • GoNNER
  • Kingdom: New Lands
  • System Shock Enhanced Edition
  • Super Meat Boy

While many of those games aren’t exactly new (some of them are 5+ years old), a lot of them are really great games (I’ve lost days to Super Meat Boy) that not everyone has gotten around to playing. It’s a solid way to pique people’s interest in giving Discord a bit of money each month if the GIFs and badges weren’t quite enough.

Oh, and for good measure, Discord is making itself a launcher — that is, you’ll be able to sort and launch most of the games on your computer right from Discord, including games purchased elsewhere and even those, notes the company, that require another launcher to run. If that’s not a shot across the bow in Steam’s direction, I’m not sure what is.

Powered by WPeMatico

Valve’s answer to Discord is now live for everyone

Posted by | chat, discord, Gaming, Steam, TC, Valve | No Comments

Just a month ago, Valve announced Steam Chat — an overhaul to its aging chat system, and the company’s answer to rapidly growing competition from apps like Discord. At the time, it was a beta limited only to those who were granted access.

Today it’s opening up to all.

As Devin put it when the beta features rolled out, the previous chat system “may as well be ICQ.” It was useful for a quick chats, but it felt much too limited for anything beyond that.

The new Steam Chat, meanwhile, takes a huge step toward being a modern chat offering. It groups contacts by the game they’re playing, shows whether or not they’re currently in-game or in a match, offers easy access to your “favorite” contacts and allows for big group chats and persistent channels. It supports inline media (GIFs! SoundCloud! YouTube!), encrypted voice chat and has both a browser-based client and a client built into Steam.

Will it kill Discord? Probably not.

While it might stymie the losses of the more casual players who might otherwise find their way over to Discord, it’ll be tough to sway anyone who has already come to call Discord home. Many Discord gaming groups have deep roots, with many of them having elaborate channel setups and relying on bespoke customizations like bots that help them schedule matches or raids.

If you want to check out the new chat system and already have Steam installed, just pop into Steam and tap the “Friends and Chat” button in the bottom right.

Powered by WPeMatico

Valve sets sights on Discord with updates to Steam Chat

Posted by | discord, e3 2018, Gaming, Steam, TC, Valve | No Comments

Discord has risen among the ranks of gamers as the most common choice for game-related communications. And it’s easy to see why: it works well and the competition is pretty dismal. But Valve is looking to keep users in-house with an overhaul of the chat options on its game platform Steam .

It’s a welcome change, one of many that Steam’s users have surely been asking for — the platform, while convenient in many ways, is also incredibly outdated in others. The friend and communications options may as well be ICQ, and let’s not get started on the browser.

Today’s news suggests that Valve has not failed to hear gamers’ cries. The revamped chat is very Discord-like, with text and voice channels listed separately, in-game details like map and game type listed next to friends and a useful quick list for your go-to gaming partners. There’s also a robust web client.

Voice and text chat is all encrypted and passed through Steam’s servers, which prevents the NSA competition from monitoring your squad’s tactics during PUBG games and griefers from tracing your IP and ordering a hundred pizzas to your door (or worse).

It’s long past due for a platform like Steam, but more importantly it lets them keep Discord in check. The latter, after all, could conceivably grow itself a game store or promotions page in order to subsidize its free services — and that would be stepping on Valve’s turf. Unforgivable.

That said, it’s far too late for Steam to steal away Discord’s users — it’s been adopted by far too many communities and the benefits of switching aren’t really substantial. But for people who have not yet installed Discord, the presence of a robust chat and voice client within Steam is a powerful deterrent.

It’s currently in beta, but you can request access here (web) and here (Steam). No word on whether they are developing a whole system of chat icons based on those wiggly little egg-people in the top image. (Please.)

Powered by WPeMatico

Valve says removing controversial games from Steam is hard so it’s not going to

Posted by | Gaming, Steam, TC, Valve | No Comments

Internet platforms removing objectionable content from their sites has been one of the more difficult challenges for tech companies in recent years. Valve has also determined that it’s a pretty difficult challenge in their Steam gaming store, but unlike some of the other major platforms on the web, they’ve decided they’re not going to do anything unless the content is actually illegal or, as they put it, “straight up trolling.”

The company has also asserted that “the games we allow onto the Store will not be a reflection of Valve’s values…”

Here’s exactly what else Valve employee Erik Johnson said in a company blog post, which you should read in full here:

Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this. If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy. If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

This post is largely in response to the company’s actions regarding a school shooting simulator (pictured above) that caused the ire of many. Valve removed the title from the store, but said it did so because the creator was previously banned and was a “troll.”

There are certainly plenty of those in the gaming community who would hold tightly to the idea that people will buy what they want to and Valve shouldn’t decide which content makes it onto their PC. Honestly, that could be a pretty ideologically defensible position if you didn’t think about the money changing hands here. The problem is Valve takes a pretty big cut of the revenue from titles sold through the store, so when it says that it doesn’t agree with content, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t want the money it makes from it.

If Valve wants to find objectionable content and then forego their cut while keeping the games available for download that’s one thing, and they can probably stick by the words in their blog post a bit more as a result.

Finding the line in terms of what is okay and what isn’t in gaming is admittedly painfully difficult. You can kill cops and mow down pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto V, which has brought in billions of dollars in revenue single-handedly, but ultimately I think its maker, Rockstar Games, would at least say that they can stand by their game. If Valve isn’t willing to stand by the games they sell as part of their “values,” do they even have values as a company that… sells games?

YouTube is having what seems to border on an existential crisis right now as they have to decide how to monetize videos on their site that contain “objectionable content.” Valve can hide from this kind of a crisis, but they can’t avoid it. Ad-supported models tend to obscure the money exchanging hands, but when someone buys a game on Steam, money goes directly to Valve as an effect.

Valve can ultimately do what it wants here; they can decide that they want to allow ugly content on their store or not, but they can’t act like Steam is just some giant bucket inside of which games just sit. Valve is a multi-billion-dollar business that inhales revenues from every paid title it sells.

Free expression on the web is an awesome thing, even if it seems to suck sometimes, but stores should be responsible for the items they stock on their shelves.

Powered by WPeMatico

Europe opens antitrust geo-blocking probe into Valve, others

Posted by | antitrust, asus, bandai namco, capcom, competition law, consumer electronics, Denon & Marantz, eu, Europe, european commission, Focus Home, Gadgets, Gaming, Koch Media, Philips, Pioneer, Steam, TC, Valve, ZeniMax | No Comments

European Commission European antitrust regulators have opened an investigation into the Steam games distribution platform operator, Valve, and five PC games publishers to determine whether geo-blocking agreements between them amount to a breach of the region’s competition rules. Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

As eSports popularity explodes, betting needs to be regulated

Posted by | AlphaDraft, ashton kutcher, Column, esports, eSports Events, future of esports, Gaming, iBuyPower, mark cuban, sportradar, unikrn, Valve | No Comments

Fans watch as screens show Yang Jin Hyeob, a professional video-game player, competing against Jeong Se Hyun, not pictured, during the final round of the Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) Sports FIFA Online Championship at the Nexon Co. e-Sports Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Video game competitions, known as eSports, have been expanding as gamers seek to shift perceptions around their craft from a basement hobby to a serious money making industry. Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg via Getty Images Esports betting has boomed in the last five years, attracting investments from celebrities, investors and entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher — even the former NBA Commissioner, David Stern, has talked about it on many forums. Gambling in eSports has charmed stakeholders but it may have created a monster in the gaming industry. As with every growing industry, it’s… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebook is building its own Steam-style desktop gaming platform with Unity

Posted by | Apps, Facebook, Gaming, Mobile, Social, Steam, TC, unity, Valve | No Comments

Facebook Games Facebook may try to compete with Steam, or at least win back revenue lost when casual gaming shifted to mobile. Today Facebook formally announced it’s working with game engine Unity to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform, plus it’s broadening the Facebook.com experience for gamers.
Both will allow publishers to offer their iOS and Android games on desktop in… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Good VR is great — and bad VR is abysmal

Posted by | augmented reality, e3, e3 2016, Gadgets, Gaming, HTC, HTC Vive, Oculus, Opinion, playstation, playstation vr, Sony, TC, Valve, Virtual reality, VR | No Comments

riftred I don’t want VR to be boring. It’s strange to think that something so futuristic and promising, something we’ve looked forward to for decades, could be boring, but I can’t deny it, since I’ve experienced it myself. The fact is that with hundreds of companies joining the VR gold rush, we’re going to be panning a lot of silt for every grain of gold. Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

The gaming industry can become the next big target of cybercrime

Posted by | Column, cybercrime, cybersecurity, Gaming, malware, Origin, ransomware, Security, Steam, Steam Stealer, TC, Valve | No Comments

gamethief Video-game-related crime is almost as old as the industry itself. But while illegal copies and pirated versions of games were the previous dominant form of illicit activities, recent developments and trends in online gaming platforms have created new possibilities for cybercriminals to swindle huge amounts of money from an industry that is worth nearly $100 billion. And what’s worrisome… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico