The biggest change relates to Valve now selling hardware in the European Union (EU), specifically the Steam Controller and Link. Going forward, our hardware distribution in Europe will be the primary responsibility of our Luxembourg subsidiary, known as Valve SARL. Meanwhile digital content and services in Europe move back under our US company, Valve Corp., just as they were before the Luxembourg office opened in July 2012.
In practice, this changes nothing for our European customers. We will continue to operate with respect to relevant European laws, such as local data and consumer protection, and we'll continue to provide the same services we have for years.
Those who simply want to keep playing their games and are not making a purchase at this time are free to simply ignore the SSA update for now. It only takes effect for users who explicitly confirm it, usually during a new purchase.
We'd like to follow up with more information regarding Steam's troubled Christmas.
On December 25th, a configuration error resulted in some users seeing Steam Store pages generated for other users. Between 11:50 PST and 13:20 PST store page requests for about 34k users, which contained sensitive personal information, may have been returned and seen by other users.
The content of these requests varied by page, but some pages included a Steam users billing address, the last four digits of their Steam Guard phone number, their purchase history, the last two digits of their credit card number, and/or their email address. These cached requests did not include full credit card numbers, user passwords, or enough data to allow logging in as or completing a transaction as another user.
If you did not browse a Steam Store page with your personal information (such as your account page or a checkout page) in this time frame, that information could not have been shown to another user.
Valve is currently working with our web caching partner to identify users whose information was served to other users, and will be contacting those affected once they have been identified. As no unauthorized actions were allowed on accounts beyond the viewing of cached page information, no additional action is required by users.
How it happened
Early Christmas morning (Pacific Standard Time), the Steam Store was the target of a DoS attack which prevented the serving of store pages to users. Attacks against the Steam Store, and Steam in general, are a regular occurrence that Valve handles both directly and with the help of partner companies, and typically do not impact Steam users. During the Christmas attack, traffic to the Steam store increased 2000% over the average traffic during the Steam Sale.
In response to this specific attack, caching rules managed by a Steam web caching partner were deployed in order to both minimize the impact on Steam Store servers and continue to route legitimate user traffic. During the second wave of this attack, a second caching configuration was deployed that incorrectly cached web traffic for authenticated users. This configuration error resulted in some users seeing Steam Store responses which were generated for other users. Incorrect Store responses varied from users seeing the front page of the Store displayed in the wrong language, to seeing the account page of another user.
Once this error was identified, the Steam Store was shut down and a new caching configuration was deployed. The Steam Store remained down until we had reviewed all caching configurations, and we received confirmation that the latest configurations had been deployed to all partner servers and that all cached data on edge servers had been purged.
We will continue to work with our web caching partner to identify affected users and to improve the process used to set caching rules going forward. We apologize to everyone whose personal information was exposed by this error, and for interruption of Steam Store service.
We've seen a lot of Steam users lose access to their Steam accounts. Most often its because an attacker has compromised a user's email account. That email account can then be used to change the password and email address on that user's Steam account, blocking access to their games and items.
There are several methods attackers use that are hard to combat: malware in the guise of other programs like a TeamSpeak update or missing audio codec or a CS:GO weapon upgrader!, malware disguised as images and screenshots, identifying users who reuse passwords on their Steam and email accounts, or via an exploit in their web browser or operating system.
It's a complicated situation and even very sophisticated Steam users can fall victim. Any Steam user who has made a purchase or earned a trading card has value in their account and should use these new features to protect it and all the time invested.
We're releasing a major update to how we handle requests for refunds for purchases on Steam. You can read through all the details about refunds on Steam here, or visit http://help.steampowered.com if youre having trouble with a purchase. We hope this will give you more confidence in trying out titles that you're less certain about.
With today's Steamworks SDK update, we've released The Steam Inventory Service beta, a new feature available to developers with games or software on Steam. The Steam Inventory Service is a set of new Steamworks APIs and tools that allow a game to enable persistent items that have been purchase or unlocked by individual users without having to run special servers to keep track of these user's inventory.
With this service, a game can easily drop items to customers based on playtime or can grant items based on specific situations or actions within the game. These items can be marked as tradable through Steam or sellable via the Steam Marketplace. Developers can also configure recipes for crafting different combinations of items that result in more rare, unique, or valuable items.
This new service adds to the list of APIs available for free to Steamworks developers, including achievements, cloud saves, authentication services, error reporting, leaderboards, matchmaking, Steam Workshop, peer-to-peer networking, in-game overlay, downloadable content, and much more.
When we launched the Workshop late in 2011, we expected that it would grow, but not that it would grow this much, this quickly. So far, the total payments made to individuals for the creation of in-game items sold in Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have passed $57 million. This money was earned by over 1,500 contributors spread out across 75 countries.
New Curated Workshops
The limitation of paid, revenue-generating Workshops to Valve content has been an unfortunate consequence of the sheer number of challenges required in order to scale to a global audience of creators and players. Today we're happy to announce that after a ton of work, the first curated Workshops for non-Valve games have opened: Dungeon Defenders: Eternity and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.
This is really exciting news and means that more high quality content will be available for the game you love playing. Plus, purchases of this great new content directly enables those community members to continue practicing their craft and making more awesome content.
We expect more curated Workshops to become available for creators and players in various games over the coming weeks and months.
Introducing Revenue Tools For Workshop Authors
The Workshop has continued to grow and a larger number of contributors are now earning revenue from more pieces of content in a wider variety of games. To help answer questions about where revenue is coming from, we're also launching a set of new tools that enable contributors to view real-time sales data for their items as well as view detailed per-item revenue breakdowns and historical statements.
Once you have content accepted into a paid, curated Workshop, you'll see a link to "View Your Revenue" from your "My Workshop Files" page. If you don't have any content accepted yet, now's a great time to get involved!
With the launch of the Steam Tags beta back in February, we gave Steam customers the ability to "tag" any game or software with genres, themes, attributes, or any other term or phrase that would help customers find similar products. In the time since the feature launched, customers have applied tags more than 4 million times and across almost every product in the Steam catalog.
Our goal for Steam is to keep getting better at helping each customer find the next games that they want to play. Tags are a critical component in helping the Steam store better understand which products are related, which in turns contributes to better recommendations of games for customers. While there are a number of important components in making confident recommendations for customers, this blog post will focus primarily on tags.
So, how do we measure the effectiveness of tags? Let's start by looking at a couple areas where the store is currently generating recommendations and have been affected by the existence of tags.
If you visit a product page for a game on Steam, you'll notice a section just above the reviews called "More like this". With the addition of tags, we can better figure out which games are most closely related thematically and stylistically. As a result, the amount of traffic through the 'More like this" section of the product page has tripled, which indicates to us that customers are finding those suggestions much more relevant.
Tags are also really useful for making specific recommendations for users based on the games they have been playing recently. Before we had the tag data, visitors to the "Recommended for you" page were just presented with items on their wishlist or DLC for games they had bought. We had genres on Steam, but we found that their usage was far too broad to be useful in making recommendations for similar games (for an example of this, look at the breadth of variety in the Action genre).
With the data we have from tagging, the "Recommended for you" page can actually suggest titles related to what you've been playing, and as a result, we've seen a significant increase in the percentage of clicks on the titles being recommended.
While we were looking at the impact of tags, we discovered that a couple of early decisions we had made were holding tags back from working even better. One of those decisions was to have a separate pool of tags for each available language.
We had assumed that some languages might have cultural differences in the kind of tags or the use of tags that would generate different data that is more relevant for users in those languages. That may still be true, but the downside of having separate pools of tags outweighs any positives that may be possible. Most languages, which have fewer Steam users than English, ended up with many fewer tags applied and a higher percentage of bad data from the tags (inappropriate tags, jokes, etc.).
As a result of this finding, we are merging tags from across all the Steam languages to create one list of tags which is translated by our community translators. This means that the same tags will show up on a game for every customer, though customers may see a language-specific translation of a term if it is appropriate for their language.
Another change we are making is in how similar tags get merged together and the threshold at which new tags become part of the system.
The degree to which a tag is useful for making recommendations depends on two elements: How many people agree that it should be applied to a specific game and how accurately it associates the games it is applied to. For example, highly useful tags tend to be objective descriptions of content or theme such as "Fantasy" or "Zombies".
Unhelpful tags are ones where users don't agree on usage, or they are too general to help the recommendation system actually find related games. An example of this is the tag "Fun". Since everyone has a slightly different definition of what is fun for them, this tag tends to get applied to a huge variety of games and dilutes our ability to identify which products are actually similar.
When we dig in deeper and look at the individual tags being applied, it becomes clear that there is another category of tags where there is a commonly agreed upon concept, but with many similar spellings or phrases to communicate that concept. For example, we found 4 different variations of a term for a game that supports user modifications: "Modding", "Mod-friendly", "Moddable", "mod supported". Since it is more useful to have a single tag for a term than it is to have a bunch of really similar tags, we have merged together a number of tags. In some cases when you enter a specific tag, you will see it appear as the variation that we have merged it into. For example, if you enter the tag "Mod-friendly" on a title, you will actually see the tag "Moddable" appear.
With this set of changes, we are removing the 'beta' tag on the Steam Tags feature. This is mostly a cosmetic change, since we will continue to make improvements to the feature as we learn new things about how customers are using tags and how we can better utilize the relationships being defined between products.
This week we shipped an update to the Steam Mobile app for iOS (v1.3) which adds new features and updates the visual style to make the mobile experience feel more at home alongside the desktop and Big Picture interfaces. We also revamped the mobile web experience for all users, which includes user profiles, groups, the storefront, and many other pages.
Offline Chat With the new iOS app, you can send messages to users who are offline as well as view any messages you have received while offline. This includes the ability to see your chat history with other users.
Friends & Groups Weve added support to the iOS Friends view for nicknames, Facebook suggested friends, and what platform (mobile, big picture, desktop) a friend is currently active on. The UI for responding to friend & group invites has been streamlined.
Notifications The notification badge on the iOS application icon will tell you at a glance how many pending notifications you have. This includes offline messages, pending friend invites, and pending group invites. The in-app menu will also break these down by type. Mobile users can control which types of notifications they receive by visiting the Steam Preferences page in their app settings menu. There are also iOS and Android system-wide settings which control how applications receive and display push messages, so users should make sure those settings are enabled if they wish to see Steam notifications.
Catalog The new mobile app and web storefront features an updated carousel and grid design, with the ability to easily filter titles by platform and DLC.
Feedback Your feedback is important to us as we continue to prioritize improvements to the Steam Mobile experience. If you have input, please visit the Steam Mobile Discussions and let us know!
Today were shipping a new feature were calling Trade Offers that allows you to send a prepackaged trade to a friend. Its similar to regular trading, except you propose the items for both sides. You select the items youre willing to give up from your inventory and what youd like to receive from your friend, and send it off. Your friend will receive a notification in the green drop down and can then choose to accept, decline, or make a counter offer. Unlike regular Steam Trading, you don't need to both be online at the same time. Plus, trade offers can be sent and received using a web browser.
You can create an offer from a few places: from the Trade Offers page in your Inventory, from a friends Inventory, and from any of your badge pages you can send a friend a trade offer based on the trading cards you still need to collect.
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions:
Who can I send an offer to? Currently you can send trade offers to your friends, though we may expand this in the future. Note that trade offers respect Inventory privacy settings, so if your friend has their inventory set to Private you cannot send them a trade offer.
Can I send more than one offer with the same items? Yes, you can send more than one offer containing the same items. When an offer is accepted any other pending offers with the same items will expire.
How long is a trade offer good for? Trade offers automatically expire after 2 weeks. You can see the offer expiration date at the bottom of a pending offer. You can cancel any pending offers from the Trade Offers page.
As we work to streamline the publishing workflow and improve the tools available to developers preparing for release on Steam, we've reached a point where we are ready to stress-test our system.
The best way to accomplish this is to invite a significant number of developers to use the updated tools and systems, ship their games and software with these tools, and to give us feedback so that we may continue to improve the process.
To that end, today we've Greenlit another 100 titles, bringing the total number of titles offered worldwide Steam publishing agreements via Greenlight to 260.
This latest milestone is both a celebration of the progress we've made behind the scenes and a stress test of our systems. Future batches are not likely to be as large, but if everything goes smoothly we should be able to continue increasing the throughput of games from Greenlight to the Steam store.
As with past batches, these titles will be released independently in the weeks or months ahead, as they complete development and integrate any Steamworks features they are interested in utilizing.