It’s been a strange week here at the Pleasuredome. Once again, a bud of the Hivemind prepares to detach and spread in-jokes and sinister, fungaloid thoughts about user interfaces to a new, unsuspecting host. And I’d only just confirmed he’s real, too. Bye bye, Adam. Subvert from within, yeah?
Shamelessly namedropping far more talented people we’ve briefly orbited this week: chasing rabbits, redirecting lasers, and justifying patricide.
Valve must pay a fine of AU$3 million (about 1.6m/US$2.3m/ 1.8m) for misleading Steam users in Australia by stating they were not entitled to refunds for faulty games on Steam, though Australian law guarantees rights on faulty products. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) went after Valve for this back in 2014, before Steam offered widespread refunds, and in 2016 the Federal Court agreed. Valve appealed that court’s decision but the High Court of Australia have now ruled that it stands, and that Valve must pay. They ACCC say that this “is the final decision on this issue”, the end of the line. (more…)
Infants. Infants everywhere. Ooh, look at me, I’m like a human but smaller and I’m allowed to scream and climb on stuff if I want to, oooh. End of term holidays are when you’re supposed to be indoors playing games, not studying or going outside like some sort of peon. Bah. Wake me up when they’re all back in school juggling cats or bouncer baiting, or whatever this week’s Fear The Yoof thing is.
Why, I bet they don’t even know what Unknown Pleasures is named after.
Pointing out what used to be grass this week: naive snipers, murine nomads, and a little blobby blob that boings.
Valve have overhauled the privacy settings for Steam user profiles, letting us hide more data and setting more of it to be hidden from strangers by default – including the list of games you own. Good. More online platforms should default to hiding personal data. We can now hide our playtime on games if we want too, so our pals can e.g. see that we own The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth but not that we’ve played it for e.g. 871 hours, in case we feel e.g. shame about that (not me: I’ll tell you it’s just that good).
This does have the knock-on effect of locking out Steam Spy, the popular non-Valve site which scans vast numbers of public profiles to estimate how many people own a game and how much they play it. In a secretive industry, it’s one of the few ways to have a sense of how well a game is doing. (more…)
Unknown Pleasures has been on unplanned hiatus as I have been grotesquely ill. The lack of communication or cover was entirely my fault, and I apologise for that unreservedly (and extend further thanks to the Hivemind for their extraordinary patience). I’m sorry.
Wait, hang on, Adam’s leaving. I can blame him! It was Adam, everyone! Shake your indignant fists.
There’s a bumper of 12 games this week, and then we’ll be back to normal. So, assaulting our ailing bodies this week: third party candidates, pugilistic ducks, and a JRPG that wait where are you going no come on, be fair.
Steam Machines went nowhere, Valve have basically said (I’m paraphrasing a touch), but nah, don’t sweat it, they are still committed to improving gaming on Linux. After shuffling Steam Machines deeper into the labyrinth of Steam’s website menus, and the ensuing cybersquawking over Valve having done a thing, they’ve reflected a little on their PC branding partnership and the Linux-based SteamOS beneath it.
“Given that this change has sparked a lot of interest, we thought it’d make sense to address some of the points we’ve seen people take away from it,” Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais said. Internet, eh? (more…)
One of the most interesting and controversial features of Steam’s user reviews is the system’s open-ended nature. Reviews can can range from a couple of lines to thousands of words, can adopt virtually any style, and only need to possess passing relevance to the game in question. What results is a system where thoughtfully written reviews reside alongside jokey one-liners, incoherent rants, and political rallying cries.
This issue has led for some developers to call for more stringent moderation of reviews, either to separate them into different categories or remove certain kinds of reviews entirely. Yet while the opinions of user reviewers are visible for everyone to see, why> users are compelled to leave the kinds of reviews they do in the first place is less obvious. Hence, I reached out to several very different reviewers, each of whom has posted a large number of reviews, to find out their motivations behind what they write and why they write it. (more…)
Since 2013, Steam has allowed its users to leave reviews on the Steam page of games they have purchased. Using the system, players can leave a written description of the game in question, and then award it a binary Recommended or Not Recommended rating. These reviews are then aggregated into recent and overall ratings for the game which are displayed on the game’s Steam page. These ratings range from Overwhelmingly Positive to Mostly Negative.
Because of Steam’s ubiquity on the PC, Steam reviews have become one of the main ways that developers receive feedback on their games. But how do developers feel about the system itself? Do Steam reviews provide a beneficial service that can help improve games? Or is it a perpetual nuisance warped by review bombing and ‘joke’ reviews that cause stress and confusion to the people who make the games we play? (more…)
With a new Tomb Raider film about to hit theaters, the world is ripe for some Lara Croft nostalgia. Here to fill that void we have some delightful remaster news: the first three Tomb Raider games are getting made-up really pretty, and they’ll be free for gamers who own the originals. The reason why, however, might surprise you.