The changing face of video game marketing has fuelled a growing divide between gamer and publisher, and digital distribution platform Steam is changing the way games are represented on its store.
In the impending “Discovery Update 2.0”, Steam will change its store policy to ensure all images on a game’s store page are of actual gameplay.
This means merchants will no longer be able to use concept art or pre-rendered stills as a means to promote a game.
“Regardless of the content in your game, please make sure that images uploaded to the ‘screenshot’ section of your store page are actually screenshots of your game,” Steam said in its update notes.
“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. 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,” Valve said. “Additionally, we’re going to start showing game screenshots in more places as described above, and these images need to be able to represent the game.”
This is a huge win for gamers and Steam customers. While the more informed gamer is likely to research and take the time to understand a game before purchasing it, all too often are games promoted using taglines and images that aren’t truly reflective of the end product.
One notable example of this is Aliens: Colonial Marines. Developer Gearbox Software showed a demo of the game to press, and coverage was almost universally positive as a response to said demo’s high quality. However, the final product was completely different to the demo shown, and both Gearbox and the game’s publisher, SEGA, faced intense scrutiny and legal action. Promotional screenshots for the game also misrepresented the final product.
“[Avoid] using concept art, pre-rendered cinematic stills, or images that contain awards, marketing copy, or written product descriptions. Please show customers what your game is actually like to play,” Valve, owner and manager of Steam, added.
Interestingly, Valve admitted it had broken its own rules, saying it was “in the process” of update the store page for Dota 2 to feature screens of the game rather than artwork.