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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Steam’s New Rules Change How Games Stand Out

Award symbols, discount announcements, and review scores clutter a Steam store front in a Photoshopped image.

Image: Valve / Kotaku

Yesterday, Valve issued an update for devs who sell on their storefront. Starting September 1 of this year, “banner images,” referred to as “Capsules” in Steamworks, will be restricted from including a variety of accolades, current sales, and more. In the announcement of the policy change, the house of Gordon Freeman states that the previous rules weren’t defined well enough.

Banner images are the equivalent of cover art on Steam. They’re what you see in the listings on the store and they’re usually designed to get your attention as quickly as possible: That often means fancy art, a prominent main character, and the title in big, stylized letters. But it’s also been a place where developers indicate current sales, list rave reviews, show off any awards the game might’ve won, or simply let you know that there’s new DLC or a seasonal update. Starting September 1, however, developers will be allowed to indicate big updates, but they’ll be prohibited from displaying numbers or other text that doesn’t directly relate to the game.

Valve shared news of the upcoming changes in an announcement on steamcommunity.com. Titled “New Rules For Graphical Asset Capsules,” the post details the company’s desire to “make things as clear and straightforward as possible for customers to find games to buy and play on Steam.” For them, that doesn’t include listing high review scores, award names, symbols or logos, and absolutely no discount marketing copy.

Content on base graphical asset capsules on Steam is limited to game artwork, the game name, and any official subtitle. For clarity, this means:

  1. No review scores of any kind, including Steam reviews or external news sources
  1. No award names, symbols, or logos
  2. No discount marketing copy (eg. no “On Sale Now” or “Up to 90% off” text)
  3. No text or imagery promoting a different product. This includes no marketing of sequels or other titles in the same franchise.
  4. No other miscellaneous text.

Images can be updated to notify customers of an update, such as a major DLC release or seasonal update popular with live service games. There are some restrictions for that as well, however. Said updates can only go live for a month, using what Valve calls “Artwork Overrides.” Additionally, the text—which must only be used to describe the new content and nothing else—must be localized to whatever languages are supported by the game.

For those who want to show off high review scores, Valve indicates that developers ought to follow the rules outlined in the “Store Page Accolades” documentation on Steamworks. These are the accolades you see on a game’s specific store page, often on the right side of the page.

This rules change will likely help clear up some of the textual clutter that sometimes fills Steam, though it remains to be seen how developers will respond to the new guidelines, and how strict Valve will be in enforcing them when they go into place this September.

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