Valve is revising guidelines for developers who sell their games on its Steam marketplace. All games must use actual, in-game screenshots once the “Discovery Update 2.0” is live, the company announced in a post to Steamworks users, and later shared with Polygon.
“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,” wrote Alden Kroll, a UI designer at Valve. “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.”
In concert with games’ increased visibility throughout Steam, Valve wants developers to prioritize screenshots over concept art when promoting their games going forward. The company is leading the charge itself, having already edited the listing for Dota 2 to reflect the new guidelines. While the popular MOBA previously featured illustrations on its Steam page, in-game footage is now seen front-and-center instead.
Valve’s stance is interesting, as the biggest controversy surrounding the use of marketing images this year involves No Man’s Sky, which did hand out screenshots — just not ones indicative of the version delivered to users.
Some screens shown on No Man’s Sky’s Steam page contained features players have yet to encounter in the game. In September, angered consumers successfully lobbied the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority to investigate Hello Games on grounds of false advertising.
Kroll didn’t say Valve would inspect developers’ submitted images to ensure each was an accurate reflection of their games. Instead, the new policy's goal is to encourage them to “show customers what your game is actually like to play.”
Other features included in the storewide Discovery Update include an overall “visual refresh” for Steam’s homepage, more places to find new and updated games and further curation tools.
Steam users will begin to see these changes go into effect in “a few weeks,” Kroll said.