Well before Penny Arcade coined the term back in 2005, savvy gamers have known better than to believe that photoshopped marketing “bullshots” will look all that similar to the actual, released game. Now, Valve is doing something to combat that problem on its online storefront, issuing new guidelines that ask Steam developers to “please use screenshots to show your game.”
According to a blog post to Valve’s developer community (confirmed by many Steam developers), Steam store pages will have to “avoid using concept art, pre-rendered cinematic stills, or images that contain awards, marketing copy, or written product descriptions.” Instead, developers should focus on “show[ing] customers what your game is actually like to play.”
Valve admits it hasn’t been “super crisp” about these guidelines in the past and even points out that its own Dota 2 store page featured concept art until very recently (here’s an archive of a recent version that featured concept art prominently). But the change to showing actual gameplay in screens is more important now, Valve says, because an upcoming “Discovery Update 2.0” will begin showing those screenshots “in interesting new ways to customers prominently on the home page” and not just on the product page. Developers will also have to manually flag screenshots that are “appropriate for all ages” to work with this new feature.
Back in September, the UK’s Advertising Standard Authority opened up an official investigation against No Man’s Sky developer Hello Games and Valve for “misleading” marketing materials on the game’s Steam page. Those complaints included concerns over the “quality of graphics” represented on that page, as well as the appearance of “structures and buildings as pictured.”
Valve also teased other upcoming improvements to its Steam store pages, including a more prominent “popular among friends” recommendation section, more prominent placement for curator-selected titles, and less prominent placement for new releases that aren’t “top sellers.” The changes are set to go out in the next few weeks.