Archive for the ‘Valve’ Category

Steam uses machine learning for its new game recommendation engine

July 11th, 2019
The new recommendation engine is part of a new experimental Steam Labs branding.

Enlarge / The new recommendation engine is part of a new experimental Steam Labs branding.

For years now, Valve has been testing new approaches to filter the glut of Steam games down to the ones in which individual users are most likely to show an interest. To that end, the company is today rolling out a machine-learning-powered "Interactive Recommender" trained on "billions of play sessions" from the Steam user base.

In the past, Steam has relied largely on crowd-sourced metadata like user-provided tags, user-curated lists, aggregate review scores, and sales data to drive its recommendation algorithms. But the new Interactive Recommender is different, Valve says, because it works without any initial internal or external information about the games themselves (save for the release date). "Instead, the model learns about the games for itself during the training process," Valve says. "The model infers properties of games by learning what users do, not by looking at other extrinsic data."

Your own playtime history is a core part of this neural-network-driven model. The number of hours you put into each game in your library is compared with that of millions of other Steam users so the neural network can make "informed suggestions" about the kinds of games you might like. "The idea is that if players with broadly similar play habits to you also tend to play another game you haven't tried yet, then that game is likely to be a good recommendation for you," Valve writes.

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Posted in @raiseyouriq, AI, Gaming & Culture, machine learning, recommendations, Steam, Valve | Comments (0)

Angry Shenmue III backers can get refunds after Epic Game Store move

July 2nd, 2019
Artist's conception of Kickstarter backers about to open up their email, expecting a promised Steam key...

Enlarge / Artist's conception of Kickstarter backers about to open up their email, expecting a promised Steam key...

Back at E3, Shenmue III developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver revealed that the PC version of the long-awaited sequel would be available exclusively on the Epic Games Store. That upset many of the game's Kickstarter backers, who were promised during the 2015 Kickstarter funding effort that the game would be available via Steam (they were also promised a "December 2017" estimated delivery, but at this point we all know what Kickstarter promises tend to be worth).

After initial reports that Ys Net was denying refund requests following the move, the company announced in a Kickstarter update today that it will indeed offer refunds to affected backers who request one. The developer writes that it was originally still planning to offer a Steam key option to satisfy those backers, but "coordination with the sales policies of the involved companies was untenable, and as a result we are not able to make a day one distribution option for Steam keys available."

"That we are not able to offer Steam keys for Kickstarter rewards at the time of the game’s release is a great [disappointment] and inconvenience for those backers who were expecting to receive them," the update continues. "We deeply apologize for the unrest caused by the announcement."

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Posted in epic, epic game store, Gaming & Culture, Steam, Valve | Comments (0)

Paradox exec: Steam’s 30 percent fee is “outrageous”

July 1st, 2019
Paradox exec: Steam’s 30 percent fee is “outrageous”

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Paradox Interactive (Cities: Skylines, Surviving Mars) seems to be getting fed up with the "standard" 30 percent fee on sales charged by Steam and many other game platforms. Speaking at a Gamelab panel hosted by GamesIndustry.biz last week, Paradox Chairman of the Board and former CEO Fredrik Wester called that state of affairs "outrageous," adding "I think the platform holders are taking too much money. Everyone in the press here, just quote me on that."

The 30 percent fee baseline, Wester argues, can trace its origins back to the economics of the home video market in the 1970s, when studios like Warner Bros. negotiated similar fees with retailers selling early VHS tapes. "That was physical. It cost a lot of money," he said. "This doesn't cost anything. So Epic has done a great job for the whole industry, because you get 88 percent. Fantastic move. Thank you very much."

Saying that it "doesn't cost anything" for stores like Steam to distribute and service a game is going a bit far. Beyond the simple costs associated with processing payments and providing download bandwidth, platforms often provide everything from multiplayer APIs to achievement and leaderboard systems to anti-cheat services and a whole host of other useful features. The Epic Game Store, with its undercutting 12 percent fees, does not provide many of these features as of yet (but the company does have a public roadmap for adding many of them in the near future).

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Posted in epic, epic game store, Gaming & Culture, revenue, Steam, Valve | Comments (0)

Indie developers suggest Steam Summer Sale confusion is hurting their games

June 27th, 2019
Despite the exciting imagery, Steam's Grand Prix promotion may be inadvertently harming some low-cost indie games on the platform.

Enlarge / Despite the exciting imagery, Steam's Grand Prix promotion may be inadvertently harming some low-cost indie games on the platform. (credit: Steam)

As part of this year's annual Steam Summer Sale, Valve is hosting a new "Grand Prix" promotion that gives participants a chance at free games if they complete certain daily "quests" on the platform. But confusion over how the promotion works seems to be leading Steam users to delete some low-cost indie games from their Steam wishlists in a misguided attempt to maximize the value of their potential winnings.

"We lost 1,500 wishlists in the first 24 hours of the sale," No More Robots Director Mike Rose told Ars regarding the four indie games the publisher sells on Twitter. "Usually you lose, like, 20 in a day."

No More Robots is far from alone. Mode 7 Games' Paul Kilduff-Taylor tweeted a graph showing wishlist deletions spiking to over 1,100 following the start of the sale on Tuesday. SixtyGig Games's Raymond Doerr showed a similar increase in deletions for his game at the same time, outpacing a smaller rise in additions and purchases from the wishlist. There are now enough anecdotal examples of this effect across multiple indie games, all starting on the first day of the sale, to suggest this marked increase is something more than random chance.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, indie, promotion, removal, Steam, summer sale, Valve, wishlist | Comments (0)

Twitch sues users who posted porn, racism, and more to Artifact stream page

June 19th, 2019
A capture shows the flood of "Ayaya" anime meme streams that took over Twitch's Artifact stream page in May.

Enlarge / A capture shows the flood of "Ayaya" anime meme streams that took over Twitch's Artifact stream page in May. (credit: Know Your Meme)

In a federal lawsuit filed last week, Twitch accuses 100 unnamed defendants of breaking its terms of service by flooding the site's directory of Artifact game streams with inappropriate content, including "a video of the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attack, hardcore pornography, copyrighted movies and television shows, and racist and misogynistic videos."

Inappropriate or irrelevant streams are nothing new on Twitch, of course. The company's Trust and Safety team uses a variety of moderation tools to take down streams that violate the site's terms of service and ban the users behind them. But the company is taking the added step of a lawsuit in this case because, according to the complaint, "Defendants’ actions threatened and continue to threaten Twitch and the safety of the Twitch community."

"Twitch took down the posts and banned the offending accounts, but the offensive video streams quickly reappeared using new accounts," the complaint continues. "It appears that Defendants use automated methods to create accounts and disseminate offensive material as well as to thwart Twitch’s safety mechanisms."

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Posted in artifact, Gaming & Culture, lawsuit, Legal, twitch, Valve | Comments (0)

Apple reversal allows Valve’s Steam Link streaming app on iOS, tvOS

May 16th, 2019

Valve's mobile Steam Link app, which lets users stream PC games to other screens inside and outside the home, is now available on Apple's iOS and tvOS App Stores.

The news comes almost a year after Apple revoked its approval for the Steam Link app to run on Apple hardware, citing what Valve said were "business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team." Apple and Valve have not responded to a request for comment on what exactly changed in the intervening time period.

As we said in our review last year, the Steam Link app works acceptably well if you have the 5Ghz wireless router that's close to the target device. Even then, you may notice some screen-tearing and stuttering on high-res games that require the most video bandwidth.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, iOS, Steam, tvos, Valve | Comments (0)

Epic discounts entire Game Store library in storewide “Mega Sale“ [Updated]

May 15th, 2019
Epic discounts entire Game Store library in storewide “Mega Sale“ [Updated]

Enlarge (credit: Epic)

[Update, May 16: The first ever "Epic Mega Sale" is now live, with discounts of up to 75% on every game in the Epic Games Store catalog through June 13. On top of those sale prices, purchasers receive an additional $10 off every game currently listed for at least $14.99 on the platform. That offer excludes DLC and in-game purchases, but includes pre-orders for upcoming titles (previous pre-orders will receive an automatic credit to reflect the savings).

Epic is also increasing the usual biweekly pace of its free game offers for the duration of the sale. Through June 13, a new free game will be offered on the service every week, starting with narrative adventure Stories Untold.]

Original Story

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Posted in epic, epic games store, Gaming & Culture, Steam, Valve | Comments (0)

Epic’s store continues to absorb PC gaming exclusives large and small

May 13th, 2019
<em>Breakpoint</em> is the first Ubsioft game in recent memory to never be made available on Steam.

Enlarge / Breakpoint is the first Ubsioft game in recent memory to never be made available on Steam.

Gamers hoping to stick with Steam and avoid Epic's major effort to compete in PC game distribution will have to ignore two more major upcoming PC titles, at least for a little while.

The first newly announced exclusive, Ubisoft's Ghost Recon Breakpoint, doesn't come as much of a surprise. Following The Division 2's last-minute move to the Epic Games Store in January, Epic and Ubisoft announced in March that the publisher would be bringing "several major PC releases" to Epic's store instead of Steam. Since then, Ubisoft moved historical real-time strategy title Anno 1800 away from Steam to the Epic Games Store ahead of its April 16 launch.

For those two titles, Ubisoft was put in the awkward position of having to honor Steam pre-orders that were made before the store transition took place. Breakpoint will be the first Ubisoft title in recent memory to never be available on Steam, however. The game is currently available only via Epic and Ubisoft's own UPlay store.

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Posted in epic, Gaming & Culture, Steam, Ubisoft, Valve | Comments (0)

Epic acquires Rocket League studio, bringing game to Epic’s store this year

May 1st, 2019
The blue car represents Psyonix leaping over Steam's... orange car? Look, it's a loose metaphor. Work with me here, people.

Enlarge / The blue car represents Psyonix leaping over Steam's... orange car? Look, it's a loose metaphor. Work with me here, people.

In a surprise move today, Epic Games announced it has "signed a definitive agreement" to acquire San Diego-based Psyonix and its 132 employees, who make the hit car-based soccer game Rocket League.

As part of the deal, the PC version of Rocket League will be moving to the Epic Game Store "in late 2019," Epic announced. "In the meantime, it will continue to be available for purchase on Steam; thereafter it will continue to be supported on Steam for all existing purchasers." Psyonix says it will continue to sell and support Rocket League on other platforms, including the PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, going forward.

"In the short term, nothing will change at all!" Psyonix writes in a blog post accompanying the announcement. "We’re still committed to providing Rocket League with frequent updates that have new features, new content, and new ways to play the game for as long as you’ll have us."

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Posted in epic, epic games store, Gaming & Culture, psyonix, rocket league, Steam, Unreal, Valve | Comments (0)

Gearbox’s Pitchford: Steam may be “a dying store” in 5 to 10 years

April 19th, 2019
"You can't get us on Steam, and that's a good thing."

Enlarge / "You can't get us on Steam, and that's a good thing."

Earlier this month, Gearbox drew some ire from Steam-loving Borderlands fans by announcing the next game in the series, due in September, would be exclusive to the Epic Games Store on PC. In a massive tweet thread earlier this week, though (helpfully collated in this reddit post), Gearbox founder and CEO Randy Pitchford defends that decision and highlights what he sees as the long-term positives that Epic's competition with Steam will bring to the industry.

While acknowledging that Epic's platform currently lacks many quality-of-life features available on Steam, Pitchford pointed to Epic's public road map for adding many of those features before September's Borderlands 3 launch. In fact, Pitchford sees the game's impending release as a "forcing function... that will, in turn, make all those features available on a faster timeline than otherwise possible... If I were to bet on this... Epic will inevitably surpass Valve on features and quality of service."

Pitchford acknowledges that publisher 2K and developer Gearbox could have hedged their bets by releasing on both Steam and Epic. But he added that he feels the entire industry will be better served in the long run if Borderlands 3's exclusivity can help make the Epic Games Store competitive with Steam. (The sizable investment Epic has made in paying to get exclusive content on its store probably didn't hurt, either)

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Posted in Borderlands, borderlands 3, epic, epic games store, Gaming & Culture, Gearbox, Pitchford, Randy Pitchford, Steam, Valve | Comments (0)