Steam has gotten a little weird lately. It’s gone from being a place to buy major games that occasionally had really good sales to being a place that’s… well, something of a dumping ground for indie games, and also you can buy games from major publishers unless they have their own storefront. Which most of them do now.
There’s been some major confusion in the last year as to what exactly is allowed on Steam, since the concept of “curation” appears to have flown right out the window at about the same time as they ditched the Greenlight concept. Right now, the rules seem to be that almost anything goes, and the result has been a ton of pretty low-effort games. I’ve actually bought a few of these when they show up in my recommendations list, mostly because I respect the hustle of taking a Unity coding example, slapping some art on it, and marketing it as a real game.
This brings me to “Fist of Love”, a game where you play rock, paper, scissors against a small selection of attractive opponents. It’s not much of a game, more of a quick way to get a bunch of Steam achievements, and it’s not surprising that it got delisted.
It was also only 24 cents. So, really, it’s hard to expect a lot of game for that.
More interesting than the actual game, though, is what I noticed after playing it, because it’s basically invisible. It doesn’t show in the “recently played games” on your profile page and you can’t see the achievements list unless you’re actually in-game. I did get a trading card after playing it, though, and this had attributes I’ve never seen on a card before:
For the record, here’s a trading card from another game I have, “Afterfall InSanity Extended Edition”. This game was likewise delisted – you can’t buy it any more and it doesn’t have a store page. Still…
…this game’s cards can still be bought and sold on the marketplace. If you want an “Afterfall” badge, there are a couple hundred of every card available right now, for about a nickel per.
So there are apparently a couple levels of delisted games – ones that Steam acknowledges in at least some sense, and ones that it wants to pretend didn’t ever exist.
Still, you can use the Booster Pack maker to make a pack of trading cards for Fist of Love…
…and there is a trade forum…
…and between these, I was able to throw together what will probably remain my rarest Steam badge ever:
So that’s a very odd little accomplishment.
The strange thing is, it’s not particularly unusual for these sorts of barely-games to show up on Steam and then get taken down after a few days. What’s unusual is that they’re not normally supposed to get trading cards. There’s a waiting period after any new game is published where it has to hit a certain number of sales and a certain number of actual players before the cards get turned on, so at some point Fist of Love hit that threshold and got the Valve blessing of “OK, you’re a real game now” before falling down the memory hole.
Still, I can download and install and run it. So even if Valve wants to pretend it never existed, they’re not yanking back the rights I paid for with that quarter. And it did inspire me to use the trade forum, which was a new experience, and I got a blog post out of it. So all around, I’ll call that a win.
There are positives and negatives to Steam’s new policy. It’s great to see legitimate 18+ games with some real quality to them on a high-profile platform — I’m thinking specifically of stuff like Nekopara and Evenicle here — but it’s also opened the door to a variety of manipulative shit.
The trouble is, the devs of a lot of these games know that many, many Steam users are indeed dumb enough to pay money for a game that has 6,000 achievements that all look like letters, just so they can spell out profanities in their Achievement Showcase on their profile. That and it’s pretty well-established that people will buy games just to idle for trading cards.
Not coincidentally, I don’t use Steam much these days! I’ll buy a physical copy for console by preference, then if I want a digital PC version of something I’ll tend to favour GOG or direct from the publisher rather than Steam where possible.
I’m not entirely off Steam, but it makes up much less of my gaming time and budget. The only “big” PC game I bought from them this year was Assassin’s Creed: Rogue and that technically gave me an Uplay key. I do go to them for trashy visual novels and weird indie games, though.
I’m torn between wishing they had better curation and knowing that if they DID have better curation, the kinds of people who sign up for that sort of job are the sort of busybodies that absolutely should never have any curation powers whatsoever. 🙂
Oh and people who spell out things on their steam profiles are just silly who does that.