Report: Steam game platform lost 1 in 6 players this year

He was right at the middle of the venn diagram of snarky game mag culture, gamers themselves and the explosive youtuber phenomenon – just when that peculiar spot became incredibly important. Not enough has been said about how tragically influential he was and how badly he blew it. And it never can be because of everything else that has already been said.


I never really enjoyed his stuff. So maybe I just didn’t catch it right.

But given how much of his involvement in all that was built around the “logic and reason”, “free speech bro” approaches and presentstion of really superficial detail about what was happening. Even before the headline stuff like Gamergate took off. I don’t know if I’d characterize it as “blowing it”.

All of that stuff was already a standard tactic with nascent alt right groups and online trolls. And so much of that is a smug “I am being reasonable” attempt to advocate and spread toxicity while dodging judgement or argument that I can help but think it was likely deliberate.

He certainly gave a lot of people who weren’t paying attention, or directly experience the alt right’s webernet’s rise the wrong idea. And gave a lot of people who wanted to cover their own asses one way or another a frame work for doing so.


This is probably a result of the crackdown on meme games, achievement spam, and trading card spam. There was a massive botting economy built around idling and forcing unlocks of achievements to get trading cards. It became unsustainable after the crackdown, so we’re seeing a drop in the number of bot accounts.


I dunno… Steam has explicitly said they will allow any game to go up if people pay the fee unless it’s blatantly a scam or hate speech, contrary to what they said, um, last year. And people are probably voting with their feet because, really, who can find quality stuff in the massive shitheap that’s the steam front page?

Furthermore, my impression was that Steam had already tossed the bots and had placed limits on achievements, etc in ~December. This drop in users is more recent than that.

He clearly blew it. I mean, Gamergate idolizes him and holds him up as an icon when he had gone out of his way to condemn a lot of their shit (like the post 2016 election meltdown and the time he banned about a third of his subscriber base and refunded their money when they mocked his trans guests). He always wanted to do right by his friends, but his actions contributed greatly to a lot of his friends’ suffering by association. So yeah, by his own measures he royally fucked the dog.


When Fortnite and their own no-curration finally kill their ability to rake it in Apple style? Why bother to create when you can make more money pimping other people’s creativity?

Yeah, I snark, but Valve is a corporation at the end of the day and it’s owners are going to do whatever makes them the most money.


Their new game is a card game, rip off of Hearthstone. So they’re aiming their sights real low as far as effort goes. Beyond that it’s just updates to DOTA 2, CSGO and TF2, this is why i really want to see Valve broken up to force the studio to actually make games while someone else takes care of the business end of Steam.


Ditto. I was a big fan of their main productions before Steam ate their business model. But games like that take a large investment and I don’t see that happening as long as they dominate the platform market.

Happy Cake Day, BTW!




Well, about that…

Gabe Newell reiterated that Valve is getting back into developing new games beyond its current roster of multiplayer titles.

So there’s hope! But maybe a fool’s hope. I’ll believe it when something is announced.

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Gabe Newell: ‘Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again’

And the game in question was the Hearthstone-like card game for DOTA 2. Short of them doing a proper title i’m not going to pay much attention to Valve.

The pull quote i included seems to contradict that though. He’s talking about games other than their multiplayer titles.

They’re notorious for all kinds of research and work on stuff that never sees the light of day so i’m kind of jaded to it. They’ve done research on sign language for games, AR, speech recognition, and lots more that hasn’t resulted in tangible games since Portal 2. At this point the only thing that will give me hope is legitimate news on what they’re doing and not vague promises they’ve engaged in since HL2. Right now the only news isee is a card game so you must understand my complete lack of enthusiasm.

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Well yeah, i’m well aware of valve time and the promises you point to (i recall something about a biomonitor tracking your stress levels), not to mention the whole lotta nothing that were steam machines. It seemed at one point they were only interested in making hats for TF2 and now this card game shite. I suspect the artifact reaction was not what they were hoping for but that’s just a guess!

Not currently have Steam running in online mode. I’m not sure exactly what impact popular multiplayer games on Steam have, as they would mean that people are spending long times connected to Steam. (In some cases, people are creating account[s] just to play one online game, so I’m guessing they change the user numbers noticeably.) I’m also wondering if any of Steam’s attempts to shut down access to its data for third-parties has skewed these numbers or if that data has been unaffected.

Honestly, I don’t even bother anymore, ever since the deluge of games hit. I used to look at every new game that came out. Now, I read about an interesting game somewhere and search for it on Steam (and even that functionality isn’t always great). If they have it, I stick it in my wishlist and wait for it to go on sale (or appear in a bundle elsewhere). That’s the only way I interact with Steam’s actual storefront. Trying to actually discover new games seems a Sisyphean task.

Oh, do so, absolutely! The connect program somewhat randomly makes games eligible on an irregular basis, and they’re only available for a limited time, so you have to regularly check back to see if any games you own are on the list. It’s a bit of a pain because most of the time there’s no games that are eligible, and it’s most likely to happen around the times of big sales, but since they started the program a couple years ago, I’ve duplicated at least 60-70 games from my Steam library into my GOG library.

Valve suffers from what I think of as “successful studio syndrome,” writ large. I’ve seen this happen multiple times - a game studio gets a big enough hit that they’re in a position where they have so much money they no longer need to release a game to survive. So they sit there and play with ideas, start and abandon projects, etc. until they run out of money and need to release a game to avoid being shut down (at which point it’s a toss up as to which actually happens). For Valve it’s even worse - Steam provides unlimited income, so even if they didn’t have successful multiplayer games funding them (which they do), they wouldn’t ever need to release a game to survive. Plus, the way they’re internally structured, people work on whatever they want to - which goes against releasing AAA-style games that require sustained efforts of large numbers of people and which, at various times, become uninteresting slogs to work on.
Their best bet at putting another game out is to pick up teams that already have games in development, like they did with Portal or more recently in buying up Firewatch developers Campo Santo (who hopefully will produce at least one more game before they succumb to Valve culture). Otherwise they’re going to noodle around with whatever seems interesting - but not financially remunerative - without much incentive to even follow up on what innovations they do release.


Yeah I had fully checked out by then. I’m not saying the guy was a enthusiastic supporter of the ideology. Or didn’t figure out the impact he was having and regret it.

But Gamergate and the shit that immediately preceded it wasn’t gaming culture suddenly becoming toxic. It had always been toxic. In much that way, or subtler version of the same. I remember being pretty put off by it back in the 90s is the whole thing coalesced. It’s always been judgemental, exclusionary, And really really entitled and it’s always weird and problematic when people center their personal identity in an interest or hobby in place of something like ethnicity or politics. The comic book guys were worse in that regard for a long time.

Biscuits schtick always seemed to sit fairly well in all that. And there are and were a lot of major voices in “gaming” media that did as well. “Analysis” based on what gamer’s want, are owed or insider knowledge rather than anything resembling critical analysis. Major point of criticism and quality judgement being presumed business practices and their impact on the tru-fans rather than anything to do with art. Simple mechanics are bad/selling out, even when their better. Games are art if you attack them. But they’re just games bro, if you treat them like art in a way I don’t like. Fundamentally reactive and defensive. Even if he was on the friendlier end of it, even if he cloaked it in supposed high mindedness. He fit right in there. Part of the reason I never had any interest in the guy. I smelled it on him as soon as I was introduced.

And the people who would later become Gamergate. Both the toxic gamer and the political nuts who would later turn into the alt right. Were throwing Totalbiscuit links around for a pretty long time before he explicitly tied himself to it. As a sort of conversation win card. Or proof that whatever they were on about wasn’t crazy business.

Its the exact dynamic that had the political end of it and the trolls convinced that gamer culture was fertile ground for recruitment and astroturfing.

So when I say it was deliberate. I don’t neccisarily mean that he was a full and enthusiastic supporter of the politics of it, trying to find a way to pitch it. Just that he was amenable to the ideas in their less explicit form. And even more amenable to the approach. I think it was unconscious bias showing. I don’t think he was fooled, or misinformed, or drew the wrong conclusion. Or doing it for views. Or trying to avoid getting attacked by either side. I think at base, he bought in to the whole theme of the thing. Even if it clashed with his stated politics, or he didn’t know why. And he sought to justify and excuse it rather than examining why this nasty thing appealed to him so much. He had a position, a side. And he was looking to win.

And in so doing he gave a lot of similar people a rubric. Either the disingenuous to cover their asses. Or the similarly blinkered to excuse their bias. He was privileged enough that he didn’t see and dismissed the damage he was causing. And the swamp it had all grown out of.

And by the time that he realized where it’d all lead him it was a bit too late. I’m still seeing Totalbuscuit thrown around, even the late stuff. To justify all sorts of shit, in and out of the context of video games. He certainly tried to undo some of what he did, or at least mitigate. But I’ve never caught anything indicating he took a careful look at himself to figure out how and why he had done it.

So apart from the whole dead thing (which is sad), I had trouble feeling bad for the guy.

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It’s the curse of letting your employees work on whatever they find interesting. Once things start to coalesce into an actual game they get boring and people leave. I wouldn’t be surprised if Half-Life 3 wasn’t started at least 5 times.

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Plenty of successful games would kill to have PUBG’s audience.

Honestly, in the 2000s/2010s, most of geek culture was judgmental and exclusionary; heck, most of geek culture was that way because they were judged and excluded. You only need to look at then-contemporary geek hierarchies to remember the bad old days of geekdom (also, it was hard as heck to find a readable copy of this chart… maybe people feel ashamed of it in the late 2010s?). While there was a lot of pride in shared geekdom, there was also a lot of looking down at people for their geeky hobbies and, of course, geekdom was looked down upon by the mainstream and often disowned.

My feeling is TB tried to make the space less toxic, and this is where he failed. I think he knew there was a problem, but couldn’t understand how he contributed to it, at least, not until it was too late, so all he could do was react to the symptoms. And that lack of self-awareness is what makes me feel bad for him and his. Maybe his efforts to forge a path between the Gators and the likes of Anita Sarkeesian will eventually bear fruit, but I’m not optimistic.


Yes, I’m referring to stuff like that self-important email to Quinn when I say “he blew it.” There were other things he did that were nastier and make it harder (or at least less interesting?) to discuss the more revealing talk.

Imagine yourself as a generically (not even specifically) young cynical british man of the early 2010s. You’re educated, skeptical, well-attuned to the ways and means of internet bullshit. The traditional media’s own nonsense animates your views: you dance upon its failures and frailties like a ballet master. You have a certain contempt for extreme politics, for religion, for dogma, for bigotry. You’re provocative yet centered, cosily detached. Maybe you have that clipped sneery voice that Americans always fall for.

If this is you, you are doomed to get played by right-wing dorks. They have got your number. You are so easily led into playing the magnanimous host to your marginalized lessers, and you’ll never have the slightest clue how this serves reactionary interests.

Far from the most important thing about Gamergate but one of its many aspects that spread to mainstream media and trumptime afterward.


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