Valve are considered the posterchild for PC gaming. Steam is essential for any gamer looking to get the best out of PC gaming – and for the most part it works. But Valve have a history of messing up. From questionable decisions to inaction – everyone’s favorite developer has a habit of letting things slide in on their watch.
We figured we’d take a look at the times that Valve dropped the ball, causing misery or annoyance for gamers who use their products.
Remember when Valve made a big deal about Steam Machines? Remember how they sold poorly and were basically abandoned within a year of launch?
Steam Machines were intended to make the process of buying gaming PC’s easier. Creating set standards for hardware, the idea was to try and entice casual gamers into the Steam ecosystem. It was designed to bring in console gamers – by lowering the price of entry. The likes of Alienware and Dell were on board from the start, but the wheels came off the platform long before it hit market.
Delays and rumors of hardware manufacturers not being happy with support surrounded the platform. When it did launch, it was more of a dribble than a confident new platform. Within months, Valve had all but stopped talking about the platform – leaving it to wilt and die in the sun. Reportedly sales were terrible, speeding up the process of killing the platform.
Intended to serve as a connecting tissue between Linux and Steam, SteamOS caused a lot of excitement when it was unveiled back in 2015. Alongside Steam Machines, this OS was intended to offer a streamlined, minimalist footprint. It just never really caught on.
While the dream of Linux-based gaming will always persist, there’s a sense that Valve overestimated the demand here. It also doesn’t help that they were likely trying to one-up Microsoft, cutting out Windows in a spiteful game of tit-for-tat. Once it became obvious that Steam Machines weren’t the big sellers Valve dreamed of, SteamOS became less of a priority.
There’s still a very dedicated user base around this product. But it’s hard to get beyond the feeling that Valve have already begun to forget about their once promising platform
Outsourcing PlayStation 3’s Orange Box to EA
Orange Box will always be considered one of the greatest gaming bundles of all time. That is unless you picked it up on PlayStation 3.
For this version of the game, Valve handed development over to EA. There were numerous reasons for this (Notably Valve’s lack of experience with the CELL processor) but it was a decision that sank the potential of this version of the game.
The PlayStation 3 Orange Box was a bad joke. Plagued with frame rate issues, lack of updates and a general lack of care. To say this was the only way gamers could experience one of the greatest games of all time is tragic – it’s a terrible port. By not ensuring their usual stamp of approval – Valve effectively ripped off PlayStation 3 users. Yes they got a better deal with Portal 2, but there’s no denying that they dropped the ball when it came to this version of the game.
Team Fortress 2’s Console Support
Team Fortress 2 is an amazing game. Released as part of the Orange Box, Valve’s multiplayer hit landed on consoles and helped to create a good swell of support for the excellent shooter. Then Valve stopped updating it.
While the PC version of the game has received numerous updates, the last time Xbox 360 users got an update came in 2009. Valve themselves said this wasn’t acceptable at all – then proceeded to nothing about it. For those gamers who couldn’t play on PC – Team Fortress 2 slowly became irrelevant as its PC sibling got all the attention. Awkwardly, the PS3 version got an update when Portal 2 landed – then Valve left that to wilt in the sun.
It’s another sign of how Valve’s long-term support for the popular games isn’t as strong as it needs to be (This applies somewhat to CS:GO as well).
When Valve announced that it was opening up a mod marketplace, there was a mixed reaction from gamers. Typically mods for popular games are free – labors of love crafted by fans. This was Valve’s first attempt at drawing money from them – and they chose Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls.
Within hours of launch, it broke the games community. Mod creators pulled their free mods, pushing them into the mod store. With no guarantee of long-term support, people were effectively buying untested, unknown content. It didn’t take long for scam artists to steal other peoples work – trying to make a quick buck off their stolen goods. It was an absolute mess – and Valve were harshly criticized for not protecting all party’s.
They quickly pulled the store within the day, the idea a flaming failure in the eyes of gamers. While mod makers deserve repurations for their efforts, this was not the way to do it.
Outsourcing Customer Support
Anyone who’s had the misfortune of bumping into Steam’s Customer Service will know that it’s not the best. So bad was their Customer Service that in 2015, they were granted an F by the Better Business Bureau – the lowest grade they can offer.
Over the years, Valve have said that they want to improve the situation, but their steps almost always end up feeling lackluster. Losing access to your account can result in a long, frustrating wait.
Turns out this has been caused largely down to the fact that Valve outsourced their customer service.
In theory (a lot like most of this list) Steam Greenlight should have been a great place for indie developers. Lowering the bar for entry, Greenlight aimed to give a space on the Steam Store to those who couldn’t compete with AAA-developers.
The first few months of Greenlight were impressive. A number of great games passed through the service, usually a dozen at a time. Within months though, there were complaints that Valve’s vetting service took to long to clear games. Their response? Effectively letting every game that cleared Greenlight through – no questions asked.
Bar a few extreme cases, Greenlight became a cesspool for low quality offerings. From asset stealers through to minimal effort tech demos, it became insanely easy to game the system and push a rubbish game through Greenlight.
Half Life 3
We’re sure Valve are sick of people asking about Half Life 3 at this point.
Then again, maybe they shouldn’t have left the last Half Life game on such a cliffhanger.
Half Life 3 is as infamous for its non-existence as it is for being a thing. The much desired sequel was mentioned, then banished from Valve’s vocabulary. To be clear – if they didn’t want people to talk about this game, maybe they should have ended Half Life 2: Episode 2 with a conclusive ending…