New Steam rules change how games stand out

Reward symbols, discount announcements, and review ratings clutter the Steam storefront with a photoshopped image.

Image: Valve / Kotaku

Yesterday, Valve released an update for developers who sell in their store. Starting September 1 this year, banner images, referred to as “capsules” on Steamworks, will no longer be allowed to include various commendations, ongoing sales, and more. In the announcement of the policy change, the house of Gordon Freeman states that the previous rules were not defined well enough.

Banner images are the Steam equivalent of cover art. These are what you see on listings in the store, and they’re usually meant to grab your attention as quickly as possible: it often means quirky art, a standout protagonist, and a name written in big, stylized letters. But it was also the place where the developers reported on ongoing sales, listed rave reviews, bragged about any awards the game might have received, or just let you know about new DLC or seasonal updates. However, from September 1, developers will be allowed to indicate major updates, but they will be prohibited from displaying numbers or other text that is not directly related to the game.

Valve shared the news about upcoming changes in the announcement on steamcommunity.com. Titled “New Rules for Graphics Asset Capsules,” the post details the company’s commitment to “make everything as clear and understandable as possible for customers to find games to buy and play on Steam.” For them, this includes listing high review scores, award names, symbols or logos, and absolutely no discounted marketing copy.

Content in Steam Base Image Capsules is limited to game art, game title, and any official subtitles. For clarity, this means:

  1. No ratings in reviews, including Steam reviews or external news sources.
  1. No award names, symbols or logos.
  2. Discounted marketing text (for example, without “On sale now” or “Up to 90% off”)
  3. No text or images promoting another product. This does not include the marketing of sequels or other games in the same franchise.
  4. No other miscellaneous text.

Images can be updated to notify customers of updates such as a major DLC release or seasonal updates popular on online services. However, there are some limitations to this as well. Said updates may only be available for a month using what Valve calls an “art override”. In addition, text that should only be used to describe new content and nothing else should be localized into any languages ​​supported by the game.

For those who want to show off their high review scores, Valve specifies that developers must follow the rules outlined in “Store Page Accolades Documentation on Steamworks. These are the accolades you see on a particular game’s store page, often on the right side of the page.

This rule change will likely help clear up some of the textual clutter that sometimes fills Steam, although it remains to be seen how developers will react to the new rules and how strict Valve will be in enforcing them when they go into effect this September.

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