Steam cracks down on misleading 'bullshots'

November 2, 2016 // 10:27 a.m.

Tags: #bullshot #digital-distribution #facebook #facebook-gameroom #gameroom #hello-games #no-mans-sky #steam #valve

Valve has announced that it is cracking down on the use of misleading imagery on its Steam digital distribution platform, as anger over alleged mis-selling of high-profile indie explore-'em-up No Man's Sky continues to bubble.

Steam, in common with most digital distribution platforms, allows developers and publishes to upload supporting imagery to better sell their titles to the masses. Most Steam listings open with one or more auto-playing videos then offer a range of still images for the user to scroll through. Previously, though, there has been nothing stopping publishers from uploading non-screenshot imagery such as concept art or renderings, with even Valve itself showcasing illustrations rather than screenshots on selected titles.

The result is that some less scrupulous developers are able to showcase images that are considerably different to the game people are buying - a practice colloquially known as 'bullshots,' a portmanteau of 'bullshit' and 'screenshots.' One developer accused of such activity is Hello Games, which is facing an Advertising Standards Authority investigation into claims that it has screenshots and video footage on the No Man's Sky page which include graphics and features simply not present in the released game.

'We haven’t been super crisp on guidelines for screenshots in the past, so we’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some rules in this space,' Valve's Alden Kroll wrote in an update to registered Steamworks developers which has since been shared with the press. 'When the "screenshot" section of a store page is used for images other than screenshots that depict the game, it can make it harder for customers to understand what the product is that they are looking at.'

Accordingly, when Valve's Steam Discovery 2.0 update goes live, which was announced to developers back in September, developers and publishers will be expected to use real screenshots from the publicly available build of their games. Neither Kroll nor Valve, however, have indicated how - or if - the requirement will be policed.

The change comes as social networking giant Facebook launches its own game-themed digital distribution platform, dubbed Facebook Gameroom, which offers the ability to purchase and install games using a Facebook account and takes the same 30 percent slice of the revenue as Valve's Steam platform.
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