Steam’s new rules change how games stand out

Reward icons, discount notifications, and cashback points litter the Steam storefront in a photoshopped image.

Image: Lion / Kotaku

Yesterday, Valve released an update for developers who sell on their storefront. As of September 1st of this year, “Banner Images”, referred to as “Capsules” in Steamworks, will be restricted from including a variety of accolades, current sales, and more. In announcing the policy change, Gordon Freeman House states that the previous rules were not sufficiently defined.

Banner images are equivalent to cover art on Steam. They’re what you’d see in store listings, and they’re usually designed to grab your attention as quickly as possible: this often means fancy art, a prominent main character, and a title in big, bold letters. But it’s also been a place where developers show current sales, list rave reviews, show off awards the game might have won, or simply let you know there’s new DLC or a seasonal update. However, starting September 1st, developers will be allowed to show major updates, but will be prohibited from showing numbers or text that is not directly related to the game.

valve He shared news of the upcoming changes in an announcement on steamcommunity.com. Titled “New Rules for Graphic Asset Capsules,” the post details the company’s desire to “make it as easy as possible for customers to find games to buy and play on Steam.” For them, this includes no listings of high review scores, award names, symbols or logos, and absolutely no discount marketing copy.

The content in the base graphics asset capsules on Steam is limited to game artwork, the game name, and any official subtitles. For clarity, this means:

  1. There are no review scores of any kind, including Steam reviews or external news sources
  1. No award name, symbol or logo
  2. No discount marketing copy (eg no “on sale” or “up to 90% off” text)
  3. No text or image promoting another product. This does not include marketing other sequels or titles in the same franchise.
  4. There is no other miscellaneous text.

Images can be updated to notify customers of an update, such as a major DLC release or a seasonal update popular with live service games. However, there are limitations to it. Said updates can only be released for a month using what Valve calls “Artwork Overrides”. Additionally, the text – which should only be used to describe new content and nothing else – should be translated into any language the game supports.

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

The rule change will likely help clear up some of the text clutter that sometimes fills Steam, though it remains to be seen how developers react to the new guidelines and how strict Valve will be in enforcing them this September.

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