Today, Valve has announced a public beta of the new 2010 User Interface (UI) for the Steam digital distribution platform. Improvements abound(from better game library management to replacing Internet Explorer with a WebKit based rendering engine) that not only increase speed and security, but bolster rumors about a Linux or Mac client.
But the one feature that intrigued me the most, was the debut of news feeds. From the UI Update page:
“Thanks to auto-updating, Steam has for a long time made it easy to keep up to date with the latest versions of your games. But it has sometimes remained tricky to stay up on the latest gaming news. The new Steam lets you know what has happened lately, either about your favorite games or in the broader world of computer gaming. A new central aggregated news page lists all available channels for easy reading, viewable as headlines only or full stories. Each game has a new dedicated news channel of its own, right inside your game library. Interested in the latest news about Plants Vs. Zombies? Look no further than your own game list. Game-specific news is even now accessible inside each game, via the new and improved Steam overlay. And all of this news isn’t just the stuff written back at Steam headquarters — we’re passing through articles written directly by each game’s developer or publisher, and even syndicated feeds from top computer gaming sources.”
“News outlets now have the ability to reach the Steam community through the new client’s News aggregator functionality. Those organizations interested can contact Doug Lombardi at <email removed>”
This could be very interesting…
Feeding news on your favorite games is a great idea, but what would be shown for “broader” computer gaming news? Will it stay focused on games in general? Only Feeding news on newly announced games, release dates, etc. Or will it show more inclusive, serious news stories and articles? Some that may not portray Valve, or companies that publish games on Steam, in the best light?
Take, for instance, Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford. He’s had some not-so-pleasant things to say about the Steam platform, and Valve in general. Borderlands and its DLC are available on Steam. Seeing how it states they will “pass through articles written directly by each games developer or publisher.” If Randy Pitchford decided to write some unpleasant things about Steam, be it directly or in an article about Borderlands, would Valve allow it?
What about the Ubisoft DRM issue? Every news outlet, including this one, has been demonizing them(with good reason) over their new security measures. But Ubisoft has games on Steam. Valve wants to keep their support, and Ubi would surely not appreciate negative press in a marketplace where people purchase their games.
Those who frequent it, know that Valve heavily polices their forums. With this news aggregator, should we assume Valve will allow such articles? Will there be censorship to keep publishers happy? Will Valve lay down ground rules for those feeding news? These new features could possibly be the most exciting thing about Steam to date, but could some be condemned to scrutiny before they are even implemented?