Is Valve in Trouble in 2019?
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People who follow companies may have noticed something is not exactly right with Valve. The company has had constant problems with Steam over 2017 and 2018, ones that could continue into 2019 and beyond if not addressed. Worse, its latest game is showing some other issues. Artifact, a DOTA card game, could benefit from balancing and a reworking of the economy, since it currently is structured in a way where a part of it seems to be about helping make sure Valve gets more money. Now is the time to reevaluate and regroup.

First, let's think about the kind of game Valve has given us most recently. Artifact starts at $19.99. You can buy additional card packs in-game for $2. Except you don't know what you will get. Also, if you want to buy specific cards in the market, that is an additional fee. One where Valve takes its cut from each sale, of course. There's no sense of progression at the moment and one can imagine a future where Valve cranks out additional card packs for more money. While developers and companies don't "owe" people any games, Artifact shows that the company has, as a creator, stepped away from the sorts of experiences Half-Life and Portal offered, in favor of ones like Artifact and DOTA where it can continue to make money. It's unfortunate.


Customer service has been a continuing issue. Yes, it very easy to get a refund now, which is great! Of course, part of that was probably implemented due to government pressure, but still. The real problem comes when someone has an issue that can't be solved with getting your money back soon. If you needed help with your account, you might be waiting days for proper satisfaction. It's still a problem and people could use more assistance, whether they're a consumer or a person selling a game on the storefront.

Valve needs to work on revenue sharing. Right now, Valve has a 70/30 split, where it gets 30% of the money from a game sale. Epic Games already showed it up with 88/12 share with its new game store. Discord took it a step further, with a 90/10 split in its shop. Basically, Valve has to step it up. It needs to be more fair to the companies that want to sell there. Some consideration needs to be shown.

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There are also the continuing issues with unclear game guidelines. Valve has been all over the place when it comes to what games can and can't appear on Steam. Originally, the company was restrictive about what could be on there. Then, practically any legitimate game was in. There were limits on games with mature elements for a while. Then, in June 2018, it said any game could be on the store as long as it wasn't "straight up trolling" or illegal. Except again, without any clarification or warning, Valve started removing visual novels with some more mature elements or young protagonists in December 2018.

Valve needs to shift its focus. Instead of trying to get more money off of games like DOTA, Artifact, and CS:GO, it needs to tighten up Steam. There is a lot of room for improvement there. The company could offer a better revenue split. It could put together improved content guidelines and actually curate the content there. It could spend more time on customer service. Now might be a good time for Valve to reevaluate its priorities and focus on the distributor, before getting back into the games.

Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada

Site Editor
Date: 01/04/2019

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