Nov 2nd, 2016


Back in August when No Man’s Sky released and the world discovered the game wasn’t exactly what Sean Murray of Hello Games promised, a huge campaign took off on reddit to get refunds from Sony and Steam. Some gamers reported that they were able to get a refund of the game despite being past the 2 hour time limit for the game thanks to the misleading advertising featured on No Man’s Sky’s store page.

I can confirm myself that I had 15 hours of play and was able to obtain a refund from Steam support after stating that I felt misled by the game due to the advertising that appeared on the game’s store page. The primary problem with this advertisement is it featured a UI that is not in the game and the first video was the infamous E3 trailer in which several pieces of content showcased were found not to be in the final game.

Now it looks like Steam is finally taking some action against how developers present their games on the storefront, starting with themselves. In a new private post aimed at informing developers of upcoming changes to the Steam store, Valve outlined how it will be changing the images and advertisements surrounding games, starting with their own content.


Valve admits that the way they advertise DOTA 2 is inconsistent with their new policy, which they highlight as one of the things they’ll be changing when this policy goes live sometime in the next few weeks. Here’s the portion of the post that says developers must now only use the screenshot section in Steam to show actual screenshots of their game instead of concept art, pre-rendered stills, and whatever else game developers use to try and market their 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. 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. Additionally, we’re going to start showing game screenshots in more places as described above, and these images need to be able to represent the game.

We ask that any images you upload to the ‘screenshot’ section of your store page should be screenshots that show your game. This means avoiding using concept art, pre-rendered cinematic stills, or images that contain awards, marketing copy, or written product descriptions. Please show customers what your game is actually like to play.

These changes aren’t live on the Steam store yet, but it’s heartening to see Valve require that publishers stop misrepresenting their games with their screenshots and videos. This hurts Valve too, because when they have to refund games that are falsely advertised, they give up their 30% cut of that sale, too.

No Man’s Sky wasn’t the first time customers were able to use advertising as a way to recoup their funds from a game they felt didn’t deserve it, but hopefully, it will be the last with these new guidelines in place.