Epic addresses store roadmap, privacy; Steam finally confronts review bombing

    
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No, this isn't it.

If you’ve been waiting impatiently for the Epic Store to have various expected features like cloud saves and user reviews, the good news is that these features are on their way to the storefront in the next three months according to a new development roadmap. There are also plans for mod support, wish list, and additional payment options, so there’s clearly a long-term plan in place for support. Company head Tim Sweeney also took the time to address user privacy concerns, noting that several of the concerns raised were based chiefly around misunderstandings rather than security leaks.

Meanwhile, Steam is finally tightening up its measures to avoid review bombing by actually promising to step in on signs that numerous negative and spurious reviews are being unloaded to bomb a specific game. You can read the full development blog outlining the (by necessity) fuzzy side of the moderation policy, a tacit admission that the previous measures separating overall reviews from recent ones was not functioning as intended. Valve also had to step in and actually moderate matters over the weekend by removing a large number of tributes to the New Zealand shooter.

Source: Gamasutra (1, 2), Steam, Kotaku
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Mitzruti
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Mitzruti

A quote from someone on the Xcom 2 steam forum (in a thread where people are justifiably upset that Pheonix Point bait-and-switched it’s availability). I’m not sure if it’s 100% accurate, but it is super worrying that they’d even consider doing it in such a way:

“Everytime you use Epic Game Store they are stealing Steam Data from your PC without your consent and repackaging it in a new location. It only asks for your consent AFTER this process is finished, and does not delete the repackaged data after you agree or disagree to the full process.

Furthermore the CEO claims this is only so they can link your Steam friends to your EGS account, but the data being accessed is far more than just your friends list. They are also refusing to use the Steam API, which allows for access to this specific information while still protecting user data and privacy settings on Steam. The method EGS uses completely bypasses all security and privacy settings on your account.

He also claims this is to “speed up the process”, a process that shouldn’t take much time and is generally a one-off anyways, and also claiming that it’s to cut down on third party libraries in their software.”

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cursedseishi

Eh, it’s nice that Steam is moving (like molasses in near-Absolute Zero conditions as usual) to finally do something about review bombs… But it’s hardly a fix. One of the ‘off-topic’ things they list as not relating to the game is DRM mechanisms in a title.

Problem is, though, time and time again it has been show that DRM–especially those implemented improperly or even just poorly–have noticeable effects on a game’s ability to run. Depending on the title, it might not matter terribly if one has a high-end computer but those who don’t? We’re talking frame rate drops of ten+ easily on what might already only run 30 or so.

And while they have been dealing with the recent one, it hasn’t done anything for other accounts and groups that exist (and have existed for a while) that celebrate other horrible individuals. They do have a large base, I know, to try and moderate and no amount of money will likely fix that… But at the same time, these groups and people don’t hide themselves either. And I’d imagine even just implementing a verification step to creating groups and a monitoring period would be nice and go a small ways to stop it or at the very least prevent it.

As for Epic? I was surprised to see mod support not there already, considering how much of the store front is also necessary to run the engine and editors now, but it is good to see them moving quickly to implement it. One could probably also argue my tolerance for multiple launchers is somewhat higher thanks to the number of free MMOs I’ve played over the years so having one more isn’t that big a hassle. I’ve largely been using it for the free games as they’ve popped up.

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Schmidt.Capela

It likely won’t affect DRM-based review bombing; the method Valve has chosen is to flag whole days during which the review bombing happened and remove from the score all reviews during those days, both the negative and the positive ones.

The thing is, DRM-based review bombing tends to be concentrated on the first few days after release, and not be enough to significantly move the score. Removing those reviews under Valve’s proposed method would also remove all the (usually positive) early reviews of the game, potentially leaving it in a worse situation than if the DRM-motivated review bombing was allowed to stand.

Also, you likely can bypass it for your own review if you wait a week or two before review-bombing, which should place it long enough after the peak to avoid the removed days.

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cursedseishi

It depends on the game though, mind. A small title? Yeah, you likely won’t see much of a stir. But any time you see Steam’s algorithm tripped by review bombings to warn you about a surge of negative reviews, you’ll see this in effect–and Valve doesn’t care about affecting the review score either since in their eyes dumping the babies out with the slightly pooed in bath water will balance out everything for the next set of babies they mindlessly dump into it.

Sonic Mania had that triggered for them, and it was solely over the DRM and despite the score not dipping into the negatives (750 roughly negatives compared to about 2400 positives upon release). Because it isn’t the average that is monitored, it is mostly the thumbs-downs. And true, I COULD wait a week or two, but then what? Most purchases happen either at launch or immediately around it, at which point again you could have individuals suddenly running into problems that reviews would of warned them about if they had been posted. Issues like, again, Sonic Mania’s DRM which completely broke the game’s offline mode for a largely single player title. At the very least, though, this change can be disabled… However its enabled by default with no warning. Which shouldn’t of been all that difficult to have a notification boot up on Steam’s launch to inform one of the change, rather than try and slip it in unnoticed.

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Greaterdivinity

Hope they banned every account that was updated to post a “tribute” to the shooter, and that those users lost all their games permanently.

That’s unacceptable to the extreme and they can cry all they want about their games being “stolen” from them. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Sorry but they can’t do that. If they deleted accounts and stole all the games of people who were garbage humans, at least half of all Steam accounts would be gone.

These people have a right to the games they purchased no matter what views they may have.

I’m certainly not defending them, they are trash and society should be prevented from having to be polluted by people like that. And yet so many people online are horrible in one way or another – like all the time each and every day. Steam doesn’t get to steal all their games no matter what picture or name they put up in their profiles.

I would agree about locking their social abilities to talk to other people, update their profiles, etc, but they don’t get to have all the games they purchased taken from them. Once we get into that, you never know who and what view you may take that may get all of your games taken from you. So we have to let these pieces of filth keep their games.

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Fervor Bliss

Good for Valve for taking down tributes to the New Zealand shooter. More companies need to edit what is published on their platform.

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Schmidt.Capela

The only thing that could make me take another look at Epic’s store is if they announced an end to their exclusivity contracts. As long as they have even a single exclusivity contract with a third party developer I will never purchase anything from the store, and I’ll likely avoid purchasing from any developer that has an exclusivity contract with Epic any of their other games too.

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BalsBigBrother

While I welcome another store front to the market place I have to agree exclusivity is not the way to make want to use the platform.

By all means compete on price, features and collectors editions and so on. Exclusivity is not consumer friendly imo and makes me less inclined to buy the thing whatever it may be.

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Jeremy Barnes

Yep, won’t touch it until exclusivity deals end. The whole shady business with Snapshot Games recently put to bed any chance I’d even consider ever using it unless they have a major change in policy.

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Robert Mann

Epic is largely Tencent. Where Mr. Sweeney does technically have the majority, Tencent has a huge share. They favor shady tactics for business advantages, so expect shady tactics.

The return on that is that customers need to actually use and keep using their own right to say ‘no’. The lack of customers doing so (and in some cases even workers who have savings and market-worthy skills) continues to confound me. We don’t get a better industry, or world, or anything, by simply rolling over when people act with evil intent (unmitigated greed is, by any means, part of that)… that’s how we get more evil intent.

Cheers to you on this, I’m with ya. I’ve got a list, I’m watching it, and developers that choose exclusivity on PC are out with me. I don’t mind them wanting a better cut, but for all that is decent just give us some choices. In turn… I’ll visit your website and download direct if you give me that option. 0% games platform cut, can’t beat that, can ya?

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Armsbend

When has Tencent favored shady tactics for business advantages?

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Jeremy Barnes

Off the top of my head…they paid to have a competitors game removed from an esports competition a few years back