Steam’s New Review Policy Causes More Problems Than It Solves

Today, Steam did something. That alone is a monumental occasion. But unfortunately, as is too often, Steam either didn’t think very hard about what it did or didn’t care very much about the developers on its platform when it did it.

You see, Steam decided to unilaterally demote all reviews posted by anyone who activated a product on Steam via a Steam Key. Some people think this is good. Since I wrote an article and I’m already sounding snippy, you can probably tell I do not think it was good.

There’s cries that people who paid money have “less biased” opinions, cries that Kickstarter backers are like “investors” and shouldn’t have a say, that review copies are “free keys” and shouldn’t be eligible for, erm, review. All of these are incorrect or downright stupid and I’ll cover them one by one. But first, let’s account for who can actually get a Steam Key and why.

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How To Make Sure Your Indie Game Is Safe From Content ID

Why Check For Content ID?

Content ID is a headache for every YouTuber. If you want your game to go down smoothly on YouTube, you probably want to make sure you’re not accidentally setting up YouTubers to find out all their videos will get claimed.

Content ID can do the following:

  • Block a video in some countries
  • Block a video in all countries, effectively censoring it completely
  • Display ads on a video intended to be ad free
  • Block videos from being displayed on platforms that don’t/can’t show ads
  • Take some or all of the ad revenue a non-ad-free video would get
  • Mute some or all of the video

Content ID can also harmlessly track video views and stuff, and I believe uploaders aren’t even notified of this sort of matching. It’s not what I’ll be discussing today as it’s benign best I can tell.

Also note there’s no “only match people who upload the whole, naked soundtrack” option. If a song in the game is included and matched, Let’s Plays, streams etc. will be matched all the same as a pure rip of the full OST, Content ID is not a gentle beast.

If you want to ensure your game is safe from the Content ID monster, there’s a quick test you can do to save YouTubers some headaches (and yourself some headaches if they come asking what the deal is). Also, if you didn’t upload content to Content ID but someone else did, that means every video for your game could get Content ID’d, ticking off the YouTuber and sending money to someone who isn’t you, while the YouTuber will probably blame you assuming you did it. So yeah, you don’t want that. Some game devs have even had their own trailers Content ID’d by outside parties. Fun stuff.

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