Following years of developers exploiting the Steam client to constantly change the release date for their games, Valve has moved to restrict such behavior, and now requires developers to ask for permission to make any such change. Previously, a developer could change the release date whenever and as often as they liked, leading to some less-reputable organizations tricking consumers by making them think that a game was near its release date, when it fact it was no where near that time.
Now, developers will need to contact Valve directly before any manner of release date change can be made. Developers will still have the ability to release at any moment once their game has been approved by Valve, and the change only relates to the posted date for release. Developers will now also be sent a reminder two weeks prior to the release date to ensure that they are on track.
This is a welcome change after years of seeing the system exploited. Previously, a developer could constantly show a game as releasing in the near future, which would then make it appear on Steam’s Popular Upcoming Releases list. However, rather than release the game soon, a developer could simply push back the release date by a few days or weeks at a time, allowing them to receive constant exposure alongside games that were actually nearing their release dates.
Now, when any developer looks to change the date of release for their game, they are presented with a message from Valve:
One wonders if such changes have been on the docket for some time, or if improvements are being made as a direct result to the increased presence of the Epic Games Store, that has worked fiercely in the past year to lure consumers away from Steam and onto their platform.
Many have seen how Epic looks to support smaller developers, provide more revenue sharing, and acquire titles for exclusive release. Steam meanwhile needs to do something in response, and these long-existing exploits by developers are a great place to start.
Perhaps these changes were planned long ago, but they may also be the direct result of competition from Epic Games. Either way, consumers receive a better platform to access their games, and there is nothing wrong with that.