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LONG BLOG

Steam's "Ignore This Publisher" Function Is A Joke At This Stage

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Did you know that I've got every AAA publisher I can ignored on Steam? It's simple enough; Steam has a function entitled "Ignore this publisher/developer" that shows up on the new Developer Homepage feature, which is currently in Beta. You'd really think that this is simple. You don't like a publisher, you won't see their content. It's a Godsend!

Well, it would be if it worked. Admittedly, the system is still in Beta, so Valve may still improve it, but allow me to break down a few issues with it, starting with:

It requires cooperation from publishers.

The main issue with Steam's "ignore this publisher" feature is that it requires the publisher to start up a homepage. Multiple publishers simply... didn't, meaning there's no way to ignore them. Hence, unless you intend to seek out every single game from a certain publisher and individually ignore them, you're not really going to get much mileage out of trying it with a publisher who didn't make a page. In the case of Activision, they deliberately subverted the system. I wanted to block Activision, so I clicked on the publisher of Sekiro, which was listed as "Activision (Except for Japan)." I had already blocked the Japanese publisher, before I realized that was who it linked to; said Japanese publisher (Cube Game, for what it matters) mostly appears to publish Visual Novels, and certainly isn't the sort of thing I want to keep out of my feed.

Ten minutes of searching later, I discovered that Activision didn't set up a page. Thus, there is no way to mass-block Activision's content. To say I wasn't overjoyed by this turn of events would be an understatement of the highest order.

So, we're already starting with the opener that the publishers need to completely agree to work within the system, and as has been repeatedly proven since forever, they're not gonna be inclined to work within any system which may even mildly inconvenience them unless absolutely forced to. Since they're not forced to, publishers just... won't do it. That's not to mention deliberately misleading "publishers" such as... ah, yes, Fallout, my favorite publisher.

Some major companies are completely unable to be blocked with this system. This, though? This is just the start of things. There's a spiraling, insane rabbit hole to leap down here.

It does nothing.

So, I know what nobody's wondering! What exactly does ignoring a publisher do? Well, as is poorly explained by some people on the internet because Valve can't be bothered to explain it themselves, ignoring a publisher should mean you will no longer get an eyeful of their products, thus not having any temptation to buy them or fly into a frothing rage upon being reminded Bethesda exists. This is of great help to compulsive buyers like myself, who struggle not to purchase items when it is possible, which game publishers take advantage of using FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to convince people, many of whom have issues much worse than mine, to purchase games they don't really want just because, you know, they might want them someday and it'll be a lost opportunity not to get them! (Let's not forget how DuckTales Remastered went off Steam, driving a massive spike in sales during its final week, only to come back a few months after no worse for wear. Remember, kids, games being delisted is a scam designed to craft artificial scarcity, those big companies could always renew the licenses if they really wanted!)

Now, this is a Godsend, right? I can finally just tell a publisher to screw off. They'll no longer appear on my front page, I'll be all good, no more compulsive buying. I've just... well, ignored them!

Except it doesn't work like that at all.

You see this image, which I have shoddily edited in MS Paint to illuminate the reality of this situation? This is DOOM Eternal, published by Bethesda, right smack dab all big on my storefront page. Not even a banner over it marking that I have ignored it. I wouldn't know if not for the fact I remembered it.

But, of course, except the massive sale which is causing me this headache, it surely works just fine and doesn't have games from ignored publishers show up for customers using the storefront at alllllll...

...Well, fuck. They just slap a banner on which does nothing to prevent compulsive spending. Well, at least it keeps the companies outside of your Discovery Queue!

...Huh. I could've sworn that...

Yeeeeep. It doesn't even remove ignored publishers from your Discovery Queue. It's very appropriate that they call it "ignore" publishers, because it achieves the same result ignoring someone in real life does: You're really trying to hope they get the message, but they won't stop talking!

So, in summary: It does nothing to actually block publishers from your store page, actively "forgets" to place any marker on big, up-front purchases (BTW, there's another section of "Featured" games below which is a massive section of unbannered games. Pretty sure I had blocked most of them, but I had at least blocked Bethesda and SEGA.) Even the banners on games are unlikely to stop compulsive spenders, many of whom struggle to control themselves (I have someone else handle my money and Steam purchases, which helps) and will end up buying the games due to FOMO. It means nothing to block a publisher.

It's just lip service.

The only thing that ignoring a publisher actually does beyond cosmetically modifying some banners is remove the publisher's games from your search results. So, good news! If you deliberately searched for a game from a publisher you hate, you won't find it, because clearly that's of significant use to the people this was a problem for!

It's lip service. Valve pays homage to the idea of being friendly to the customer with this feature, but they don't force publishers to make pages, let them make multiple "publisher" pages, let them game the system, don't actually block the games in any meaningful way meaning compulsive spenders will still compulsively spend and Valve will still get their chunk of change when they do, and nothing actually changes about their corrupt, vile storefront.

Thankfully, it's still in Beta.

There is a caveat to all this. The system is still in Open Beta. It's entirely possible that Valve intends to implement these features, and while I'll happily take on the system for being bare-bones even by Beta standards, I'll just as happily eat my words with a glass of nice chianti if they fix all these problems.

Let's be real though. This is Valve. They are a corporation that makes money from this corrupt, greedy garbage, and they designed the system to be gamed by their corporate chums. While they could fix it all, hell, they probably could fix it by the end of the week, they don't want to. They get their share when compulsive spenders buy their games, they're fine with a faulty system. They have been for, oh, I dunno, their entire existence. By some miracle, they might fix it all, but I'm willing to bet the system is working exactly as intended. That goes double because I have Valve blocked too, and if they left themselves blockable and blocking actually did something, then... *gasp* people might not buy their games!

If Valve wants to be customer friendly, it has to put its big boy pants on and tell its publisher buddies a good, firm "No." If it wants to help compulsive spenders or even people who just want to ignore publishers, it needs to say "You sign this agreement to make a publisher page so people can block it. No tricks, no ploys, no money-grubbing schemes, you Skeksis-esque hatchetjobs of human beings." It has to say "Blocking actually removes products from view." But it won't, because this is Valve. Hell, it takes effort to even find out how to block a publisher, and while it's fairly easy, I have little doubt its complete meaninglessness is deliberate, and I hope, although I will likely find my hopes dashed, that they will alter it to be more meaningful when it finally leaves Beta. Until then?

Thanks for the lip service, Valve. Next time, grow a fucking pair.

Have shibas.

- Congratulations on getting down here.


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About Riley1sSpookone of us since 6:57 PM on 02.03.2019