Steam cuts down on cluttered store artwork with new rules for game developers

Steam store game artwork rule changes

Valve wants Steam graphical assets to be more ‘straightforward’ for customers

It’s a constant struggle for game developers to stand out on Steam, and flashy artwork has been a big way to try and draw players in long enough to click through to a game’s store page. I’m sure you’ve noticed the busy banners. Things have escalated to a point that Valve isn’t comfortable with, and the company has solidified its guidelines — and announced new rules that’ll go into effect in September — regarding artwork on Steam.

As explained in a Steamworks Development post, Valve wants to “make it as clear and straightforward as possible for customers to find games to buy and play on Steam.”

“Recently, we’ve noticed more text, award logos, and even review scores being included by game developers in their graphical asset images,” Valve said. “This made us realize our guidelines haven’t been as clear as they should be. As a result of not having clearly-defined rules, we’ve seen additions to graphical assets that are creating a confusing and sometimes even inaccurate experience for customers.”

Guitar Billionaire, Custard Castle Small Claims Court, and the other mock games in the picture up top get to the heart of it. Steam wants developers to move away from including review scores, awards, and discount text in their store graphical assets (“capsules”).

Valve also shared some examples of the issue: “some game logos themselves have become so small that it’s hard for players to tell what the name of the game is. In other cases, graphical asset images are so cluttered with award logos and ratings that it is distracting and hard to read. Some capsules include review scores that are no longer accurate. We also see that in most cases this additional text on assets is presented in English language only, isolating much of the Steam audience that doesn’t speak English.”

No Man's Sky artwork on the Steam store
Major game updates can still be mentioned with “artwork overrides,” but the text needs to be “localized into at least the same set of languages supported by the game,” according to Valve.

This week’s Steamworks Development article has the full breakdown, but at a glance:

New Steam store graphical asset rules

  • Content on base graphical asset capsules on Steam is limited to game artwork, the game name, and any official subtitle. For clarity, this means:
    1. No review scores of any kind, including Steam reviews or external news sources
    2. No award names, symbols, or logos
    3. No discount marketing copy (eg. no “On Sale Now” or “Up to 90% off” text)
    4. No text or imagery promoting a different product. This includes no marketing of sequels or other titles in the same franchise.
    5. No other miscellaneous text.
  • We understand that partners are excited to talk about large updates and seasonal events, and customers are often excited to see these reflected in the game capsules. While this content is not allowed in base capsule assets (see rule #1 above), we do support this use case through Capsule Artwork Overrides with the following constraints:
    1. Must use Artwork Overrides — When including text on a graphical asset, this MUST be uploaded as an Artwork Override with a length limit of one month.
    2. Must localize any text — Any text included on a graphical asset MUST be localized into at least the same set of languages supported by the game.
    3. Only to describe new content — The only acceptable additional text on a game capsule is words describing a major update to the game content, a new seasonal event, battle pass, DLC, or similar new content for the game.

These new Steam store artwork rules will go into effect on September 1, 2022.

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Jordan Devore
Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random.
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