Steam’s first “Holiday Auction” halted after dupe bug ruins market [Updated]

Update: Valve has updated its auction site to note that the Gem auctions will return “shortly” and that “an issue with Gems… means we need to reset and start again.” Specifically:

  • All gems created by you will be returned to your Inventory.
  • All Gem purchases from the Community Market will be reimbursed.
  • All Auction bids have been canceled and the Auction will be reset.
  • Trades involving Gems are being investigated on a case-by-case basis.

Original Story

The virtual “Holiday Auction” Steam first announced yesterday evening seemed like a cute idea at the time. For a limited time, users would be able to trade in unused or unwanted Steam Inventory items for “gems,” which could in turn, starting Monday, be used to bid against others on codes for 2,000 Steam games, 200,000 copies in all.

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Valve Takes On Twitch With Steam Broadcasting

Valve Steam Broadcasting There’s a new entrant in the already-competitive online game streaming space: game developer, publisher, and retailer Valve just announced the beta version of Steam Broadcasting, a tool for watching your friends play from within the company’s popular game store and community hub. Read More

Steam streams: Valve introduces gameplay-sharing broadcast feature

PC gamers who use Steam now have a more integrated option for sharing live video of their gameplay with the world, as Valve today introduced Steam Broadcasting as a feature in its beta client. Every Steam user that has made a purchase can now stream audio and video from any game on the service over the Internet, and that content can be viewed either by the world at large or only by people on their friends list. The functionality comes with “no game ownership [on the viewer side], special fees, or additional apps required.”

What’s more, beta client users don’t even need to make an explicit decision to start broadcasting before taking advantage of the feature. As Valve explains in its FAQ, “if your settings allow your game to be watched, then you start broadcasting when someone starts watching” by selecting the “Watch Game” option from their friends list menu. Don’t worry about friends sneaking a peek without you knowing, though. Users will be prompted to set privacy settings the first time a watch request comes in, and they can require friends to receive invites or make explicit requests before watching a gaming session.

Players can view the streams either through the Steam client itself or through a Web browser, with Chrome and Safari receiving official support from Valve. Streams that are set to public will be listed on a new community broadcast hub, which already shows dozens of participating gamers mere minutes after the feature was announced. Broadcasters can choose to share their desktop and microphone commentary in addition to the game video, and these plays can choose bitrates and resolution up to 3.5 Mb/s and 1080p from the settings (though Valve warns that “bandwidth may be limited during the beta”). Viewers can interact with the broadcaster through a chat window on the side of the stream.

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PSA: Steam joins the Black/Cyber discount blitz with “Exploration” sale

On Wednesday, online computer gaming store Steam unveiled an expected holiday-themed sale, complete with deep discounts on recent hits and indie standouts alike. In typical Steam fashion, this year’s “Exploration” sale ties into a recent change on the storefront, but instead of highlighting collectible badges or community features, the sale focuses on customized sale offers based on September’s “discovery” update.

As of press time, the exact link to a user’s customized sale page is hotlinked incorrectly if loaded within the Steam app, so fans will want to click here to see what games Steam thinks you want the most. That link includes some very random guesses in the top roll of links, along with a convenient gathering of unpurchased games from your wishlist, discounted DLC for games you own, and “tag” links for sales in your favorite genres.

More harrowing for your wallet is the store’s new endless scroll feature, which continues to generate sale after sale after sale if you move downward on its main page. As Steam store veterans will tell you, you may want to tag a beloved game on your wishlist if its sale price on an early day is kind of low. Chances are, it will receive an even bigger discount before the sale officially ends on December 2. The sale’s most interesting launch specials include massive cuts on 2014 games like The Evil Within, Watch Dogs, Civilization: Beyond Earth, and Goat Simulator, but Steam claims to have cut prices on 1,860 games already. Get to scrolling.

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Valve lays out new rules and guidelines for Early Access developers

Twenty months after it started, Valve’s experiment in letting developers sell unfinished games through its Steam Early Access program continues to evolve. Giant Bomb reports that the distribution service has sent a new set of rules and guidelines to Early Access developers about how they should market and position their games.

The most important new rule might be the requirement that developers clearly communicate a game’s unfinished status wherever Steam keys are sold outside of Valve’s storefront. As Valve notes, “We’ve seen that many of these titles are sold as keys on other websites where there is no explanation of what Early Access is or what the current state of your product is now versus what you hope to achieve.” This extends to setting proper expectations for the project “everywhere you talk about your game,” Valve says.

Early Access developers must also avoid “specific promises about future events,” such as when a game will be finished or what features are planned for future updates. “Customers should be buying your game based on its current state, not on promises of a future that may or may not be realized,” Valve writes.

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GOG rolls out Linux support with over 50 games, many on sale

While Valve and its Steam distribution platform have been pushing Linux as the future of PC gaming for a long while now, the folks at online store GOG have contented themselves with PC and Mac software. That situation changed today, as GOG (formerly Good Old Games) announced support for Linux, offering over 50 titles for DRM-free download.

GOG’s list of available Linux titles is unsurprisingly dominated by indie titles and overlaps somewhat with the more robust list of nearly 600 Linux titles on Steam. But GOG is promoting nearly two dozen titles that are being offered on Linux for the first time through GOG, after the site says it “personally ushered [them] one by one into the welcoming embrace of Linux gamers” with “special builds prepared by our team.” That list of new-to-Linux titles on GOG includes some well-remembered, big-name classics like FlatOut (and FlatOut 2), Rise of the Triad, Sid Meier’s Pirates, and Sid Meier’s Colonization (not to mention Duke Nukem 3D, which was previously available on Linux).

Users who buy a Linux-compatible game from GOG will be able to download their games as distro-independent tar.gz archives and/or as DEB installers that will work on Ubuntu or Mint. For games compatible with multiple operating systems, one purchase gives access to all versions.

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Client files mysteriously show an analog stick on mock-up Steam controller

When Valve first unveiled its prototype for a handheld video game controller last September, the most striking thing about it, from a modern design perspective, was the complete lack of analog joysticks. It’s an omission that remained even after Valve updated the controller prototype to include more traditional digital button placement.

So it’s quite interesting that the latest version of the official Steam beta client includes the above image, showing a version of the Steam controller with an analog stick where the directional buttons used to be.

The file seems to have been first spotted by an enterprising member of the forums, but we’ve confirmed that anyone with access to the PC version of Steam’s latest beta client update should have this file on their hard drive (if you’ve updated the beta, it should be in [Steam directory]\tenfoot\resource\images\library\alpha_conroller_lines_d0g.png in case you want to confirm for yourself; we haven’t checked the Mac and Linux clients yet). The file on our system, which appears to be an overlay for some sort of controller configuration or help menu, was created on May 19 and modified to the current analog-stick-sporting version on July 16.

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Sony, Microsoft mulling “Early Access” game sales on consoles

While Steam’s year-long experiment with selling unfinished games through its “Early Access” program has had its share of issues, it’s hard to understate the impact it has had on the way PC games are developed, marketed, and sold, with games like Day Z and Rust becoming best sellers before they’re even finished. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by console developers or by Sony and Microsoft, both of which have been hinting they might introduce their own “Early Access” style programs for their consoles soon.

In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Sony Publisher and Developer Relations VP Adam Boyes said finding a smart way to give players access to games that aren’t finished yet is “one of the massive conversations we have internally.” One of the major barriers, he said, is making the development state of the game clear to potential purchasers. “We don’t want somebody to stumble across that title and expect a full product, and have a negative experience.”

Boyes went on to say that Sony is working out guidelines for just how early a game can be before being offered to PlayStation customers. “We obviously have our tech requirement checklist that people have to adhere to,” Boyes said. “So we’re internally discussing, what does that list look like? What are the caveats? Stuff like this. So it’s still a project that a lot of minds are considering. No details yet, but it’s something on the top of my mind every day.”

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