This is an open letter to Valve with regards to their Steam Marketplace service and how it has become another form of economy that is killing the games it services.
I have been an avid fan of your companies work for nearly two decades now and it pains me to see you losing touch with making great things for the sake of the all might dollar. The introduction of Steam service back in the early 2000’s was seen by many as a bad thing for the gaming industry, but I liked to defend it as the feature. It allowed for a centralized location for access games from where ever I might be without the need to lug around several CD cases worth of game discs. It also in recent years, with Greenlight, allowed for smaller companies to produce games and offer it to a large market at a relatively low cost. Overall it’s a great service that works well.
The thing I have a MAJOR issue with is how the Market Place is being abused and creating a whole sub-category of player on your service. Now don’t get me wrong I like the Market Place in concept but in how it is currently managed and works….. Let’s just say I would guess that there are at least several thousand if not hundreds of thousands of accounts on Steam that are nothing but farming accounts. Yes this looks good for your service to have these accounts active and running but its doing more harm than good.
How might this be a bad thing? Well for one it makes selling an item on the Market useless unless you are a trader or a farmer. Say I get a handful of gear from playing DOTA 2 for 60 hours. Now I don’t want the items I got for character ‘X’ so I decide to sell it. So I jump over to the market to price check and find the price that might have been say enough for a Team Fortress 2 key about $2.50, has been pushed down to about 10 cents due to the farmers over saturating the Market. Yes I’m going to sell it for the 10 cents and move on but it’s frustrating as it feels like the Market SHOULD be a place sell in game items to buffer the cost of micro-transactions to make getting gear reasonable and not a venture in spending $300+ on a “free” game. In its current state the Market is a mixture of real people selling things to try and fund there Steam Wallets and people trading to get REAL money.
Now we get to one of the real issues with the Market, the use of items as a form of digital currency that IS being traded for cold hard cash. This might not sound like a bad thing but considering the issues recently with Bitcoins and illegal activities its only time before some scandal pops up with Steam and its Market Place at the center of it. No, I don’t see people at the moment trading Earbuds for say drugs and a hit man but the point is that its a Market, much like Bitcoins, that is not totally traceable and controllable. Hell there’s even sites that track TF2 items much in the same way goods are tracked on a Commodities Exchange. I’m saying if it ever happened it would be a huge blow for Valve, and an even bigger hit to the community as it would surly effect Steam and potentially take it out of play as a service. If Steam did get shutdown as a service I know personally I would be out at least $500 probably more.
Ok, ok enough of the hypothetical drug trade made possible by the Market Place and on to the real reason that got me ranting, the damn farm accounts.
So there I was having fun day playing DOTA 2 off and on while I got things done around the house. It was a mixed day of wins and losses but fun overall. Then it happened, I join a game with a couple of Russians. Don’t get me wrong I no issue with Russians, it just seems that’s where most of the Farmers live, and as it turned out my fears of a bad game where not unfounded. Forty-five minutes of my life late the battle of trying to turn an obvious farming game into a fun game was over and I was pissed to say the least. It seems like the more I play when it’s not a Saturday or Friday night the more I run into farmers.
If you’re not familiar with the term, farming in video games typically refers to the act of repeating an action, mission or function of a game to gain in game items. Many of today’s large games has this happening in one way or another the issue arises when it effect the game play of others. In the case of Dota 2 where it’s a team based battle this results in teammates looking to end the game in the fastest way possible, most of the time by letting the opposing team kill them at a rate in which helps move the game to a faster end. By doing this or other methods it leaves the rest of the team at a huge disadvantage by taking away a possible ally and by aiding the opposing teams experience and gold. Thus killing any chance for a fair or fun game.
Here’s a typical farming account check list of the Steam Profile
Account – 1 Year or less
Games – 2 to 4 Owned (Typically Dota 2 and another FTP like TF2)
Hours played – 1000+
Comments – +Rep, Good Trader, Ect…
Most of the time its accounts from Russia, Ukraine, and South America.
If Valve wishes to allow farming that’s fine but let it be said if the practice becomes worse, as it has been, the legit player base will go away, if it hasn’t already started to.
Oh and Valve please please PLEASE add a Russian server for the real players form Russia so they can play with other Russian speaking people. I have played with some very good players from there but it’s hard since I have no clue what they are saying. It’s kind of sh#t that they have to play EU and US servers since they don’t have their own. The game has to be making enough to though a few servers in a data center somewhere in Russia.
So I guess to sum up this rant I will leave with this.
Valve FIX YO’ SHIT! I’m mad bro.
Sincerely Mad Bro Player,
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