Steam and YouTube Have a Lot in Common

The internet is a wonderful thing.  It has provided numerous new methods of delivering entertainment.  With these new forms of media comes corporations that wish to benefit from it.  PC gaming and video streaming has seen a significant rise in the internet age.  Two leaders in these forms of media have emerged, YouTube and Steam.  On the surface, you wouldn’t think they have all that much in common, with one focused on video sharing and the other a digital storefront.  YouTube and Steam are both platform leaders in their respective fields.  YouTube is by far the biggest video sharing platform on the internet.  Steam is the leader in PC digital game distribution.  While both find themselves at the top, chinks in the armor is obvious to the naked eye.   YouTube was transformed into a mega-corporation when it was purchased by Google.  YouTubers were able to monetize videos, which occupied a gray area in terms of copyright law.  Other corporations want a bigger piece of the pie.  Google has caved to the pressure time and time again.  Steam was once a prestigious storefront where getting a game published on it was an honor.  Valve opened the floodgates to many shitty games with Greenlight and later Direct.  Now any dumbass with access to the internet can upload games, with zero quality assurance required.   Valve washed its hands of any responsibility, making Steam a free-for-all.

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YouTube is by far is the largest video sharing platform on the internet.  There was once a time when YouTube’s dominance was not absolute.  Blip was once a viable alternative but has since folded.  Monopiles are never good for the consumer.  Competition breeds innovation.  Since YouTube has little in the way of competition, there’s nothing to stop them from fucking over content creators.  YouTube has been inventing new ways to do said fucking over.  Changes to the algorithms have been burying mildly successful channels and continuing to push hugely successful ones.  The copyright system is open for abuse.  Anyone can make a copyright claim for any reason, no matter if Fair Use was in play.  It’s a guilty until proven innocent system.  Corporations have taken advantage of this system, syphoning ad revenue from other people’s hard work.  Youtubers are constantly seeing their livelihood threatened for absolutely no reason.  YouTube itself never gives any warning or explanation for any changes made.  They clearly don’t give a shit about content creators. All they do is act as a lap dog to corporations demanding a bigger piece of the pie.

Steam is the clear leader in PC game distribution.  Unlike YouTube though, Valve actually has competition, such as GOG.  There are other options available.  It may not be a monopoly but still a significant hold on the PC game market.  Everything was going along swimmingly until the introduction of Steam Greenlight.  Greenlight allowed the Steam community to vote on games they wanted on the storefront.  Sounds good, right?  WRONG.  Many shady things were done to get votes, like giving away free game codes and exchanging trading cards.  It attracted many unsavory, unhinged “developers.”  Not only did these people put out atrocious asset flips as original games, but attacked anyone critical of their game.  They were allowed to oversee comments, even delete negative ones.  Users and critics alike were constantly targeted by these “developers.”  Direct was implemented and the problem of too many shitty games on Steam only worsened, doing away with any barrier to entry outside the $100 entry fee.  Valve no longer wishes to do any quality control themselves, preferring to rely on algorithms to do it for them.  And guess what?  That shit doesn’t work.  Steam has become so oversaturated that it has become difficult to find success on it.  Several excellent indie devs have commented on this problem.  Steam is no longer a platform to find success.  Many are deciding to jump ship for the Switch.  Nothing but radio silence from Valve.  No quality control and little care about indie devs has let to Steam becoming a hostile environment.

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YouTube and Steam have a common thread, reliance on algorithms.  These algorithms are good tools, but that’s just what they are, tools.  Algorithms are not going to solve all the problems.  Human oversight is still necessary. Both of which YouTube and Valve seem so averse to doing.  The algorithms can only be as good as the people who programed it.  Humans are needed to make sure things are running smoothly.  Many horrible games would go unreleased if Valve had someone performing basic quality control.  YouTube needs someone overseeing copyright claims, protecting content creators from potential abuse.  Also, YouTube needs to stop actively trying to destroy smaller channels.  YouTube needs more competition and Steam is headed to a crash.  They can’t get out of their own way.

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