Perv Simulator VR is the latest game that highlights the lack of quality control on Steam and why the Epic Games Store is a better option.
Note: I will not use any screen shots of Perv Simulator VR, just enjoy the clips form other games.
Back in 2019, the gaming community was divided between Epic Games tactics of toppling Valves almost monopoly of the PC games digital distribution market. Supporters for the Epic Games Store welcomed the competition along with its generous support for indie developers. Supporters for Steam highlighted its robust community and its history of pivoting indie studios to success.
Then came Rape Day, a fine example of the lack of quality control on Steam. It reminded indie developers of who they will be competing against in this digital market, total and utter garbage. Indie studios want to believe that they are competing against each other on Steam. In truth, most of the competition is shovelware and troll titles.
It’s 2020 and now we have Perv Simulator VR on the Steam Store. This new title has emerged as the poster child for everything wrong with this hands-off policy (or as Jim Sterling has called it, “Doing f*** all regarding quality control“).
Another Troll Game
Perv Simulator VR puts players in the role of a pervert who peeps at unsuspected victims. Its Steam page describes it as “Always wanted to spy on the girl you admire? Here is your chance! Time to get your inner creep on!“. Players will overcome a series of obstacles to enter the targets home to fulfill their desire. This is a VR only game and it requires either a HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Valve Index.
This is not about if Perv Simulator VR should be allowed on Steam. If this is the kind of game that Teluma Games wants to make then they are free to do so. However they are not free from the consequence to their professional reputation when they make such a title.
Instead, this is a look at the problem with a hands-off policy to content curation. Specifically, how it could deter indie studios from wanting to sell their game on Steam (especially when they have to compete with troll titles).
The Cost of Business
Setting up a business is an uphill battle and starting a new indie studio is no exception. Money is tight and resource are very limited (hence every expense must matter). It will cost an indie studio $100 to put a game on Steam and it will most likely generate between $15,000 to $30,000 in the first year (with Valve taking 30%). In theory, that 30% cut would be acceptable because Steam is using it to maintain a quality digital market. In practice, indie titles are getting buried under the piles of shovelware and asset flips.
Epic Games on the other hand is offering a more generous offer. They only take 12% of earnings while also offering a bonus to make the game an exclusive. A studio will have to undergo a rigorous process before their game is added to the store. It may seem discouraging at first glance but it has its benefits. Most notable are a partnership with Epic Games and access to a quality digital store.
It should be noted that there are some drawbacks to being an Epic Store exclusive. Some studios might feel that being available on multiple digital stores is better for them. Despite the shortcomings, many indie studios will be more persuaded to be an exclusive on a quality marketplace.
Quality Over Quantity
As of July 2020; ManEater, The Outer Worlds and Samurai Shodown are Epic Store exclusives while Ooblets is on the horizon. Meanwhile, Epic Games has been offering titles like Grand Theft Auto V and Borderlands 2 for free. Steam currently is the only digital market selling Perv Simulator VR.
Indie developers want their game to sell, they don’t want is to be buried under a pile of junk titles. The lack of any quality control is going to push more indie studios away from Steam. Given how much it costs to develop and sell a game, real studios want to compete with the likes of Toby Fox or Glumberland rather than the creators of Perv Simulator VR. The lack of quality control will not kill Steam but it will undermine its selection of indie titles.
The lack of quality control has always been a problem for Steam but Valve will need to get its act together. Epic Store is growing to become a major player in the PC digital distribution market. If Steam wants to remain the best option, it needs to actually invest in content curators or at least raise its standards.
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