The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Steam Logo

THE LOWS

Chris Livingston: Leaking Steam
Well, what a nice tense Christmas morning we all had, huh? Idly checking Twitter, we saw reports of people logging into Steam and seeing the account information of other users, including their email address, partial credit card and phone numbers, purchase history, and other info. Over the hour that followed, as I logged in to see if I could remove my credit card info, I saw the account details of at least three other users. A pretty terrible feeling, because if I could see someone else's account, there was a chance someone else could be looking at mine. Steam eventually went offline for repairs, and a few gaming sites got a brief email from Valve that it was a caching issue, not a hack, and that they hadn't detected any unauthorized actions as a result of the issue.

Well, yeah, but you can't detect action that hasn't taken place yet. I saw three different accounts, someone else may have seen ten or twenty. That information may have been recorded or shared with others. We don't know how many users had their info viewed—it's the type of data that can be used in future phishing schemes—and apart from that short missive, Steam's social media accounts have been completely silent on the matter. Even their news page didn't mention it. Plenty of users who don't read gaming sites may have no idea anything even happened. If your customers' private data has been compromised, you need to let them know, immediately and directly. That does not seem to have happened.

This wasn't just a problem with their website, but with their attitude toward the millions of people that use it. Valve promised to do better with their lousy customer service. Then, they promised it again. We're still waiting.

James Davenport: Twenty Miff-teen
The other day, I put together a list of the highest reviewed games on PC Gamer for 2015. To qualify, they just needed to have a final score of 80% or above. I figured it’d be a simple morning task, that it wouldn’t take but a few hours. Hoo boy. Nah. There were a lot of good games in 2015, folks. The gallery topped out at 60, and those are just the games we reviewed. Think about what we may have missed! It’s amazing. It’s horrifying!

And then we have this Games of 2016 list we’re putting together. It’s all hands on deck. The variety and quantity of games due next year is giving me nightmares already. But, I really can’t complain. Having too many games is one of the better lows I could ask for.

Aviary Attorney Slide

Wes Fenlon: No time for birds!?
There’s a game called Aviary Attorney on PC right now, in the spirit of Phoenix Wright, and I’m not playing it. Why am I not playing it? Because I’m writing this thing, right now. But after that, I will be playing Aviary Attorney, and life will be better.

Samuel Roberts: Open or shut
I love the look of the Final Fantasy VII Remake—I’ll make this very clear, I will buy the crap out of this game. But I do wonder if Square Enix is talking about too much of it too early. This week, I saw reports on whether the game will be set in an open world or not (hasn’t been decided yet, seemingly) and we covered the casting behind the voice-acting. But jeez, they’ve just shown off the first hour of the game. Maybe it’s worth talking about this a little further down the line when these things have actually been figured out?

Snakebird Slide

Tom Marks: No room for Snakebird
2015 was a great year for PC games. That’s easy to see from the Game of the Year awards we’ve announced so far, but it goes beyond the games we’ve listed here. A perfect example of that is Snakebird. I fucking love Snakebird, and I just didn’t have a moment to talk about it in our GOTY awards. My personal pick went to another—rightfully so, mind you—and not many other people on the PCG team have had a chance to play it, but I think Snakebird might genuinely be one of the best pure puzzle games ever made.

Unfortunately, its cutesy exterior masks how challenging Snakebird actually is. The art and design is well done, but my first impression on seeing it was that it was a kids game. Snakebird is not a kids game. I am a grown man and Snakebird might not even be for me, it can be that difficult at points. But in an age where dozens of games are being added to Steam every day, a striking art style and a first impression can be the only shot a game gets. It’s incredibly easy to overlook a game like Snakebird, just as I’m sure I’ve overlooked some other diamonds in the pile of rough that Steam has become.

If you are a fan of puzzle games, I highly recommend you pick up Snakebird. It’s currently 50% off on Steam as part of the Winter Sale (not that it was expensive to begin with) and will definitely challenge even the most experienced puzzle player. Simply put, it’s just brilliant—and it makes me question how many other great games I’ve missed this year.

Angus Morrison: Christmas event
I am a dutiful son, and I like free food and booze; therefore I am at my parents’ for Christmas deep in rural Scotland. I have abandoned my 780Ti for an 860M and traded a 40Mbps fibre connection for smoke signals and shouting. My laptop wasn’t cheap by any means, but the experience of trying to play Rocket League these past few evenings has brought home how wide the gulf between desktop and portable gaming really is—honestly, the ball is so jaggy it’s practically square. My smug superiority as a PC gamer is draining faster than the pints I’m imbibing to get through the ordeal, and I’ll drink to the health of the full tower case.