Valve won't let devs frontload Steam screenshot galleries with a dozen trailers anymore, says many don't know 'how best to manage' the space

Steam games mosaic image
(Image credit: Valve Software)

Valve loves tweaking and futzing with Steam to ensure that everything is running just so. Some of it is front-facing, like the recent beta client update that added "game notes" and a slew of other new features, and some happens more in the background—for instance, the discount policy changes for developers it rolled out in early 2022. But even by those measures, the changes that went live today are really granular.

Steam store pages are now limited to just two videos on the left-hand side of the thumbnail row. Developers can add as many as they like, but any excess videos will be display on the right-hand of the thumbnail row, after the screenshots. Page owners can set which two videos they want before the screenshots, and which will come after, through the "Edit Store Page" section in Steamworks.

"Ideally you'll want to give players a good look at the gameplay of your game in as short a time as possible," Valve said. "We recommend that your first trailer be one that features primarily gameplay, clearly demonstrating what the player will be doing in the game and how they will be interacting with the world you've built. Save your company logos or narrative storylines for further into your trailer once you've gotten the interest of a player."

So, for instance, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt, which used to have a ton of videos at the front of its thumbnail row (and, for the record, is also an excellent battle royale), now looks like this:

(Image credit: Steam)

All the rest of the videos are now at the very end of the thumbnail row:

(Image credit: Steam)

Developers can also now tag each video with a category, which will be displayed on the store page "to help players identify the videos they are most interested in watching."

  • General / Cinematic  - Most trailers fall into this category; these typically show a mix of pre-rendered video, logos, title screens, accolades, and maybe some limited amount of gameplay.
  • Teaser  - A short video, often posted when a game is first announced, often doesn't show much of the game but instead teases the title, IP, or franchise.
  • Gameplay  - When a trailer is mostly comprised of gameplay, showing the user what it's like to play the game and from the perspective that the player will be playing.
  • Interview / Dev Diary  - Non-fiction interview or documentary video.

(Image credit: Valve (Steam))

The addition of visible trailer categories isn't a bad idea, but why limit the number of videos that can be displayed before screenshots? As far as I can tell, it seems to come down to Valve believing that it knows what's best.

"We have found that it wasn't clear to developers how best to manage trailers in order to provide the best experience for players," Valve explained. "Many games have collected a great number of trailers over their lifetime of development and have made it harder for prospective customers to find the screenshots. At the same time, we know that players are interested in understanding a little more about the trailers they are watching. This update is intended to address both of these issues and help players more quickly learn about games they are interested in."

I don't doubt that Valve knows what it's talking about—if there's one thing it knows, it's analytics. But that still doesn't really answer the question of why? If I've got a game on Steam and I want to front-load my thumbnails with videos, shouldn't that be my call? I can see making a recommendation, sure, but enforcing a hard limit just seems weird to me. 

To be fair, I've never been bothered by frontloaded videos, but others have: Executive editor Tyler Wilde, for instance, said it's an "annoyance" having to deal with all those up-front trailers before getting to screenshots (which we use quite a lot for work purposes), and he welcomes the change. So maybe Valve is onto something here, and this is a bigger and more useful change than I realize. (Although I still think it's weird that Valve won't at least let developers opt out if they want to.)

Valve said developers aren't required to do anything to accommodate the new rules, as any videos beyond the first two will be automatically shunted to the end of the line, but warned that "you may wish to take a look now to see if the first two trailers provide players with the best look at your game, and make adjustments in Steamworks if appropriate."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.