Valve: Ads on Steam "would be a bad business decision"

Erik Johnson says no to Doritos on the PC gaming store

Don't expect to see advertisement for Doritos or Mountain Dew on Valve's Steam platform anytime soon, the company's business authority Erik Johnson has called the idea dumb.

"It would be a bad business decision, let alone just dumb," he told Gamespot in a recent interview, adding that the company liked to focus more on long term relationships.

"We don't see a case for that ever getting user value, so we wouldn't do it. I don't think that those ever work, either. To take it a step further, I don't think anybody buys Doritos as a result of that."

Valve is currently preparing for the official release of its Steam Controllers, Steam Links and Steam Machines, with those lucky enough to pre-order getting their hands on their early bird specials from today.

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Latest comments (8)

Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 5 years ago
It wouldn't be dumb, it'd be an outright slap in the face to everyone who buys games on there - games that Steam already take a 30% cut from. The point that happened I think would be the tipping point where large numbers of people would stop seeing them as the saviours of PC gaming, and start looking elsewhere. I'm already tending to grab any games I can through GOG as a first preference, simply because of the exemplary DRM stance.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend5 years ago
I love Valve, they really understand (mostly) what their customers want. I fear the day when Gabe leaves and it's left to corporate assholes to screw it over like every single thing they touch with their poisonous little mitts.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
I don't think either one of you understand what is actually meant by that statement. It's not a slap in the face or an insult to their customers, it's a realization that they cannot provide the eyeballs that they promise. The people who use steam are the people most likely to use ad blocking software. Unlike a console, you can very much stop them from ever appearing This makes your platform absolutely worthless advertisers, since there is no way of measuring how many people are actually looking at the ads, and extremely likely that those ads will never be seen that they're spending money to place there. That's why steam is a bad platform for ads, not for any noble purpose.
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Show all comments (8)
Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend5 years ago

Valve's motivations for choosing not to serve 3rd party ads is irrelevant to my statement really, the main point is the action they have taken. Do you honestly think we don’t know Valve is a business and choosing not to post ads was a business decision? Give us a bit of credit...

I love Valve because they saw a gap in the market, spent many years honing their platform and now dominate the market because everyone else thought it would not take off. For years they worked on and improved their service, breathing new life to the indie scene where it once was stagnant by giving developers a place to sell games. And usually they make decisions based on “How would our customers react to this new initiative?” and “Will it make us money?”.

Of course I don’t think that Valve is not without its problems, but evidence shows that they do listen to their customers and for the most part Gabe and his team run a great business. I understand your analysis, but you really shouldn’t start your comment with “You people don’t know what this statement means!”. It’s a little arrogant and unnecessary, unless you are just spoiling for a fight of course.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 21st October 2015 12:36pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
Steam is a global brand, Doritos are not. I doubt Valve has the stomach for regional advertisement. Mountain Dew in Germany? Largely unheard of. Club Mate outside of Germany? Same thing. That is the reason you get your Destiny codes off Red Bull, not Almdudler.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany5 years ago
Mountain Dew in Germany? Largely unheard of.
Uh? I find it in pretty much any supermarket...
(although people here is more into energy drinks which is not as healthy, all things said)
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 5 years ago
@Jeff: add blockers do not download the ads and then not display them to users; they avoid downloading the ads in the first place. So they do not interfere with stats at all: advertisers are still getting accurate numbers. (So long as they're taking the number as the number of ad views, rather than the number of views of the page that's supposed to contain the ad.)

@Klaus: I don't know if Valve has the "stomach" for regional advertisements, but they certainly seem to have no problem dealing with other regional issues, such as different availability and different versions of games, regional pricing, and regional support. I see no strong reason to believe that they couldn't handle regional advertising as well.

I think it's overly cynical to attribute this to Gabe putting spin on a decision that would have gone the other way had it looked more profitable. Valve has shown time and time again that they're willing to put the long-term happiness of their users over short-term gain. Half Life 3 (or rather, its absence) is a good example: they could release any old piece of rubbish and make tens of millions on the first day.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Curt Sampson on 22nd October 2015 9:47am

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
To add a couple of things that haven't been mentioned...

1) Steam is... I don't want to say cluttered, but, yeah... it's cluttered. There's literally nowhere to put ads that wouldn't take away space from games. This would not only annoy customers/browsers, but also annoy devs/pubs, since getting seen on Steam is tricky enough already. It's already a smorgasbord of visual delight, and putting ads in there? Just too much.

2) Steam is a store. You don't walk into Game/Waterstones/Barnes and Noble and see adverts for perfumes, deodorant or doritos. You'll see promotional boards/leaflets for other games or books (depending upon if you're in Game or Waterstones), but not for products irrelevant to what the store sells. And Steam already does promotions for relevant items with the tick box of "Notify me about... new releases/upcoming releases".
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