Steam Spanish Translators On Strike: Their Side Of The Story

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steam on strike

A Steam translator and ex-moderator from the Spanish Steam Translation Server team (STS), Victor, took to Reddit to air some grievances he and his team have against the digital distribution platform. According to Victor, or \Victor as he states, a specific Valve employee has caused much of the problem that has led to the Spanish STS team to go on strike. This strike eventually led to the removal of the entire Spanish team from the STS project by Valve HR.

Valve employee Torsten Zabka, also known for being the Head Admin and creator of STS, has been harassing, lying, discrediting, creating an oppressive, intimidating environment, and overall doing questionable things that have finished with several mods being kicked, a strike of the whole Spanish team that’s still going, and another Valve employee being illegally fired for complaining about these unlawful activities.

Valve’s STS relies on the Steam community for volunteers to translate its games and it currently supports 26 different languages (including pirate!). Anyone with a non-limited account who maintains a good VAC status and has a Steam Community account can apply to become an approved translator. Translations are mostly utilized for localization files of Steam, Valve games, certain third party games, and mods. You can see the translation status on the STS FAQ page.


Victor’s cause lies within a recent opportunity for these people on the STS team to acquire a paid position in Steam, doing something they have already been doing for free, some for several years. While the opportunity seemed great, it was apparently a basic level system that awarded tokens based on how many words and text pieces were translated successfully for each individual but it was only for new translations. According to Victor, the Spanish STS team had 100% completion in translations and the individual component was useless as the translations were a team effort, meaning his team had little opportunity to become paid contractors for Valve.

steam spanish translators strike

One expelled moderator, Clint, found out about the new token system and decided to take advantage of the situation. As Valve posted new tokens at 5pm it was actually 3am in Spain and Clint took it upon himself to take as many tokens as he could and rush them out, regardless of the quality of the translations and even put his name on long translations to get the first dibs and ultimately the credit, even if someone else fixed or finished the translations. The Spanish moderator team took to their Valve employee admin, Ambra, and tried to remedy the situation and ultimately get Clint banned from translating, however Zabka got wind of the situation and publicly overruled Ambra’s decision to remove Clint and kept him under observation.

In addition to the normal translating of an STS team, Victor’s Spanish STS team had begun voluntarily working on an improved version of the translator platform. According to him, the current translating software was poorly designed and not intuitive, citing the Main Page as an example. Apparently another team was also working on improving the translation platform but that team had approval from Zabka. When Zabka found out about the Spanish teams’ endeavors he halted their efforts immediately.

Torsten Zabka found out, and contacted our colleague Caja, also a Spanish moderator and translator who was acting as frontman for the other languages, and accused him and our whole team of doing shady things behind him and asked us to stop immediately, even after Caja tried to explain to him that our new version of STS was a voluntary thing we were working on for fun and to improve the translation experience and the quality of our work. As you can understand, it seemed to us that Torsten thought that we were showing a better proof of professionalism and capabilities than him towards his co-workers, since he was the one who created STS in the first place. The reality is that we wanted him in the project but he was always saying that he was unavailable to work on this at that moment, so we considered that our best chance was to proceed without him while showing him the progress and let him join the ship as soon as possible.

After sending the cease and desist, Zabka went on to expel the  acting coordinator for the STS Spanish team, MaTa, who had been with Vavle’s translating team for over 10 years. According to Victor, no explanation was given, MaTa found out when he tried to log into the translating page and got the error message below. Seemingly another casualty was Ambra, the administrator of both the Spanish and Italian STS teams, reportedly was fired from Valve after whistleblowing the Clint situation.

steam spanish translation team account removed

At that point, the entire Spanish STS went on strike and sent a letter to Valve’s Human Resources asking for answers as to why MaTa was expelled, why Ambra was fired, and took issue with Zabka’s hand in these matters. The response from HR was not informative and Victor paraphrases it as: “Valve is grateful for your work; however we’ve decided to release all Spanish translation duties from STS.

So not only did they ignore our petitions, ignore our suggestions, kick our coordinator, kick and fire our administrator, but they also neglected us for complaining about it and asking for an explanation. A whole language of STS, one of the languages that reaches more users and has one of the biggest potential for users in the future, moved away from their tasks, for no reasons. This action has been quickly reflected in the community, with translations not made by us – or simply no translations – that don’t meet the previous standards which we worked very hard to maintain for so many years.

Despite all of the issues, Victor stressed at the end of his rather long reddit post that they had no intent to harm Valve, the Spanish STS team want to come to some kind of amicable resolution.

We only want two things:

1) We want Valve to notice this, so there can be a fair and understandable solution to this.

2) We want the community to know about this, to show them that not everything is great in paradise.

We’d be very grateful if things could come to an end that would be fair to everyone here, as right now the ones who are losing the most are the players with poor command of english, who will be forced to face terrible/no translations in the future if everything keeps going this way. Two colleagues have already been expelled, one of them being a Valve employee that also got fired afterwards for no reason given.

We have reached out to Steam for comment, and will provide updates with any response that we receive.

  Source: Reddit
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