New recommendation system and curator list designed to improve how users find titles

Valve shakes up Steam game discoverability

Valve has made some major changes to the way users discover games on its digital distribution platform Steam.

The new Discovery Update revamps the store’s home page and presents recommendations based on past purchases, recent gameplay and friend recommendations.

Also new is the curators list. Users can create their own list of games, based on a sci-fi theme for example, and recommend games based on their tastes for other players to see and subscribe to.

Steam will still retain some of its more traditional elements however, such as displaying popular new releases, recently updated games and top sellers. Users though will now be able to customise their homepage to display which of these cateogires they want to see.

Game searching has also been updated, and now allows users to discover titles by entering a tag or a basic description of a game they would be interested in playing.

Through a new traffic data analytics system, developers will be able to see where their game is appearing on the store, how many times it has been shown, and if those impressions have resulted in game page views.

The revamp is Valve’s response to the growing number of games being released on Steam. Since January, 1,300 new titles have been added to the marketplace, a significant increase on previous years and more than a third of the store’s total lifetime releases.. In total there are now more than 3,700 games on Steam.

Develop previously discussed the issue of discoverability with indie developers, some of whom at the time suggested user curated lists could be the way forward.

Valve UI designer Alden Kroll told Develop that the new changes in the Steam Discovery Update came about as a result of its conversations with developers and customers, and hopes the new features will help developers sell their games.

“In terms of how these changes will help smaller studios and indies, we are attacking that from multiple directions,” he said.

“The first and easiest step was to open up the front door and create room for more placements. But the more useful part, we believe, is taking the extra step of having new areas populated based upon a number of interesting criteria. These criteria range from your own defined tastes, player data and game ownership, Curator reviews, plus things like the Recommendations Feed.

“At the end of the day, New Releases and Top Sellers are interesting categories. But that isn’t the only way customers want to shop. And giving customers more options means giving developers more places for their product to make a connection.”

You can read our full interview with Kroll, where he discusses more details about discoverability on Steam, here.

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