Valve has shared some of its ideas about how it plans to improve the Steam storefront, including a feature that’s just rolled out.
Valve made a small change to curation on Steam recently. The store now tells you why this or that game were recommended to you. When you visit a game’s page based on a recommendation, you’ll see on the right a list of reasons why this game was recommended.
To explain the reason for this change, and outline the company’s higher-level plans for the future of Steam, the developer wrote a lenghty blog post about how it can meet the needs of players and developers, despite their widely varying tastes.
To do that, Valve broke down the different players and developers that use Steam into these groups:
- Players who are highly connected to the online game community & conversations, and players who are totally unconnected
- Players who browse the store looking for a game, and players who arrive already knowing the title they’re looking for
- Players who come to the store once a month, and players who visit multiple times a day
- Players who just want to buy the latest AAA title, and players who want to search for hidden gems
- Players who want to play titles earlier in their development, and get involved in their evolution
- Players who want games with specific attributes, such as a type of gameplay, support for a specific technology, translation to their local language, etc
- Developers with AAA titles that have large, existing fan bases, and developers who are barely known, yet have a game that would be a hit if players found it
- Developers who want to build deliberately niche games, and have them find that niche audience
- Developers who want to get community feedback earlier in the development process
In Valve’s view, a successful store would be able to treat these different people fairly. This gets tricky when you realise that the interests of these groups don’t often align.
“It might seem obvious that developers have some competing interests, but it’s also true on the player side – some players specifically enjoy exploring Early Access titles, while others never want to see them,” the company wrote.
As such, Valve doesn’t want to be the only group that decides what’s best for everyone, and it’s why it strives to make a store for everyone, according to the post. The company does, however, do basic checks to make sure games work before allowing them on the service.
This feeds into curation, and the new update added to recommend games. This, as Valve puts, is the company’s way of exposing the algorithm responsible for making these recommendation. By spelling out why game X was recommended or not, Valve hopes players will understand the system better, and thus help improve it.
In the coming weeks, Valve will pen two more blog posts. The first will deal with the ways some are exploiting the Steam store and how the company is going to combat that. The third and final one will reveal the new Steam Direct system, including the fee, as well as how different it’s going be from Steam Greenlight.