Steam Overhauls Store to Improve Discoverability and Customization
If you’ve been on the Steam store since Monday evening, you might have noticed that things look a little different. Gone is the familiar black, white and grey. In is a mix of blue, white and grey that is just a little bit easier on the eyes.
The fresh coat of paint isn’t the only change that the Steam store launched this week. The whole front page and games listings have been given an overhaul designed to improve discoverability of new games and customize your Steam store experience.
The front page’s new layout will be the first thing to grab you. The new releases list has been changed to Popular New Releases so that spam of old or terrible games is minimized. There is a new link at the bottom of the Popular New Releases tab that brings you to a list of all new releases. Games shown on the front page also have little indicators that show you if they’re on your wishlist or in your library so you can see that without having to click into a game’s store page. There is also customization options for the featured banner, the New On Steam ribbon and Recently Updated ribbon so can you see the game and software categories that you want to see.
Discoverability and personalized recommendations got the bulk of the work in this update. The home page has a “Discovery Queue” that brings you to the store pages of a list (queue) of 12 popular, new and recommended games. The bottom of the page has your recommendation list. It’s based on games you’ve played, wishlisted or your friends have recommended. Unlike the Discovery Queue, it doesn’t seem to run out of recommendations at a certain count. The list seems to just keep autopopulating forever so you may not reach the end until you’ve scrolled through every one of the 3,700+ titles in the Steam catalogue.
Adding to the discovery theme, Steam has added a new Curator feature. This isn’t the individually controlled mini-store with a commission that was believed to be in Steam’s plans at one point in time. Instead, it’s kind of like a moderated recommendation queue. Curators are groups or officers of groups who set a list of recommended games that you can follow. These groups can add recommended Steam Curator lists. I’d imagine these games will be added to your recommendation list or Discovery Queue in addition to being visible on the actual list assembled by the curator. And, yes, I’m working on an et geekera Steam group and Curator page as you read. Expect news on that soon.
Store pages have been overhauled slightly. The game description box to the right of the screenshot slideshow has a summary of user reviews (indicating positive or negative and how much so). Underneath the slideshow are buttons to wishlist, join the game’s group (“Follow”) or indicate a lack of interest which will factor into your recommendations and Discovery Queue. You can also see which how many and which Curators recommend that particular game.
The overhaul might take a bit of time to see how well all the new discoverability features work. I don’t mind that Valve is trying to hide all the terrible games from view rather than putting them on the same plane as major new releases since we can see them all if you hit the right button. I’m a little concerned about good recommendations from Steam’s algorithm but I have that concern about all stores wasting my time with bad recommendations. At least the colour scheme is prettier, the filtering and customization options are welcome and maybe it’s just me but the store seems to be loading a bit faster too.