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Hubs, Bub: Steam's Community Revamp Open To All

I wonder if people would worry less about Valve one day turning evil if their logos didn't look like they were conceived in the middle of a maniacal cackling and lightning storms convention.

It’s not exactly a secret that Steam has a fair bit of clunk in its trunk, but Valve – to its credit – is slowly taking steps to make its digital giant a wee bit gentler. First up, the community. Once a cluttered mess of clicks and disorganized, disjointed pages, it’s now evolved into a promising fusion of Facebook, Reddit, and the color gray. And now, with a brief beta out of the way, you can come on in, take off your gaming coat, and have a look around.

Pretty solid, huh? The Reddit-ish nature of Game Hubs has potential – though they still feel a bit limited at the moment. Also, I’m all for freedom of speech, but let’s have a look-see near the top of Dark Souls’ hub, shall we?

Yep. So there are some definite kinks to work out – especially in terms of both what content is curated and how exactly Valve and the community will go about doing it. On the upside, it’s nice to see Steam Workshop and Steam Greenlight get more prominent placement. Greenlight, though, is still in kind of an odd spot. I mean, it’s possible to share Greenlight games with friends now, but only by clicking over to Greenlight, searching for the game in question, and then posting it back to your community profile. The new tagging system, unfortunately, leaves Greenlight out of the equation.

Meanwhile, collections – an, in theory, promising means of promoting both Greenlight and Workshop content – are awkward to create (I have to favorite a game and then add it at a separate collection menu?) and tucked away in the deepest reaches of friends’ profiles. So the community update seems like a decent start at putting everything in one place, but its practical utility still falls short – especially where integration with potentially game-changing community-driven systems like Greenlight is concerned.

But then, Valve’s mighty Tinker-Tron 9000 has been in overdrive lately, so I doubt it’s done turning Steam into a better-oiled machine just yet. Valve is, after all, not generally the sort to toss a project out into the wild and then just leave it with nary a peep. Well, except with that one thing, I mean.

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Nathan Grayson

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