Steam’s Had A Major Front Page Update

Go take a look at your Steam front page. Huuhhhhhhh?! It’s changed! Valve have launched a major update to how Steam will appear to you. No, you. They’ve personalised the front page, in an effort to adapt to the far more rapid flow of new releases.

Valve reports that over the last nine months over 1,300 new games have appeared on the service. Which makes up about a quarter of the total number of games on the service. Thus the Steam Discovery Update, an attempt to make the front page more relevant to individual users, based on sniffing around their histories. Apparently purchases, playing time and friend recommendations all come into play in defining what you’ll have highlighted.

There’s also a new search, with “extremely detailed features”, and a much rumoured feature called Curators, letting people create their own store pages, with their own purchase recommendations – the idea being you follow those whose tastes match yours.

Some of it is customisable, and will apparently filter out games you’ve already bought, or said you don’t want to hear about any more.

They’ve also added a Discovery Queue, which guesses at games you’ll want to know about, and lets you pre-order (don’t pre-order), add to wishlists, follow, etc. Mine is suggesting me all manner of RTS games, so it’s both a) not working, and b) assuaging me of my fear stated above.

All of which appear to be ways of ensuring you see games like games you like. Which, I dunno, seems a bit of a shame. Half the joy of Steam is stumbling upon a game in a genre you usually avoid, that for some reason intrigues you.

Rather hugely disappointingly, the one thing they haven’t done in this update is offer a simple way to just see what new games have come out. We wrote in July about how new games are buried on the Steam front page, and how it’s hurting newer titles that don’t have immediate attention. That seems to have gotten a whole lot worse. Now, even if you do scroll down as far as the new release list, there’s not even an option to just default to showing all the new games on the front page – it’s actually a backward step! Now you can only see “popular new releases” on the front page stream, making life even tougher for those obscure releases that haven’t lucked out. They’ve gone and removed the complete list altogether. Damn it.

This is all the more frustrating when so many other features on this new front page boast customisability, but the lists (greatly improved by tabbing without achingly slowly reloading, it should be stressed) can’t be adapted at all. The complete list is now on a completely separate page, linked by a tiny button at the very bottom of the front page. It’s the precise opposite of what would have been good for the struggling new games.

This is endemic in the new design. Head to the Early Access or Free To Play pages, and they too have ditched just telling you what new games have appeared, in favour of “Popular New Releases”. And here there’s no way to just bloody show what’s recently come out. It’s like the cool kids at school get to decide who’s allowed on the playground.

So there’s a lot of effort into helping you “discover”, but a very minimal amount of actual customisation that can be done. It’s definitely a huge technical improvement over the extremely slow mess it had previously become, but it might well be a huge backward step for small indies with first releases.

120 Comments

  1. Gemberkoekje says:

    Well, being a set of well-mouthed individuals, as you are, you should take up the Curator glove and highlight said under-highlighted new releases yourself!

    Also, the whole point of the customization is to show you the indies you are most likely interested in, while hiding the games you are most likely not interested in. Also earlier mentioned curators come into play, they can highlight games you may not see otherwise.

    • Oakreef says:

      I’d defo sign up for a RPS curator Steam page.

      • slerbal says:

        Me too, and in general I’d burn the whole Curator feature to the ground, but I would follow an RPS one because you are RPS

        • Melody says:

          Why would you burn it to the ground? That’s pretty much the best thing that Steam has done for boosting games discovery ever.

          • jezcentral says:

            Yup, it’s about one step from an RPS Steam storefront. I do hope that is what Valve are trying to do. Of course, he most popular will be PewDiePie, and there will be a lot of YouTubers doing a Let’s Play kind of thing, and then linking to their own Steam storefront, for massive monies (even assuming a split of .1%), but I guess that is what the kids do these days.

          • karthink says:

            There’s no money to be made from referrals.

          • Premium User Badge

            basilisk says:

            There’s no money to be made from referrals, and there absolutely shouldn’t. Suddenly all those vague fears of corruption in the industry would become very real. Under no circumstances should a reviewer be receiving a cut from the sales of a product that he recommended.

          • slerbal says:

            You are right, it was too early in the morning and I was pre-coffee and was overly grumpy. I retract said burning and I would still like an RPS curation (Rock, Paper, Curate?). I just do not want a PewDiePew or whatever his name is :)

          • jezcentral says:

            I know there is no money at the moment, but I can see a time when that might be the case. And I am okay with that.

      • ScottTFrazer says:

        +1 Someone should make this happen

    • Niko says:

      Yeah, PC Gamer and Kotaku are already there, it seems, just below Total Biscuit.

    • Eery Petrol says:

      The heed has been answered. RPS vendor now lives.

  2. TheSplund says:

    Interesting, though the customizable filtering when you follow a curator does not stick and neither have they included the all-important ‘exclude alpha/beta (aka early access)’ games

    • SouperMattie says:

      Yep, I’m surprised there was very little discussion of the Curator functionality here – to me it’s at least as interesting as any of the other stuff. Note that on the home page, I can filter out Early Access stuff via the ‘customize’ button – can you not do that?

      A definite improvement is the way it clearly marks titles you already own. Long overdue, but at least it’s here now. The ability to filter already-owned titles out of various panels (which *was* mentioned here, in passing) is very welcome as well.

      Also: although “all new releases isn’t on the front page, there is a button at the bottom of the ‘popular new releases’ to see *all* new releases, albeit on another page. So not all that bad, in my opinion.

      • Buffer117 says:

        I find it bizarre theres no link or mention of their own curator page? I get it, RPS is cynical about this move but at least engage with the positives as well as denounce the negatives.

      • dahauns says:

        While I applaud that you finally can see which games you own/have wishlisted outside the detail view, ‘clearly’ oversells it.
        They are barely visible over the icon. When you are used to enhanced steam, that’s quite a step back.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Wait, they have, right? At least on the store front page, you can set what suggestions you’d like to see (from curators and such), including early access games.

  3. Clavus says:

    Don’t really get your complaint about the obscure indie titles disappearing from the front page. The intention of the new system is that if someone likes obscure indie titles, they can easily get those recommended by adjusting their preferences and following the right curators. Someone who isn’t interested in obscure indie titles shouldn’t get them shoved in his face if he doesn’t want to.

    No matter what Valve does, there will always be someone complaining about the selection algorithm. :P At least you can go play curator yourself now.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Yeah. Clearly Valves intention is to get to an App Store like point, where a new games list would be scrolling so fast you couldn’t possibly watch it if you wanted. It’ll be completely obsolete very soon, so they’ve not bothered building it in. Indies are going to rely on curation to get discovered. So RPS, where’s you’re curator page? PC Gamer have got theirs up.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      The issue is, the vast, vast majority of people buying games on Steam aren’t going to be figuring out how to personalise and curate their own front page. They’re going to use it like they ought to be able to – as a shop. And it’s going to obscure, obfuscate and hide games from the vast majority of its users.

      Let alone that what I want from my own front page is to be able to see all the new releases, including EA and FTP, and that’s completely impossible.

      • Xzi says:

        I think you’re wrong. The vast majority of people will want to customize their front page in such a way that it shows them only new releases that they might be interested in. That’s the whole point. Took me all of ten minutes to set up this way for my Steam store front page.

        Not only that, but every grouping of games allows you to sort by release date and new releases. Whether it be the “weeklong deals” section or just a genre as a whole.

        Wishlist games you definitely will buy, follow games you might want to buy at some point, and choose not interested for games you’ll never want to buy. It’s pretty straightforward.

        • Premium User Badge

          John Walker says:

          I believe you misunderstand how most people aren’t as passionate or as interested as that. 100 million accounts, of which a tiny few percent will ever bother with any of these features.

          • Xzi says:

            That’s selling the PC gaming community a bit short, I’d say. Steam is the most-used launcher/store/community platform for the vast majority of those that use it, the features are right there in their faces on the front page, and again, it takes no more than 10-15 minutes to use those features to custom-tailor nearly everything to a specific set of tastes.

            Most people who regularly use their PCs probably put more effort into Facebook on a bi-hourly basis than they would have to in order to make Steam personalized for a month under the new system.

          • lyje says:

            I think John’s right here. It may be easy to do, but most people simply won’t. Even PC users don’t, in general, care that much. Never assume people are going to use the advanced features of a UI unless you specifically nudge them toward it.

          • Premium User Badge

            pertusaria says:

            Xzi – If, for example, I play Football Manager and only Football Manager, other than perhaps [game of choice] on my phone, Steam is still my most used launcher/store, because it’s the only launcher/store I ever need. I’m not so sure whether this works for “community platform” because it depends on how general or specific you’re being.

            I have nothing against someone who uses Steam as “that annoying program I have to use to launch Football Manager”, but they’re unlikely to tweak the UI. I don’t have the figures, but I suspect they’re a decent-sized chunk of the total audience. The (possible) good or neutral news is that for the most part they probably weren’t using Steam for new game discovery before this, so the new system is not going to break something they were doing before.

          • Distec says:

            Some of it could be improved with fine-tuning and some gentle nudges towards using those features. But on the whole, is there any solution for those kinds of people? If you give somebody tools that will help them find the games they’re looking for, and they refuse to use them, then what else can you do? Steam’s never going to drop some press-button, automated magic that shows users exactly what they want or are interested in. I feel like the users who wouldn’t use these features likely weren’t using Steam for game discovery any way. I sure don’t, which is maybe why this whole discussion seems strange to me.

            We’ve really gotten used to convenience, it seems. Maybe we need to get back into the mindset that consumers need to do some digging on their own to find things they might enjoy, because no system or online shop in the world is going to hand all of that to them. And if a user doesn’t want to meet halfway and toggle some filters, then oh well. You can’t help them.

          • Dare_Wreck says:

            @Xzi – I completely disagree. Don’t the vast majority of people never change their mobile phone ringtone? There’s no way the vast majority of Steam users will customize their front page. Heck, I can’t even be bothered to do it (though that’s probably because the vast majority of games I buy these days come from bundles, and not directly from Steam).

          • derbefrier says:

            i dont really see a difference to be honest. IF you think the average user cant be bothered to click a few things on the front page then how the hell did they find these games before? by browsing the top seller list? well that still exists, the new release list? well so does that. I honestly dont think a indie game lives and dies by being on the front page of steam. Word of mouth, sites like RPS and others and those youtube guys telling us how good it is that what gets people to buy games they don’t know about. Hell I bet if you asked the number one reason a lot of people visit this site is because you shed a lot of light on less mainstream games(its what got me coming here). I think you guys are giving the frontpage of steam way more power than it actually has. The problem isn’t steam it that indie games are very literally a dime a dozen and they all think they deserve the spotlight. Which means if you want your game to stand out it has to be something special. seeing indie platformer with a twist #332328 on the front page isnt going to suddenly make you successful. learning how to manipulate social media, getting youtubers to play your game etc.. that’s how an indie is going to survive not by relying on a completely over saturated marketplace to sell your shit for you.

        • Rizlar says:

          Also genuine question – how do I customise the store page? So far I have only found the filters for recommended new releases and recently updated.

          edit: Ah right, I’m taking the lack of responses, my own lack of success and the comments of others to mean that no, this is in fact all the customisation it offers.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        But John, that’s because you’re the kind of person who wants to curate.

        The vast, vast majority of people aren’t like you. They don’t care about seeing everything. More importantly (and Valve being Valve, I’m sure they have data on this), showing them everything won’t generate sales. That thing evangelical churches teach about the average person needing to ‘hear the gospel’ seven times before they’re interested? True of games too. For people to invest in something they need to hear about it repeatedly and from someone they trust. The new games list moves to fast to do either of things.

      • SouperMattie says:

        @John Walker and @Xzi – with the utmost respect, my guess is that on the subject of the “vast majority”, you may both be incorrect. @somnolentsurfer is, I expect, closer to the truth.

        My educated (but also-could-be-entirely-wrong) guess is that the *real* vast majority of people do *not* want to see all releases, nor do they want to spend time customizing their own steam experience.

        I really do think that the vast majority of people just want to see “new and popular”. We can certainly debate whether that is good for PC gaming (especially little-known indie devs), but I think this is the reality: most people just want to see what’s popular.

        Most people don’t have nearly as many steam games as me, or John, or Xzi (I’m guessing), and they don’t think as deeply about games. They are not PC game journalists, nor are they people who avidly read PC gaming blogs. They just want something fun to play. What’s fun? Well, games that are already popular are an obvious starting point, if you don’t know any better.

        More discerning / eclectic / proactive PC gamers will either customize their steam experience (and hopefully the suggestion engine will improve over time – we can only hope that it will), or they will continue to get their information about new games from third parties like RPS, podcasts, friends, etc. The curator functionality should help with this as well, if you can find a curator with tastes similar to your own.

        Compared to pre-update, where you could customize virtually nothing, I think things have vastly improved for the more “involved” consumers and they haven’t gotten any worse for casual users. On the dev side, Indies will hopefully show up on curator lists and in the suggestion engine, if you’re the sort of customer who is likely to be interested in such games in the first place.

        1300 games over 9 months is nearly 5 new games per day. I don’t think very many people *at all* care to sift through that volume of new product, but even so the “all new releases” button is there if you want it. I do agree with John they should give “all” options to EA and FTP, just for completeness if nothing else.

        All just my opinion, of course… simply providing another angle to the discussion!

        • lyje says:

          This. Also, I think this should be framed a little differently – it’s not so much about what most users “want”, as how much they care. They may, in fact, want to see the latest releases (although I think you’re right that they don’t). But regardless, Steam’s default behaviour is not that. So most people, not caring enough, will go with the default behaviour and run with it.

        • somnolentsurfer says:

          Totally. John’s right that most people probably aren’t going to customise their front page. Heck, even most of the people I play with on a daily basis aren’t going to customise their front page. But that doesn’t mean showing them everything will be better for indies. Better for indies will be showing them the indie games they’re most likely to buy.

          RPS have written some excellent guidance for indie devs in the past about how to get your games in front of journalists. Following that kind of advice with prominent curators has always been and will continue to be the best way for new talent to get their work noticed.

      • andyhavens says:

        Not only do I agree with John, but the first thing I thought of when I saw that they’d changed the front page was, “Well, crap. They’ve made it harder to see all the new games as they come in.” That, for me, was part of the fun. Watching the stream of very different stuff come in, both indie and mainstream, both genres I like and those that I wouldn’t normally. It’s not like it’s a book site where hundreds of titles are released a day. We’re talking a few new titles a day… maybe, what… 20-30 or so a week? That’s fun to scroll through. I’m not more going to “curate” a page for a store’s website than I’m going to create a custom Google map for Wal-Mart.

  4. DyingFlutchman says:

    I just wish Steam would -finally- make DLC shopping a more pleasurable experience. For games like Hearts of Iron, Crusader Kings II or Saints Row IV it’s a hellish chore to go through all the individual DLC, add one to the cart, go back to the main game’s storepage, click the DLC, add to cart, go back etc.

    This could all be fixed with a clear list of all the DLC available for the game, with each having a tickbox and a clear display if you already own it and only going to your cart after you specifically chose to rather than everytime you add a piece of DLC.

    This seems like such a basic thing to code in with such a huge improvement of user friendliness that it bewilders me they haven’t done anything like this yet.

    Still, the new frontpage looks nice.

    • Jalan says:

      Get the Enhanced Steam add-on/standalone (I don’t want to risk getting caught by a spam filter erroneously so I’m refraining from posting the website but it’s easily found through Google – edit: or, as luck would have it, just read strangeloup’s post below) and you’ll have the ability to mass add DLC into your cart (and see if you already own some of it, among other features).

    • Clavus says:

      It actually does show which DLC you have In Library now if you hover over the entries.

      • ScottTFrazer says:

        Don’t even have to hover, just look for the blue bar on the left. I quite like that.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Why on Earth have you been doing that??

      Go to the game in your Library and just click DLC.
      Big old list of all the dlc, and which ones you own/don’t own. Buy em from there.

      • Anguy says:

        Thanks Big, that’s a feature I’ve never seen before! Good to know

      • DyingFlutchman says:

        Yeah, that sounds incredibly helpful. I’ll check it out when I get home. Thanks.

      • Zanchito says:

        I didn’t know about this feature either. Seeing this is quite a common problem, they might want to redesign so it’s more prominent.

      • DanMan says:

        Still not good enough for something like Rocksmith where you have maybe 100 individual songs and song packs to choose from.

        • thebigJ_A says:

          No, it’s not.That’s an extreme example. It’s only just barely good enough for things like Paradox’ strategy games.

      • Dare_Wreck says:

        @thebigJ_A – I had no idea about that feature either. Obviously, it’s not a well-known one judging by the comments here, so the nature of your response seems a bit harsh.

        • Baines says:

          Probably not that well known because it is obscure and because the Steam client traditionally has been the last thing you wanted to use to buy games.

        • thebigJ_A says:

          If you read it as harsh, the fault’s in you, mate. Be careful inserting tone into text.

          “Why are you doing that thing the hard way? Here, let me explain an easier way” is the opposite of harsh, it’s helpful.

  5. strangeloup says:

    It currently makes Enhanced Steam go a bit wonky, while adding a few of its features, but hopefully they’re working on an update.

    Not sure I like it, to be honest.

    edit: Also just checked my queue and there wasn’t a single game I was remotely interested in. This seems fairly standard for Steam though, as their new features basically never work right off the bat.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I got one that I wish listed (Wasteland 2) and one that I may be interested in (Endless Legend), but I guess part of the point is to show you stuff you haven’t heard of. And, as you say, I’m sure their recommendation engine will get better over time.

  6. Melody says:

    There is a small button, under “Popular new releases” to show “All new releases” (here: link to store.steampowered.com ), but yeah, i do agree that it’s a step backwards.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I do say this in the article. But yes, buried as much as it could be buried. And entirely unavailable for EA or FTP.

      • Melody says:

        Ooooh, sorry, I’m still a bit sleepy, missed that line =)

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Can I just say (without meaning anything untoward) that I intensely dislike those acronyms? EA and FTP tend to stand for.. other things than Early Access and Free-to-play.

        Also, it’s rather awkward that the option to show all new releases forwards you to a different page rather than actually it being a preference you can set for the front page.

    • Arren says:

      (Crosspost from RPS Curator article:)
      For Windows games, I recommend this, instead:

      link to store.steampowered.com

      (It filters out Videos/Trailers, Demos, Mods, & ‘Packs’ in favor of solely games.)

  7. kdz says:

    This is cool (or not) and all, but none of these updates are ever for me. Maybe I’m too hardcore or too casual, but I always know what game I want to buy because I read gaming sites like RPS. All I need is a search bar and voila.

    Though I understand the ways in which the current system sucks. If there’s no easy way to just see new releases finding hidden gems might get too difficult.

    • Anguy says:

      This is how I feel too. The games in my queue didn’t really surprise me

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah I’ve never bought a game based on seeing it in the new releases list on Steam, although TBH I rarely buy new releases from Steam anyway due to the awful pricing.

  8. Phinor says:

    I have a feeling that most indie games will never sell any meaningful numbers again, they don’t get even that little amount of exposure they used to by being on the front page aka. new releases list. The most popular will keep showing up everywhere, the rest are buried.

    I do have couple of things that could use improvement. First of all I’d like a free-to-play filter to all customize options, to filter out every free-to-play game. I’m not going to miss those games, regardless of how high quality they are. There’s enough normal games to play for the rest of my lifetime, I don’t need to spend any time with free-to-play games.

    Another useful thing would be to have a filter for specials/discounts section that sorts out the deals so that new offers are first. There’s 231 specials right now and once I go through that list once, I’d like to stay relevant by having the latest discounts first so that I wouldn’t have to go through that whole list every time. On that note, I’d like to see more than 25 titles at a time, perhaps 100 or a simple ‘all’ option. I like long lists, I hate clicking next after every 25 titles.

    • slerbal says:

      Yep, this. You’ve summed up many of my concerns perfectly.

    • Thrippy says:

      I’m doing my best to filter out all normal, retail, retro, indie, innovative, unique: platformers, scrolling arcade shooters, twin stick shooters, dungeon crawlers, 4X space games, train/farm/garbage truck simulators… et. al.

      This deluge of stuff is targeted at newer generations of gamers who need these introductions to various genres. I already have the best representative games in each of these genres, some have not been bested in years. I really don’t need to see wannabe clones on a daily basis. This is what turned me off of the Steam store all this year, not the oppressive behemoth AAA titles, not early access, not free to play.

      And I’m gonna keep playing Planetside 2, Warframe, Team Fortress, et. al. A very few free to play games will continue to stand the test of time long after the bubble bursts on derivative indie games.

      Isn’t personalization wonderful.

  9. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    Designed to ensure that popular things become even more popular and obscure things become obscure even faster. Wasn’t that why people were grumbling in the first place?

    I, for one, think that the internet’s obsession with sorting by popularity is unhealthy and just promotes mindless groupthink. But that’s probably not the popular opinion.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      I’m of the same opinion.

    • Melody says:

      The “sort by popularity” thing works on very small, niche website where everyone comes mostly for one main reason, because in that case it just gives you quality products. I do agree that it doesn’t work on a generalist game store like Steam, where there are people with wildly differing tastes.

      I guess they did try to put a patch on it with curation and personal recommendations. Actually, if last.fm and Amazon taught me anything, the most valuable way of discovering things is “People who liked the stuff you like also liked”, and that’s less biased towards popularity. Last.fm in particular let me discover a wealth of small and very small bands (less than 10k listeners, occasionally less than 1k). But Steam’s recommendation system doesn’t seem to work as well as Last.fm’s.

      Another issue is why we like something. For instance, you may like game X because of the gorgeous open world, another may like it for the story and another one for the combat system, and it’s very hard for the recommendation system to tell which one does it for you.

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        Yes, I know curation is supposed to be the element that can break this cycle, but right now, curators are sorted by, you guessed it, popularity. So, yeah. Not quite there.

        • DanMan says:

          Which is the actual problem: how to find a curator that actually likes the same stuff as you do more than half of the time. Clicking through pages upon pages of “popular” curators and their recommended games can’t be it.

          Following a wholesale outlet is probably no use. Like, if RPS puts every game they like on their feed – what good is that? I don’t like each and every genre – at least not equally.

          • Premium User Badge

            basilisk says:

            It also doesn’t help that the curators can only put together a single list, which really isn’t all that useful. You can’t put up a separate collection of “amazing games” and “games that are interesting but flawed” and “games for people with extremely specific tastes” unless you create a new group for each of them, each with its own followers.

            It’s a bit odd that after all the rumours that have been going on, what they came up with is pretty much the exact same thing that GOG implemented under the name of “GOGmixes” many years ago – which never caught on and was more or less abandoned and buried ever deeper with each subsequent site update.

    • slerbal says:

      I completely agree with you. Give me the obscure, the unloved and the interesting any day over the uber popular but bland.

  10. JiminyJickers says:

    I’m definitely not a fan of the new layout. I don’t understand why I can’t just have the normal, show all new releases on the front page. I now have to go to a second page to even see new releases.

    I don’t leave my Steam account logged in on the browser, just cause I’m too paranoid about having my Steam password stolen by a virus or some such thing. Therefore, I cannot even customise the page.

    For me the redesign is a massive step backwards.

  11. Melody says:

    There are some good curators, but it’s funny how many don’t describe their taste/reasons for their choices. Most just say “Good Games” or “High Quality Games”.

    Waiting for the RPS curator page impatiently =)
    Meanwhile, I do recommend this curator (been following on Twitter for a while) “Games We care About” link to store.steampowered.com )

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      Good point – this is something I’m working hard to sum up in my own curator page :)

  12. Llewyn says:

    Recommended For You
    Similar to games you play
    Bad Rats

    What have I become? (And yes, that’s the first recommendation in their list for me.)

  13. Radiant says:

    I’d follow the hell out of an RPS curated page.
    Or a recommended curator who specialised in highlighting games that would fly under my radar.

    Maybe they can be the same thing?

  14. slerbal says:

    I also worry that this new store is going to kill lesser games entirely. I hate games being shown by popularity as their defining feature. Say no to groupthink!

    As for the new queue feature out of the 480 games I’ve looked at I’ve marked 278 as Not Interested and they were basically all the F2P and MOBA tat. If I could filter out every Free to play, MOBA and MMO’d be happy. Early Access can stay because so my my judgement calls seem fine.

    I’m also not sure about the new Curators thing – surely that is just Steam outsourcing the service they should be providing themselves? Also unless I can hide it it is also clutter.

    There are one or two nice new features though: it’s faster, you can show new games that are co-op,the reviews balance is stated on the page (though again this does have issues).

  15. nordic says:

    Anyone noticed how they don’t provide a link to a game’s forum on the store page?
    It is only there in the library view, for games you already own.

    • Melody says:

      Game’s store page -> Community Hub (Top right) – > Discussions

      • DanMan says:

        Hmmm, not sure I like that. Not just that I never really look at the C-Hub, it often takes a lot of time time to load, turning it into a roadblock on my way to the forums. But I can see why they put it there.

        • jrodman says:

          Yes, the “community hub” has web-developer-itis. Try to click on the discussion tab as fast as possible to avoid loading eleventy-billion giant images.

  16. Bradamantium says:

    Gosh, that curator selection filled up awful fast. And I can’t figure out how to search and see if there’s anyone I actually care to follow in there.

    Jim Sterling’s awful lonely on my followed list.

  17. Melody says:

    Some interesting thoughts on this stuff by the always-relevant Campster/Errant Signal/Chris Franklin
    link to twitter.com

  18. gbrading says:

    Steam can’t be bothered to make their release dates correct for old games: they just whack up the current date even if the game is 20 years old. That’s why the New Releases list currently isn’t worth a damn and is probably why Steam removed it.

    Still, this redesign is a backwards step that makes discovering obscure games all the more difficult.

  19. Pixieking says:

    From the consumer point of view, all this seems to be true. But judging from this:

    link to store.steampowered.com

    It seems like pubs/devs are going to have more flexibility in where and how their games get shown? Which can only improve visibility on the consumer side?

  20. TheSplund says:

    Since my first post, I’ve built my own curator to test and added the minimum 10 recommendations and followed myself but there’s no intelligence behind this – it seems no better than a twist on something social media-orientated.
    I have found that the ‘Recommended for you’ and ‘recently updated’ Store front lists do have the ability to exclude early access which is a step in the right duirection – ideallIy I’d like/need something that I can really filter by – I’d like to be able to filter out things like CoD games, top-down, rogue-likes, casual games etc.

  21. BluePencil says:

    My first encounter with the “Queue” showed me many action first person shooters and first person survival things which are exactly the sort of thing I don’t play. And since it says the queue won’t change its behaviour based on things I tick off as ‘not interested’ it’s presumably not going to get any more canny about things.

    • slerbal says:

      Yeah I found that a bit weird too. Surely the point of pressing Not Interested is to help fine tune future recommendations.

      • DanMan says:

        The problem there is an inversion of the same as with the ones you do want to have recommended: their algorithms may start hiding games you actually are interested in.

        • slerbal says:

          True. I can only hope they improve their algorithm as recommending me games simply because they are popular is pointless. I am not a fan of MOBAs, F2P, MMOs or Anime-style games, and yet that is a very large segment of my recommendations which is why I am up to 295 “Not Interested” (as in: strongly dislike) out of 512 recommendations. As you can probably tell I’ve been force going through the queues to see if I can improve the recommendations and I have… a little.

    • Rizlar says:

      Wait until it starts to suggest things based on store pages you have recently viewed, which were themselves suggested by your queue. I’ve already seen a bunch of games pop up like this!

      • Mana_Garmr says:

        Yeah, that’s quite annoying. My current list of recommendations, or as many as I was willing to look at, seems to be a pretty even mix of:
        a) games that are popular
        b) games that are recommended because I looked at a game they put in my queue
        c) games recommended because I played “X” recently where recently appears to mean up to 3 years ago at least
        d) game I already own elsewhere but I can’t tell the system that
        and e) Expansions that are recommended based on my owning the Ultimate/GotY/Deluxe version of a game which already includes that expansion

        It reminds me of going through my Amazon recommendations years ago and realising that their algorithm and I differed greatly on what made two books or games “similar”.

        • Rizlar says:

          It also amused me that it was suggesting stuff based on my viewing of games because they looked absolutely bloody awful. Games where the cover art was so terrible I just had to see what it was. A significant proportion of the suggestions seem to be based on my car-crash window shopping.

          • Baines says:

            I do that with bundles, looking at the individual games to see whether might be remotely interesting or completely awful. I knew CastleMiner Z was awful, but wanted to see what kinds of reviews it had on Steam (answer: half the positive reviews are blatant jokes/trolling), so now Steam thinks I’m interested in CastleMiner Z and is offering recommendations based on that interest.

            Sites that run Amazon ads have a similar issue, though. You look at something and decide *not* to buy it, and then see that items that you obviously didn’t want for the next two days on any sites that run Amazon ads.

  22. damaki says:

    I don’t care, I only use the search engine to get to the game I want to buy. As any online application store, as soon as the games got numerous, the discoverability of these reached nil.
    I do not need Steam to discover games, only to buy them.

  23. lyje says:

    While I share essentially all of the concerns John and others have expressed, I actually think this is a major improvement. Thing is, the comparison is between this and a system which *didn’t* work for indies. It didn’t work even a little. Bemoaning the loss of the “New Releases” section is moot, since that section was horribly biased against indies anyway.

    That’s not to say this is the right direction – a new releases section done right would have been great. But this is still a lot better for indies, since with curation they have a chance. With the previous system they had none.

    • JD Ogre says:

      “Thing is, the comparison is between this and a system which *didn’t* work for indies. It didn’t work even a little.”

      Except it did, and did so quite well. Until Steam decided to stop curating their own store, anyways.

      • jezcentral says:

        I can’t agree with you. One of the main drivers for change was that indies couldn’t get into Steam in the first place.

  24. Premium User Badge

    pertusaria says:

    Its recommendations for me are quite clunky, but then I haven’t been playing games through Steam much lately and a lot of my games are bought elsewhere and not linked with Steam, so how’s it supposed to know? It did throw up a few things where I’d at least think “Yeah, I’ll probably play that eventually”. I couldn’t always find a one-click way of being “not interested” if I already owned a game, which is unfortunate, but maybe I’m just missing something.

    I’ll continue to use the “Specials” tab as a quick way of looking for quirky things that may have slipped past RPS, but this has also been re-jigged to open in a separate window if you want more than just the first few hits. Perhaps there will be a lot of tweaks to the new UI in the near future.

  25. DarkMalice says:

    Two things I hate about this change:

    1) I cannot customise the layout, or which segments of the layout are displayed. If you are going to toss a lot of junk on the front page, allow me to prioritise how it is displayed.
    2) The Friends activity (what they’ve bought/are playing) is not available on the front page. The best indication of which games I would like to play, are what my friends are playing. Replacing that with some data-mining-based algorithm (which suspiciously highlights newer games) is not preferable.

  26. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Best thing about this: I was looking at the list of weeklong deals, was on page 2 and clicked on something. Wasn’t that interested, pressed the back button and… IT TOOK ME BACK TO PAGE 2. And didn’t randomise the list of games either. Fucking finally. That had really been annoying me.

    Also seems to work for the lists of new releases/upcoming games etc. No more pressing back and having the top sellers list come up so you have to click several times to get back to where you were.
    Sorry, I know I’m making a big deal of this, but it really was something that made navigating the store a nuisance.

  27. Detocroix says:

    No mention about the Greenlight banner completely absent from the store page? ONLY way to find it is now to go through Community tab. The old store did have Greenlight banner even if it was on bottom and not very well highlighted. Greenlight already lost massive amounts of visitors when they moved the banner from top to bottom and now it’s probably going to sit somewhere between zero and nothing.

    I know they are going to phase away from the whole Greenlight failure and the curator system is clearly what they are planning on going with (being extremely similar), but it is still the only way to get your game on Steam without getting in bed with a publisher…

  28. JD Ogre says:

    Butt-ugly, full of spam (recommendations everywhere, including an endless page that loads more as you scroll down, curator section, the “Discovery Queue”), and reduced functionality (eg, the Daily Deal now being well down the page instead of being right there in front of you when you first load the store, without scrolling).

    And, of course, the store page is laggier than ever and its process even more bloated than it became in the last client update. (Before the update to do separate processes for everything, Steam averaged maybe 50MB. After that update, 50MB for the main process, 10MB for a steamwebhelper.exe, then another 40-50MB if you open the store page. After this update, the other stuff’s the same, but the store page is 60-75MB)

    All this effort to make the store even less useful than before rather than actually do their job and curate to keep out the trash…

    “an attempt to make the front page more relevant to individual users, based on sniffing around their histories. Apparently purchases, playing time and friend recommendations all come into play in defining what you’ll have highlighted.”

    Oh, and that’s just evil, by the way, and whoever it was at Valve who decided to implement it should be fired immediately, without severance or pension.

  29. Wulfram says:

    The recommended feature seems to be overly responsive to recent activity. Thus for me it’s getting obsessed with rhythm games because everything I’m playing at the moment is non-steam, except for Audiosurf

  30. purpledoggames says:

    I’m sure there will be many of these mismatches in the new update, but here’s mine: “Recommended: Life is Feudal since you wish for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction”. Yes, an open world feudal sandbox is totally the same as a linear story driven Tom Clancy techno-stealth game.

    • Baines says:

      Steam’s recommendation system was awful from the start, so it can really only improve.

      When they first added it, it just pulled the games from your Wishlist. I personally found it funny during the period where it treated all reviews by friends, including “Not Recommended” ones, as games recommended by your friend. And the links it made were as absurd as the recommendations the Xbox 360 would give you whenever you felt silly enough to look.

  31. DThor says:

    “This game is being shown to you because (it is popular)”

    Why I hate smart filtering. I even get pissed at Netflix for this, but at least it’s just a row or two of the main display. Thing is: people are complicated, and “smart” code is only as smart as the coder, or in this case, who encodes the games. I appreciate a gamer posting “if you loved xcom, you really should look at silent sentinels – perfect example of an old engine but wonderful game play”, but the odds of me getting that from (is popular) are low. Still, the curator notion is interesting.
    Yes, you should look at silent sentinels.

    • slerbal says:

      Do you mean “Silent Storm” and “Silent Storm: Sentinels”? Cos if so, definitely yes.I loved those games so much, except for the Panzerkleins. Some of the best turn based strategy games ever. I can’t believe no one has ever improved on them.

    • jrodman says:

      Typically recommendation systems start out limited by the data, but eventually are limited by the problem space.

      Basically, initially you dont’ actually know what anyone likes, so you give crap results. If users provide a lot of information about what they like, then they kind of work. They should recommend things that are basically the same to what you already like, and things that are liked by nearly everyone.

      The problem is you already know about the things that are nearly identical to what you already like. And you probably already know about the things that everyone likes.

  32. raiders5000 says:

    So far, my favorite button on the new layout is “Not Interested”….

  33. Cross says:

    I disagree largely with the sentiment of this article, not because it’s not a valid point, but rather because it’s outweighed by the benefit of burying all the poo that has been flooding Steam. Out of those 1300 games, a large porportion deserve to be buried and forgotten. Besides, indies coming onto Steam have to go through Greenlight, and so establish a core fanbase to spread the word once the game actually gets on Steam. It fans out through networking, and at the same time throughly buries the sh*t that nobody likes. In general, this is what many people asked for: The ability to sift through the garbage and find the stuff that is relevant to you.

  34. Morte66 says:

    The customization doesn’t seem to do much. E.g. I can’t tell it to exclude anything that’s tagged as “multiplayer”, “survival”, “driving”, “pixel graphics”, “adventure” etc. A simple filter on tags would cut out 80% of the games it suggests, and maybe make it worth me looking at what’s left.

  35. Cockie says:

    The recommendations can be very odd. I get suggested Octodad, Wasteland 2 and Dota 2 because I have LEGO Batman on my wishlist. What? :/
    Oh well, at least it’s better than the previous suggestion list which only listed stuff from my wishlist.

  36. Saii says:

    I like the curator option, but tbh I tend to pick games which I think will offer me something a bit different from what I’ve played before – the update seems designed to deliberately get in the way of me doing this. Just because I’ve played Sins of a Solar Empire a lot doesn’t mean I also want to play Endless Space, thanks.

  37. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Mother of God, all the flaws of a recommender system in the new Steam store page. STEAM: ENTROPY. GIVE ME SOME ENTROPY.

  38. Bookbuster says:

    I got my hopes up that I could use the curation function to create a collection of games that are subjected to the extremes of regional pricing (e.g. the Australia tax) but, alas, you must actively rec a game to ‘curate’ it.

  39. Frank says:

    Only “journalists” would care about keeping abreast of the flood of games newly on Steam. Us human gamers, we benefit from recommendation tools, thanks. You lot at RPS can just pay someone to write a script to extract whatever “new release” list you’re after. Quit b****ing already. This update is exactly what I was waiting for.

    Oh and f*** gatekeeping (the “curation” that you keep on saying Steam should do before letting games on). Sure, abating the flood of games, say back to 2007 levels, might give indies greater prominence, but recommendation tools allow indies to attain prominence with the right audience, and I really like that everything under the sun can be had on Steam now.

    Once more for good measure: please ST*U.