Valve have been down in the Steam Labs workshop for a year now brewing up ways for folks to more efficiently spend money in their store. Some experiments have been bust, others have gotten the stamp of approval and been shipped off as fully-fledged features. The Community Recommendations whereby you can see user reviews by all sorts of folks you don’t know, is graduating today. Valve are far from done though, with more experiments planned for the next year of Labs.
For a company that really loves to solve problems by throwing data and machine learning at them, the Community Recommendations is an interesting one. Steam appears to prioritise reviews based on how many other users vote them “helpful,” meaning they might be positive or negative. Recommendations will now be featured on Steam’s home page, but you can hop over to the main Community Recommendations page to specify how recent a review should be, whether the game is one you own or is on your wishlist, and how many hours the reviewer has to have played.
At the moment, I’m getting recommended quite a lot of reviews by one particular individual who, after examining their review history, has reviewed dozens of games in their library within the past, ah, 24 hours. I’m sure they’re all very well thought out. You may want to wait for the water to settle on Community Recommendations to get a more varied spread of opinions.
Amusingly, folks tend to ramble at the beginning of their reviews. Heck, I tend to ramble at the beginning of reviews. Steam doesn’t really worry about that when giving you a snippet of a user review in the recommendations page though.
You’ll get gems like “My feelings for this game are kinda complicated. If you want a tl;dr just read the last paragraph. If you want to know my personal thoughts as someone who 100% this game then give the rest of it a read.” Apparently 173 other users found this review of Lobotomy Corporation helpful, though I’d wager that’s not the useful part. The rest of the review is one click away of course, I’m just being a grump.
Oh, here’s one for Battlefield 3 that literally begins with the words “Tutorial: Not Review,” but folks have rated it helpful so I suppose that’s a review then.
My personal favorite so far is this review by “The Dunbar Beam” of Divinity: Original Sin 2: “Teleporting 30 corpses into the boss room, then casting “mass corpse explosion” to instantly kill the boss is a perfectly valid way to play the game.” Now that’s a review. No edits.
As for the future of Steam Labs, Valve have more projects in the works. They are continuing work on the News Hub to help you keep track of news and upcoming in-game events. As they previously mentioned, they’re continuing to make genre tags easier to use as as search tool. Micro trailers to help you get a sense of a game at a glace are being tinkered with too. In the future, they’re planning to add news from Steam Curators you follow to that News Hubalso.
You can find reviews by the big happy family that is Steam’s community pinned to the fridge—that is the homepage—starting today. Other Steam Labs experiments in progress are of course still relegated to their own separate page.
You can read a bit more, including info on the experiments that Valve have shelved this year, in their news post.