Valve’s Steam just got a significant makeover that aims to create new reasons for users to invest in the digital distribution service. It starts with a completely redesigned homepage that tailors its selections to the signed in user’s particular tastes with personalized recommendations, a feed of reviews from followed “Curators” (another new feature), and new, more robust customization options for tweaking the layout of the page.
The so-called Steam Discovery Update also adds a feature called the Discovery Queue, which is like a more focused take on the newly personalized homepage. Each day, the queue refreshes with a new selection of games to take a look at based on your tastes. Users are beamed directly to a store page, from which they can follow a particular game, add it to their wishlist, check off “Not interested” to remove the game from recommended listings, or simply browse on to the next one. A “Next in queue” button on the page makes it easy to cycle to the next item on the list.
The new Curators feature adopts ideas from social media in a way that allows Steam users to live out their dreams of becoming a taste maker (that’s a real dream, right?). These Curators create lists of recommendations, complete with short (think Twitter) reviews, that other users can follow. Selections made by followed Curators are then beamed to the following user’s storefront. Anyone can become a Steam Curator; you simply create a group (or access one you already manage) and start making recommendations. Once you hit 10, you’re a Curator. Easy.
Finally, Steam’s search features also get a boost in the Discovery Update, with a whole new crop of options that allow users to whittle down a list of intriguing game’s out of Steam’s 3,700-plus library. New tags allow users to search for various specifics (such as “twin stick shooters,” “roguelikes,” or games with vampires, per Steam’s description) and then further refine those results by applying additional tags to the search filter.
All of these new additions have a specific goal: To create a friendlier environment in which you can exchange money for video games. It’s a good thing though, what with such an abundance of largely unknown games to choose from. New features that aid discovery are good for everyone: Developers can hope to more sales for their increasingly visible games and players can expect to see a more diverse lineup laid before them.
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