Valve to give the Steam Store an overhaul

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steamchanges

Steam is a fantastic platform for buying things – provided you know what it is that you want to buy.

Sure, the system does use some machine learning to recommend games to you based on ones you’re already playing, but the sheer volume of games released to the platform means that it can be daunting to look for new games. I can’t imagine what it must be like for smaller developers without marketing wherewithal to release games on the platform.

Steam, as a storefront, is in dire need of a makeover. And that’s exactly what’s happening. Valve’s let Steamworks developers know that there’s a visual overhaul coming, and has detailed exactly what’ll be rolling out in the next few weeks. Here’s the list of changes (via neoGAF)

Home Page Visual Refresh.
The Steam home page will be getting a visual refresh to use bigger game images in some places, add some new ways of surfacing games, and remove some visual clutter.

Additional Left Column Navigation.
The left column of navigation on the home page will be getting a new section of links to main destinations such as new releases, top sellers, recently updated, upcoming releases, and specials. When logged in, there will also be links to sections for you such as popular among friends, recommendations by curators you follow, and your discovery queue.

Friends Activity.
We’re adding a prominent new ‘Popular Among Friends’ section right to the home page that will highlight what your friends have been buying and playing.

Top Selling New Releases.
We’re adding a new section to the home page for new releases that have reached the top sellers list.

Global Customer Preferences.
We’re adding some new options for users to specify their preferences for which product types they wish to see across the entire home page, rather than managing each section individually. This will let customers opt to exclude particular types of products, such as Early Access, Software, Videos, and VR from appearing on their Steam home page and on a couple other browse pages.

Targeted Visibility For New Releases.
We’ll be making some changes to the initial launch visibility of new titles to better reach appropriate customers. While we previously granted 1M impressions of each new titles on the home page, this approach was not scaling well and was an inefficient method for reaching the right potential customers. Click-through rates for most titles featured in this section were low, and it had become clear that not every new release is relevant to every user. We think we can do better.
With the upcoming changes, newly released titles will appear in a few different ways on the “New on Steam” page and in the “New on Steam” Queue. The goal is to reach a more engaged group of customers, and drive more relevant traffic directly to your store page. This change should result in your title appearing to a smaller, but better targeted group of potential customers based on their preferences and tastes. New releases will continue to be recommended to specific users on the Steam Home page and can appear in popular lists if doing well.

Targeted Visibility For Game Updates.
Update Visibility Rounds will be changed to show your game to a better targeted group of customers. While Update Rounds previously caused a game to appear for 500,000 impressions on the home page, we found this method to be too broad for effectively reaching interested customers. We’ll be changing this system to instead show the game to a more targeted group of customers. This will include your existing customers, users with the game on their wishlist, and other customers that Steam recommends the game to. This visibility will continue to be on the Steam home page and may show your title for up to a week in this spot.

More Steam Curator Options.
We’ve noticed that more than a few Steam Curators are using the curator feature to provide valuable information about games, while not necessarily recommending the title. We’re going to give Steam Curators the tools to indicate whether their post is recommended, not recommended, or simply informational. This helps us better understand whether a curation should be used to promote a game on the front page of Steam, or if it’s intended to be informational that should primarily appear on the individual product page.

Curators in Main Capsule.
The Main Capsule banner will be updated to include titles recommended by Steam Curators that users follow. This means we can better surface appropriate titles to individual users based on who they follow and trust to make recommendations.

Improved Steam Curator Presence.
When following one or more Steam Curators, users will see a specific section on the home page that highlights recent recommendations. This space can include popular new releases or smaller niche titles depending on which curators the user is following. This section is being improved to show off the games in a better way. Additionally, we’re creating a new landing page to highlight many of the titles recommended by all the Curators the user follows.

There are two features here that could see consumers and developers benefitting. The new targeted release visibility should help smaller games get seen by the sorts of people who’d actually play them, instead of being shown to everybody and then falling off the radar. The greater focus on Steam curators should help too. People can follow curators whose taste align with their own. Curators are now given more tools to help consumers make purchasing decisions. Of course, it’s a double edged sword here – as it’s also very open to abuse by angry internet mobs.

Last Updated: September 26, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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