Steam Labs experiments launched a year ago, and have given Valve the chance to try out new features, get them in front of users, and gather feedback before actually deploying those additions to Steam proper. Today, Valve is properly adding Community Recommendations to Steam, and the company has also offered some slight details on what’s coming next.
If you haven’t messed with Community Recommendations yet, it basically showcases a selection of recent reviews for a variety of games. You can sort out those reviews by the usual filters – playtime, date published, language, and tags – and the general intention is to expose you to more of the best PC games the community is enjoying.
Future Steam Labs experiments will include a news hub update which will let you specify curators in your news feed, including your “favourite press outlets” – which is just us, right? Valve is also making improvements to browsing the store, including “new points of entry, more compelling ways to browse, and more tools to filter while browsing”.
Alongside the additions, though, Valve has shut down a pair of experiments: The Automated Show and the Deep Dive. Valve found that the long-form game previews of the Automated Show didn’t draw much viewer interest, and when the platform needed shows for things like the Steam Awards, “we ultimately chose to hand craft it, rather than automate its creation, to achieve our communication goals.”
The Deep Dive would let you play six-degrees-of-separation to find new games to play, but again, Valve found there wasn’t much interest in the feature. The experiment did lead to improvements to the algorithms around tags, which has helped create the Query Expansion experiment for end users, the Tag Wizard for devs, and some internal tools at Valve to help the company organise the games showcased during events.