"A smarter storefront, personalized just for you." That's the tagline for Valve's new "Steam Discovery" update, which is the first major overhaul to the PC games storefront since the addition of Big Picture Mode back in 2012.
Steam Discovery is about...well, discovery. Ever since Steam Greenlight turned the once meticulously curated storefront into a morass of I-don't-even-know-what-the-heck-this-is-since-it-barely-even-works, it's been harder and harder to separate out what's worth playing. Plus with over 3,700 games on Steam, there's quite a back catalog waiting for you to delve into.
But it's hard. Time and time again developers have complained that being featured on the front page of Steam is the only way to make significant sales.
A new home
Well, hopefully that's no longer the case. It all starts with Steam's retooled homepage, which as Valve says has been "personalized just for you." The top-of-the-page Featured showcase as well as the New Releases and Recently Updated boxes below are now customizable, allowing you to (for instance) excise Early Access or preorder content from those sections of your homepage.
Search has been upgraded to take advantage of the massive database of user-sourced Steam Tags. Want to search for co-op games? You can do that. Want to search for games with Oculus Rift support? You can do that too. The results aren't always perfect, but it's a huge step up from the borderline-useless search feature before.
When you get to the "bottom" of the homepage — you know, the block of legalese that typically signifies "stop scrolling" — ignore it and keep on heading down. This is where Steam now keeps its personalized recommendations, based on games in your wishlist, games you play a lot, games your friends play, and even games you only viewed in the store.
Some of the suggestions are still a bit janky, such as when Steam recommended I buy three different versions of Counter-Strike because I like "Strategy Games," but those kinks will undoubtedly get worked out. Valve claims the list is "nearly endless."
And the best feature of all? Steam now tracks which games you own, so it'll stop recommending you buy Portal 2 when it's sitting right there in your library. In less personalized sections of the store (such as the New Releases tab) games you already own show up with a big "In Library" banner.
Now if only Steam would provide smarter sale prices on bundles prorated for games you already own, a la GOG.com, then we'd really be talking.
Also, "If you see a title you are not interested in, just click the 'Not Interested' button and Steam won't show that item to you in the future." Goodbye, Daikatana.
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