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Sweeping Steam 'Discovery update' makes it easier to find games you actually want

Hayden Dingman | Sept. 24, 2014
"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.

Queue up

Valve's also taken a more hands-on approach to recommendations than the impersonal stream of games. Similar to Netflix's Max, except without that annoying stupid voice, you can now take a look at your "Steam Discovery Queue." I honestly don't know why they chose that name because it just makes me think of a Netflix-esque queue, which this is decidedly not.

Instead Steam recommends twelve games to you, be they popular titles or titles it thinks you might be interested in, and you simply go through and either add them to your Wishlist, say you aren't interested, or skip the suggestion and move on.

"There is only a limited number of items in each queue to give a clear accomplishable goal," writes Valve. "Every time you launch Steam you can explore through your queue and feel like you've gotten a good idea of products that may be interesting to you."

Once a product has shown up in your Queue, it will never surface again. "If you manage to look through all the products on Steam (quite an effort!) then you'll only be able to get a new queue when new games or software are released," Valve claims.

My little pile of games

Finally, there's curation. To be honest, this is probably the most important part of the update. Any Steam user can now create a list of recommended games and share them with followers, be it a website (a la our totally hacked together official PCWorld Recommended Games list that I made last night as an experiment), a YouTube personality (TotalBiscuit), a company (Devolver), or a random community member.

Steam's Recommendations are great, its new Queue system is great (if a bit odd), but Curators is where the system really shines — it's like having a friend tell you about some obscure game they found on Steam, plus a brief explanation of why you should totally check it out. Of course, the system is also currently flooded with crap, but like Steam Tags and Steam Reviews I expect that'll filter out over time as the novelty wears off.

In any case, it's a huge step forward for Steam. All of the small updates that seemed fairly inconsequential over the past year, especially Steam Tags, suddenly make a ton more sense. Now if only they could implement tabbed browsing within the Steam client...


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