Valve has notified developers of a host of changes to Steam – the world’s largest PC game distribution platform. These include an overhaul of the home page, additional navigation options, improved curator presence, and a whole lot more.
“We wanted to let you know about some upcoming improvements we’re working on for the Steam Store and what it might mean for your game,” a private post on a Steam developer group that found its way to NeoGAF reads.
“When we launched the Steam Discovery Update, we introduced a new and smarter Steam store built around personalisation and recommendations. In the time since the Discovery Update, we’ve iterated on the features and made improvements to support the goal of helping each customer find the titles they are most likely to enjoy playing. We think our progress in this direction has been really valuable in supporting a broader variety of gaming experiences big and small, while better serving individual customer tastes.”
The post goes on to state what you can expect. These include a home page visual refresh, resulting in bigger images in a few places and to “add some new ways of surfacing games, and remove some visual clutter.”
Furthermore, the navigation column on the left will contain links to new releases, top sellers, recently updated games, upcoming releases, and specials. When logged in, users will see what’s popular among friends, their discovery cue, and recommendations from curators they follow.
Interestingly, it goes onto to explain changes in terms of how new games used to get visibility on Steam and how it wasn’t working, highlighting the fact that discoverability isn’t a problem for the App Store and Google Play alone.
“While we previously granted 1M [one million] 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,” the post reads. “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 update to Steam, new titles will appear “in a few different ways” on the New on Steam page. Valve wants to reach a larger number of engaged users so as to drive relevant traffic. It claims this could result in a developer’s game appearing smaller but to a group for who has a larger propensity and potential to bother with it.
Also, how visibility works for a game that’s just been updated will change too – existing users and those who have it on their wishlist will see it. Reason being, previous update rounds caused a game to appear for 500,000 impressions on the home page- too broad for effectively reaching interested customers.
What does all of this mean for you? If it works as Valve intends it to, a better store experience. For developers it might mean a smaller audience, but one that has a greater chance of engaging with their games. It will be interesting to see how all these changes take shape in the weeks to come – the timeline in which Valve plans to roll these out. You can check out the entire list of visual updates to Steam that are expected here.