Steam Hoping to Revise Curation with 'Explorers'

Valve has ambitious plans to better cull what it calls 'fake games' from its service, and it starts with users.

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Valve has promised to revise its Steam interface to improve curation and weed out shovelware. Though the ideas are still in the planning stages, we're starting to get a better idea of how it intends to pull it off–including an ambitious-sounding plan to recruit users to act as a proving ground for games.

Valve invited commentators especially known for criticizing Steam curation like Jim Sterling (below) to visit the offices and talk with programmers about some of their plans. First, to the question of how the curation has allowed for so much shovelware to flood the market, Valve programmers noted that sometimes the lack of filter leads to surprises. They pointed to visual novels as a prime example, since it was a genre they had no idea would be so popular before it was easily available on the market place.

It also suggested that some games simply take advantage of the Steam Trading Card economy, in a way that Valve intends to fix with changes to how trading cards would work. It even dubbed these exploitative pieces of software "fake games," since they weren't meant to function well as video games themselves, and were instead simply a shell toward reaping the trading card rewards.

In the future, Valve also intends to give more information about what's being recommended and why, and to provide more public data on games that are released through the service. That could include factors like sales, but also more nuanced ones like time played or how it was discovered.

The most ambitious part of the plan is what's being called "Steam Explorers." Low-selling games would essentially stay off any visible part of the storefront. That way, these "fake games" would still be available for users specifically seeking them out, but wouldn't clog the storefront for everyone else. Explorers would aid in discoverability, by opting in to play these low-selling games and flagging ones that are actually hidden gems. Explorers would also get rewarded for their time, with some kind of bonus like store credit. Sterling was careful to note that the exact nature of the rewards is still something under discussion.

There's no timeline for these changes yet, as Valve is still in the early planning phases and seemed to be bouncing ideas off of its biggest critics while still laying the roadmap ahead. We'll see how they pan out eventually, but they sound like positive steps overall.

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  • reply
    April 3, 2017 12:02 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Steam Hoping to Revise Curation with 'Explorers'

    • reply
      April 3, 2017 1:13 PM

      So we can have Fake Reviews in the Fake News about Fake Games that are just shells for trading cards? Had no idea that was a thing.

    • reply
      April 3, 2017 1:16 PM

      Well, I have trouble seeing how what they come up with could be any worse than what they have now.

    • reply
      April 3, 2017 1:53 PM

      I wonder how one becomes an "Explorer"

      • ArB legacy 10 years
        reply
        April 3, 2017 2:50 PM

        Your dad has to be one and then he dies and passes the title to you.

      • reply
        April 3, 2017 3:22 PM

        Come on, Dora. Stop playing.

    • reply
      April 3, 2017 2:05 PM

      TotalBiscuit was at this meeting as well. His video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeEyCYv_QDI
      It is longer (over an hour) and goes more into the Steam Curators feature, that he feels would help the good games rise to the top, if only it would get some updates. It seems they are updating it, having recently added the ability to mark a 'recommendation' as just informational, or even 'not recommended'. This allows curators like the "30 FPS Police" to mark their 'recommendations' as non recommendations, to keep 30 FPS video games off your front page, instead of them being featured because you were following them as a curator. Still, the curators currently have to go through all of their reviews, one by one, and re-mark them as recommendations, information, or non recommendations, they isn't a way of mass-marking them currently. Valve also seems to be adding a way for curators to customize their pages, it list of games, so the curators ca put up lists such as Game of the Year list, or favorites per genre, etc. Still, there really isn't ways for searching the curators pages for types of games, and TB made some suggestions for ways this could be improved.

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      April 3, 2017 3:51 PM

      There's so much junk flooding through steam now.

      Sifting through the upcoming releases is a Trainwreck. Sure there's a ton of stuff but it's almost all garbage.

      • reply
        April 3, 2017 4:32 PM

        "Hmm, let's look at the Steam specials...."
        *sees 40+ pages of mostly garbage*
        "On second thought, I have better things to do with my time."

    • reply
      April 3, 2017 4:34 PM

      No way this could be abused. Nope. No chance of corruption at all.

    • reply
      April 4, 2017 6:42 AM

      So how many more revisions before steam finally realizes they should just spend the money and hire a team to do this?

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