The sheer amount of games released in Steam grow daily by an insane rate. Do you know that there are plenty of specialized tools and ways to discover new and old games?
It does not matter if you are unfamiliar or an ancient seasoned user since the beginning of time and space, there is a high chance that you are searching more games to experience. Ever since Steam gave up on the Greenlight curation program, thousands of titles are added to the library each year. This is an oppurnity for every developer to publish their projects to a big audience, but it leads to the problem of flooding the platform with uncurated and bad games. Interesting titles worth your time gets harder and harder to find.
VALVE does its best to adjust and develop the internal algorithm and provide additional tools for recomendations in the shop. However many user are not aware of them. I want to bring a few into spotlight and briefly introduce their purpose. First I do an overview in a short and compact table form. After that I describe some of my favorite tools in a bit more detail.
|Tools and services||Purpose|
|Interactive Recommender||A machine learning AI analyzes the playtime of your games and tries to find the best possible suggestions for you. You can further change settings like if you want see more niche or mainstream games.|
|Discovery Queue||The traditional personalized linear list of games to click through their shop pages, one by one directly. It’s a mix of top selling and similar games you play.|
|Curators||Individuals and groups can create pages with reviews and recommendations. Every Curator have specialized or broader range of topics, cut always reflect a personal taste. Following some will help the algorithm to find the games you might like too.|
|Community Recommendations||This page is a collection of multiple games recommended by through the user reviews in the shop. You can directly read the review and scroll down to find other games without changing to any other page.|
|Deep Dive||A new way of discovering games. Select a game or type it and click the next one you are interested in. Every time you click, a new generation of similar games will appear and so you can dive in more and more.|
|Search||The well known search bar. Recently some new features are added and it is worth looking through again. Now you can limit the price point of the games or hide those you already own in example.|
|Hidden Gems (external site)||An algorithm which tries to find highly rated games, but are not very well known. Top 250.|
|SteamPeek (external site)||Similar to Deep Dive. This one also tries to find related games from those you click, but have a big focus on their ratings.|
Link: Interactive Recommender
What this tool does is, analyzing the playtime of most recent games you have played and trying to make recommendations based on this and some other information. Interestingly the machine learning AI does not care what reviews user wrote or what tags a game was given, it does analyze what users play. It even tries to understand that some games have generally a short playtime. I am not going into every detail, but there are some interesting settings you can make. For more information, read the original blog post by VALVE.
This slider will change the results to more popular (mainstream) titles or look for niche (hidden gems), which aren’t well known or played by a huge number of gamers.
You can exclude specific titles from the analysis to see how the recommendation works as if you wouldn’t have played this game at all.
You can still use the established tags to tell the algorithm to filter even more. The Add tag filters will display games with those tags only. Add tag exclusions will exclude any game with these tags.
Link: Deep Dive
This one is a different approach and not less interesting to me. The idea is to choose a game and based on the selection a new set of games will be presented. The way games are selected is based on three different tabs: Similar in tags, popular, gems. The further you click through with every level, the further you are from your original starting point. This is a super fun way of exploring in my opinion.
First type in the game you want to use as a starting point, so similar to it will be searched for you. Although you can skip this optional step and just click one from the list directly.
These are the different categories of games it searches for you. If you want, you can click the header and search in example more of hidden gems instead of popular.
The new search (if enabled) have some extended features you probably always wanted. Now you can filter by price and finally hide games you already own. Although it does not work perfectly and the results are wrong often times. Sometimes reloading the page after making adjustments in the settings helps, but does not clean the results completely. I hope they will improve on this in the future.
Note: The link above will activate the additional capabilities from the new version of the search. It is still experimental and can be opt out any time you want by clicking this link: Opt-out experiment
I mean this is the reason why you opened this page right? Type in a name or part of the name you want to see and lean back. It also works with tags, so make use of it.
With this slider you can adjust what the threshold should be. If you ever wanted to find games below a specific price, then this is the setting. If you check the Special Offers, then only games that have currently a price cut will be presented.
A long waited feature! Because I have so many games in my library and wishlist, I wanted them to be excluded from the search. And it does not make any sense to show up ignored titles, so make sure its checked.
The Curators program is simply a system where people and groups can make recommendations and lists. The system tries to find games that are recommended by as many Curators as possible of the ones that the user is following. That is the basic idea behind it.
Unfortunately this system have a bad reputation, because there are many trolls who make joke reviews and companies just recommending their own stuff. The system can’t be disabled, but following some and ignoring the trolls will help the algorithm to find games you probably like. The first thing to do is, searching the list and follow some you like.
Learn more about the Curator by clicking the About tab. Look at the games he likes, what type of genres are praised and decide if it is worth following.
The main Curators page will have one game chosen, which got as many recommendations recently by those you follow.
Steam have ton of features and tools, I can barely scratch the surface. And I didn’t even talk about the Steam API, which allows external websites to do their own stuff. I hope you enjoyed this article and found something new and interesting, which is my ultimate goal. Tell me if you found anything confusing or what was most helpful. Have fun exploring and don’t forget to play. 😉