Valve Software is continuing to improve discoverability on its Steam PC-gaming platform. The company launched Steam Labs in July to test new store concepts. These experiments include an interactive recommender that suggests games based on your play history as well as a tool that condenses trailers down into bite-sized 6-second clips. Today, Valve is updating Steam Labs with even more tests.
Steam’s big new test is called, simply, “Search.” This is Steam Labs experiment No. 004, and it is a beefier version of the standard search tool. You can elect to begin using the new search by going to the Steam Labs website, and agreeing to do so. This will then become your default search when you browse Steam through the same browser. You can go back to the old search at any time by clicking the “BOO-O!” button at the top of the page.
The new search gives you more control over your results. You can now filter to only see games that are on sale or under a certain price. You can also exclude games that you already own, added to your wishlist, or ignored.
Filtering by tags is also more powerful now. When you search for something, Steam will show you the tags in order of frequency. If I search “difficult,” for example, I can focus that down to the 4,912 indie games that match that result or just the 1,007 platformers.
Finally, Valve is also introducing infinite scroll to its results. Now you don’t need to click through to the second and third pages. Press that “Page down” button and hold it until you get to the end of Steam.
Steam’s search isn’t the only new feature
In addition to the improved Search, Valve is also expanding other parts of Steam Labs.
Its 6-second microtrailers, now works with every game on the store. It previously only applied to certain categories. I still prefer the original Twitter account that creates a new microtrailer tweet for every new game that launches on the service.
And then Valve plans to soon launch experiment No. 005 called Deep Dive. This is a version of developer Lars Doucet’s Diving Bell prototype that enables you to explore Steam’s market by selecting a certain game and then branching out to other, similar games.
“The aesthetic I’m going for is ‘Wikipedia binge,'” Doucet wrote in a blog post on his website. “You start with some topic, then you click on links within that topic that seem interesting, and before you know it you find yourself following some totally weird but fascinating bunny trail you never expected you’d go down.”
It’s also similar to a character-creation tool in a game that surrounds your current face with a random selection of slightly different faces. And you can slowly morph your results into something closer to what you want by clicking along that chain.
Hopefully, Deep Dive will make it possible to find a game as beautiful as me.