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Valve revealed today that its latest Steam Labs experiment is optimizing its digital gaming store’s search engine.

Steam is the world’s largest digital PC store. It’s important that its users can easily discover new games, both for Valve and the publishers that use Steam. Right now, Steam can be a bit front-loaded. The games that are hits are big hits, while many more titles go unnoticed. The store hosts over 30,000 games, but recent years have seen huge dumps of new titles. Lately, about 10,000 new games can release on Steam in a single year (about 9,300 came to Steam in 2018), and that can make it hard for smaller and indie titles to get noticed.

Steam Labs is where Valve tests new features for the store. Recent experiments have focused on helping players find new games, like offering better recommendations based on their current library. You can test out this improved search function here.

Improving the kinds of titles that searches deliver could improve discovery. These improvements are using logic to better return results that users are implying, even if they don’t spell them out. In an example set by Valve, a game might be tagged “real-time strategy.” However, it could not have the tags “RTS,” “real-time,” or “strategy.” So right now, if you search for “real-time + strategy” in Steam, you wouldn’t find that game.


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This experiment fixes that. With the new search engine logic, it will know that you’re looking for RTS or real-time strategy tags when you put “real-time + strategy” into the search bar.

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