Sunday, 25 August, 2019

Valve launches Steam Labs, focusing on experimentation

Valve Valve launches 'Steam Labs,' a new hub for testing out experimental features
Emmett Howard | 12 July, 2019, 12:25

Valve will take any and all feedback from those who participate in the testing, and will make a determination on whether they need more work or not.

The second, the curiously named Interactive Recommender, is the one that's likely to be of most interest to indie developers and publishers. It uses machine learning for that and analyzes for how long each game was played by a particular user. According to Steam, "This experiment looks at how much you've played each game in your Steam library and uses the magic of machine learning to recommend games you might like". But in a bit of behind-the-scenes information, Valve also explained that it doesn't feed any data about the game into the system except for the release date. What this means is that if you play Doom, you will not only get other FPS games, but also games that you can filter based on genre, popularity, and other tags to help you find hidden gems you may like. Clicking on a collection will bring up a grid of videogames, you can then hover the mouse over one title to start the trailer or over the entire row to start them all.

The company is making three experimental services available for testing right away, with more to be added later. Steam, which is now the largest PC gaming client, gives users recommendations on what to play next. While Steam does have several ways of finding content, the Interactive Recommender puts a new twist on things. This tool takes a look at your play history and recommends games based on play time and preferred genres.

Easily the best feature shown off in Steam Labs is the Interactive Recommender which will allow users way more control over Steam's notoriously finicky recommendation algorithm.

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Valve announced Steam Labs today along with three work-in-progress experiments: Automatic Show, Micro Trailers, and the Interactive Recommender.

Finally, there's the Automatic Show, which is kind of like a video showcase you'd see at press conferences for events such as E3.

An iteration on the Twitter bot of the same name, Micro Trailers are Steam Labs' attempt at creating automatically generated, six-second trailers for every game on Steam in order to allow users to avoid missing any of the platform's latest additions. They could be tweaked, significantly changed, or outright dropped at any moment based on the whims of Valve and user feedback. We sometimes see as many as 30 new releases for headsets in a week.

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