Valve Plans Major Steam Curator Update

For the past few months we’ve been busy working on significant improvements and additions to the Steam Curator system. There’s still some work to be done before we can roll these out, but we wanted to share a bit about why we see Steam Curators as a crucial component to exploring Steam, and what changes we’re making.Why Steam Curators?
We’ve heard from many of you that you want to have a more curated experience when shopping Steam; where the titles that are surfaced and recommended and highlighted are picked by humans that you know and trust. But, we also know that players have different tastes in games, so it’s unlikely that any single person or group could cater to the specific interests of every player in the world. This is why we believe that Valve can’t be the only form of curation in Steam – we would be under serving the tastes and viewpoints of many players.

So, we’re focusing on how to support the streamers, journalists, critics, content creators, writers, enthusiasts, and friends that you already know and trust to be able to help you find your next favorite game. By following a few Curators on Steam, you’ll not only start to see their recommendations appear prominently when browsing the Steam Store, but you can also explore each of their customized spaces within Steam and see all the titles they have reviewed.

Using the Steam Curator features on Steam is an opt-in thing. If you’re not interested in the opinions of human beings helping you find games that are worth your attention, then we also have some powerful features coming just for you. We’re hard at work on significant improvements to the core recommendation engine which algorithmically suggests games for all Steam users. We’re anxious to talk in depth about that technology too, and will do so in a future blog post.

What changes are coming?
Over the three years since introduction of Steam Curators, we’ve gathered a lot of feedback from all kinds of perspectives. We’ve heard from players, from curators, from streamers, from game developers, and from all kinds of other tastemakers and content creators. The feedback is clear that the system needs to do a bunch of things better in order to work well for the three primary sets of people it’s trying to serve: players, curators, and game developers.

Players
This system really only works if players find value from following some Curators. So we’re adding to the kinds of content that Curators are able to create, and increasing the places within Steam where that content can be seen.

  • Recommendations provided by Steam Curators can already appear in the main featured spot on your Steam Home page as well as in a dedicated space on your home page. We’re building on this so that recommendations by Curators you follow will also show up at the top of tag and genre pages. This means as you explore, say the Free To Play page, you’ll see recommendations from your Curators for Free to Play games. If you are browsing RPG games, you’ll see RPG games featured from Curators you follow. And so forth.
  • Many Curators create videos to accompany their reviews, so we’ll now start embedding those videos in a few places alongside the curation. This means that when you click through a recommendation, or when you browse a Curator’s page on Steam, you’ll be able to watch their videos in-line.
  • We also know that some Curators will review games within certain themes, genres, or franchises. So, we’re adding a new feature for Curators to create lists of games they’ve reviewed that go together. These can be used to create lists such as “best couch co-op games”, “games with amazing Workshop support”, “games by my favorite designer”, “10 games to play while waiting for Witcher 4”, or any other set of interesting ways to organize groups of games.
  • And if you are looking to find new new Curators that share your tastes, or offer unique information about particular kinds of games, you can explore the ‘Recommended Curators’ or ‘Top Curators’ lists. We’re fine-tuning the ‘Recommended Curators’ section to more accurately suggest Curators who recommend games like those you’ve been playing.

Curators
One of the pieces of feedback we received from Curators was that they felt it needed to be more rewarding and meaningful for a Curator to spend the time it takes to build and maintain their curation. So there are a few new things we’re building to tackle this.

  • As we mentioned above, Curators that produce videos as part of their reviews will be see those videos embedded right next to their review in Steam. If you’re a Curator who’s already doing work to create content elsewhere, we want you to be able to use that work in your Steam curation. This means a few of the most popular video formats such as YouTube, nicovideo.jp, youku.com, and bilibili.com will appear right in Steam where players can easily watch them.
  • Curators will be able to customize and brand their home on Steam by selecting games, lists, and tags to feature and by uploading a personalized background.
  • We all know that graphs solve everything, so yes, we’re adding more of them. In particular, Curators will be able to see how their reviews impacted their follower’s behavior in the Steam store.
  • We are helping connect developers with Curators that are most likely to have relevant audience of followers for the developers’ game. More on this below.

Game Developers
We’ve heard from many developers that they need a way of getting their game in front of Curators that have the right audience for that game, and to be able to do it in a way that is easy and secure. We’ve also heard from Curators that it can be a challenge to reach out to developers, who are often swamped with requests that they can’t easily filter through. So we’ve built a whole new system that we are calling Curator Connect.

With Curator Connect, developers can search for appropriate Curators, and then send a copy of their game directly through Steam. We’ve added a number of tools for finding relevant Curators and for identifying the forms of social impact that Curator may have. To start with, developers will be able to search the listings of Steam Curators, narrowing results by name, OS, language, or tags that the Curator indicates they focus on. In the results, developers will be able to see a snapshot of each Curator, including follower counts and any linked social media accounts such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch, which can help verify that the Curator is truly who they claim to be. The developer can then build a list of the Curators they wish to send their game to, include a message describing their game, and hit ‘send’.

Curators can then browse a list of games that have been sent to them and can choose to accept or decline as they wish. Accepted games are added to that Curators Steam library to play and review. No need to mess with keys or e-mail.

Next Steps
Today we’re starting a closed beta with a few dozen Steam Curators of different sizes, niches, and languages. This gives us an opportunity to gather feedback and suggestions from Curators and gives those Curators an opportunity to use the new tools to prepare and personalize their store pages ahead of full release. The Steam Curators that are invited to participate in the beta are free to share their thoughts publicly, so you may see some screenshots or write-ups from these Curators as they explore the new features and discuss them with the community.

We’re aiming to run the beta for at least a couple weeks with just the Curators before releasing the update to everyone. Hopefully, this blog post helps you understand what we’re trying to do, and why, which we believe will help everyone to have a fruitful conversation.

As always, if you have any feedback or suggestions, please let us know.

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