Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Steam’s New Curation / Discovery Thingy

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 24, 2014

If you are on Steam, chances are you’ve learned about their new Discover interface and the new curation stuff. I’ve not had much time to touch it yet, but it’s high on my priority list.

The big question is… will it help people find the games they’d like to play. I’m not sure, and the jury is definitely still out. Some of my early experiments seemed to actually reinforce the existing bias – the popular games get more exposure, and everything else gets less. That’s for default settings, as far as I could see. This concerns me a little bit, as I expect 70%+ of Steam players will be going with the defaults. And there’s a likelihood that this effect won’t go away with the curated lists… again, the popular games may get more popular, and the forgotten games dropped further down the hole. It doesn’t need to be this way, but it concerns me.

This also burdens folks with discoverability of curators as much as anything else. So it moves the problem up a level.

But you’d expect some level of teething problems with this rollout. Hopefully it will bend the curve a little bit and result in the lesser-known games getting a little bit of a handicap. I’m very interested in this both as a developer and a gamer.

So have you played with it much yet? What are your thoughts?


Filed Under: Biz - Comments: 6 Comments to Read

  • Dave Toulouse said,

    I was actually pleasantly surprised by the big “recommended for you” slideshow. More than half the games in there are game I didn’t know existed or heard about some time ago but then forgot about them.

    However, it seems that following curators have an influence on this so that’s when it all goes away. Of course TotalBiscuit will probably put games already well-known in his list so if you start following him and you then see this games pop back on your front page then it’s useless because you already know about these and/or have them in your wishlist.

    Only curators I’ll follow will be those I KNOW are most likely to list games I don’t know about. I really don’t see why I’d start following a curator only listing the big names we already all know about …

    But it looks like I’m the minority here … again … On the other side, so far TotalBiscuit have about 150,000 followers which on the total userbase of Steam isn’t that much. Unless half of Steam users start following him I think that curators impact might not be that great after all since it seems (so far) the new front page does a good job.

  • McTeddy said,

    Well, I can’t see it doing any good. I assume that it’s just going to continue the current trend of burying everything niche or at least less mainstream.

    Sure, there might be a curator who does niche games… but how to FIND him. Same problems as yesterday except now I need to dig to find the curators that fit my needs and/or to find the games that do.

    I like the idea and I’d love to build my own list, but I only see this boosting the already famous and hurting new lesser known devs.

  • Finch said,

    I suspect this was inevitable, really. Greenlight opened the floodgates to any indie dev with the ability to download Unity3D, and Steam was well aware that their approval process was deeply and inherently flawed (even saying so themselves at one point, though I don’t remember the interview where they said it).

    Something had to give, and third-party curation was the obvious answer for Steam: it takes some resources up-front for them to develop the interface, but releases them from having to manage the constant deluge of new titles.

    I feel pretty confident in saying curation will allow Steam to consider their content problem solved — now they can open up Greenlight almost completely and let Curators do the hard work for them, so in that sense it will work.

    On the indie side, like Dave says, we’ll see how people users take to curators. On the one hand, there’s no obvious UI on the front page leading anyone to select a batch of curators, so their influence now will probably be minimal just because people only click on buttons in front of them. UX changes though, and Steam may already have a plan to lead folks to Curators once there’s enough steam behind a few to call them opinion leaders. I can’t imagine Steam would weight Curation opinion over user opinion in their preference algorithm, but who knows.

  • ShadowTiger said,

    I know about games i want well before they come out. As a consumer it is just a more cluttered and ugly interface.

    As a developer… I think there are just way too many games for any simple solution to work. I think this will slightly help give awareness to more obscure titles but really the true solution requires a very complex analytical process. They know which games you own, how long you spend in each game, and what your friends are playing. That should be enough to triangulate games you might want to play fairly accuratley.

    In theory anyways…

  • jwmeep said,

    I’m glad that Frayed Knights made it to both Rpg Codex and RPG Watch curation lists.

  • Dave Toulouse said,

    “Sure, there might be a curator who does niche games… but how to FIND him. Same problems as yesterday except now I need to dig to find the curators that fit my needs and/or to find the games that do.”

    The point I think is you don’t. You already know about the people that might be curators you’re interested in.

    For example I’m pretty sure the Ludum Dare curator didn’t get his followers from discovery on Steam but instead he got them from his established network.

    I don’t think “finding” curators is a problem. We already know those we’re interested in. Sure, I guess some would be great to discover but these people were talking about games before and we didn’t know about them back then either … So I can’t see the curator system doing more bad than good here.