Just days after the end of a summer sale that laid bare many of Steam's issues with helping people discover new games, Valve has announced a new section dedicated to "experiments around discoverability, video, machine learning, and more".
That's the idea behind Steam Labs at least.
The new Steam Labs hub is available today. They could be tweaked, significantly changed, or outright dropped at any moment based on the whims of Valve and user feedback.
Valve also appears to appeal to developers by noting that the model does not require developer optimization, "The best way for a developer to optimize for this model is to make a game that people enjoy playing".
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The three launch experiments are Micro Trailers, the Interactive Recommender, and the Automated Show. "While it's important to supply users with useful information about your game on its store page, you shouldn't agonize about whether tags or other metadata will affect how a recommendations model sees your game". You can peruse these new micro trailer collections for builder games, RPGs, adventure games and plenty of other genres. Steam has a gargantuan library of titles and hundreds are added each month, so you're bound to miss a few.
Perhaps the strangest of these experiments is the Automatic Show, which will procedurally build a 30-minute broadcast of footage from new and popular games, and present it all to you in a digest format.
Interactive Recommender is probably the most interesting of the experimental features Valve released today as it allows you to play around with Steam's recommendation algorithm. Instead, it works with information gleaned from the Steam community itself. With Nvidia's Turing GPUs featuring Tensor Cores, itself hardware for the DLSS machine learning feature to save on performance through AI-powered image reconstruction, what do you think of the increased use of machine learning in games? It's a hefty undertaking by Valve that's unlike anything the developer has tackled in the process just yet. Firefox has its Test Pilot program where you can try various in-development add-ons, and now Steam is getting something similar.
For additional Steam Labs experiments coming down the pipeline, you can join the Steam Labs Community Group and keep an eye on when new additions join the hub. Meanwhile, we'll be watching to see where this all goes.