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Valve "Steam Labs" To Open Experimental Features To Public Testing

12 July 2019

Finally, the Interactive Recommender uses machine learning to recommend new titles to you based on games you're now into. The new recommender won't replace current recommendations on Steam, as right now it's just in the Steam Labs phase. According to Valve, they've apparently heard our cries for better tools to help us discover games specifically tailored for the individual player. Using a neural network trained to recommend games based on a user's playtime history and other collections of data, it analyzes various play patterns, preference and a wide variety of additional information about the games you gravitate toward. The feature takes a look at how much time you've put into certain games in your library and, from there, tries to determine what other games might interest you.

For now, Steam Labs has three active experiments: micro trailers, an interactive recommender, and an automated, daily half-hour show about games. The Recommender learns the rest of the information it needs during the training process. To start with, the company is launching with three experiments, but more will be added later.

Interactive Recommender doesn't require developer optimization. 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?

The Interactive Recommender appears to be geared towards solving Steam's search problems.

"Sensory overload" comes to mind when viewing the micro trailers, especially since the games' logos are displayed at such a small size that it can be hard to tell what exactly you're looking at. The result was that many indie game developers saw a drastic decrease in traffic to their games' store page. "In the past I have felt positive about Steam, but these discovery changes and the recent revenue share changes that are only relevant to hugely successfully games don't make me feel particularly positive about the future of selling games on Steam", Birkett wrote on his personal blog.

Indie developer Yitz told Kotaku that trust in Steam has weakened since October 2018.

There's a slider to weigh recommendations by popularity, and another slider that works on age, going from released in the last six months up to ten years. Micro Trailers is pretty self-explanatory and will show you short six-second clips of games on the Steam Store, while the Automatic Show compiles a bunch of trailers from Steam's most popular games and shows them to you in one oversized, 25-minute sizzle trailer. You can reach him on Twitter.