Valve Introduces Steam Labs for Public Testing of New Services

Steam Leverages Machine Learning in New Interactive Recommender

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

Today, Valve is introducing a suite of new features as part of an initiative that gives users an early look at more experimental Steam tools.

Micro Trailers, the very first experiment that is available on Steam Labs, allows gamers to "absorb every game in the Steam catalog in just seconds" according to the description. Although the Recommender can learn quickly, Valve says it's keeping the existing Discovery Queue system to help surface brand new games. Micro Trailers are (as you might expect) ultra-short six-second game trailers. Users can refine those results by including or excluding certain tags, searching for titles that released within a specified time frame, and adjusting a niche vs mainstream slider. "STILTED, so we tabled that for a bit", the company wrote on the new feature's Steam page.

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Micro Trailers: As the name suggests, Micro trailers are short trailers to showcase the game.

"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. I tried watching the first episode, but I got bored a couple minutes in, given that it was basically the micro trailers feature except I wasn't in control. So unless you buy a lot of the games - and specifically buy them on Steam, so they'll be in your library - you might get diminishing returns over time.

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"Every year, we create dozens of experiments around discoverability, video, machine learning, and more", Steam said on its Labs page. To keep it simple, this tool can be used by all Steam users to find out which game to play next. The emergence of the Epic Games Store has challenged the ubiquitousness of Valve's storefront, and has much of the industry questioning its revenue split policies. It's a "neural-network model that is trained to recommend games based on a user's playtime history, along with other salient data" based on "many millions of Steam users and many billions of play sessions". The company just announced the launch of Steam Labs, an official destination where the company's new ideas are gathered for anyone to try out. "The automated show is like one of those cable shopping channels without the super-absorbent chamois cloths".

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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