With the launch of the Steam Tags beta back in February, we gave Steam customers the ability to "tag" any game or software with genres, themes, attributes, or any other term or phrase that would help customers find similar products. In the time since the feature launched, customers have applied tags more than 4 million times and across almost every product in the Steam catalog.
Our goal for Steam is to keep getting better at helping each customer find the next games that they want to play. Tags are a critical component in helping the Steam store better understand which products are related, which in turns contributes to better recommendations of games for customers. While there are a number of important components in making confident recommendations for customers, this blog post will focus primarily on tags.
So, how do we measure the effectiveness of tags? Let's start by looking at a couple areas where the store is currently generating recommendations and have been affected by the existence of tags.
If you visit a product page for a game on Steam, you'll notice a section just above the reviews called "More like this". With the addition of tags, we can better figure out which games are most closely related thematically and stylistically. As a result, the amount of traffic through the 'More like this" section of the product page has tripled, which indicates to us that customers are finding those suggestions much more relevant.
Tags are also really useful for making specific recommendations for users based on the games they have been playing recently. Before we had the tag data, visitors to the "Recommended for you" page were just presented with items on their wishlist or DLC for games they had bought. We had genres on Steam, but we found that their usage was far too broad to be useful in making recommendations for similar games (for an example of this, look at the breadth of variety in the Action genre).
With the data we have from tagging, the "Recommended for you" page can actually suggest titles related to what you've been playing, and as a result, we've seen a significant increase in the percentage of clicks on the titles being recommended.
While we were looking at the impact of tags, we discovered that a couple of early decisions we had made were holding tags back from working even better. One of those decisions was to have a separate pool of tags for each available language.
We had assumed that some languages might have cultural differences in the kind of tags or the use of tags that would generate different data that is more relevant for users in those languages. That may still be true, but the downside of having separate pools of tags outweighs any positives that may be possible. Most languages, which have fewer Steam users than English, ended up with many fewer tags applied and a higher percentage of bad data from the tags (inappropriate tags, jokes, etc.).
As a result of this finding, we are merging tags from across all the Steam languages to create one list of tags which is translated by our community translators. This means that the same tags will show up on a game for every customer, though customers may see a language-specific translation of a term if it is appropriate for their language.
Another change we are making is in how similar tags get merged together and the threshold at which new tags become part of the system.
The degree to which a tag is useful for making recommendations depends on two elements: How many people agree that it should be applied to a specific game and how accurately it associates the games it is applied to. For example, highly useful tags tend to be objective descriptions of content or theme such as "Fantasy" or "Zombies".
Unhelpful tags are ones where users don't agree on usage, or they are too general to help the recommendation system actually find related games. An example of this is the tag "Fun". Since everyone has a slightly different definition of what is fun for them, this tag tends to get applied to a huge variety of games and dilutes our ability to identify which products are actually similar.
When we dig in deeper and look at the individual tags being applied, it becomes clear that there is another category of tags where there is a commonly agreed upon concept, but with many similar spellings or phrases to communicate that concept. For example, we found 4 different variations of a term for a game that supports user modifications: "Modding", "Mod-friendly", "Moddable", "mod supported". Since it is more useful to have a single tag for a term than it is to have a bunch of really similar tags, we have merged together a number of tags. In some cases when you enter a specific tag, you will see it appear as the variation that we have merged it into. For example, if you enter the tag "Mod-friendly" on a title, you will actually see the tag "Moddable" appear.
With this set of changes, we are removing the 'beta' tag on the Steam Tags feature. This is mostly a cosmetic change, since we will continue to make improvements to the feature as we learn new things about how customers are using tags and how we can better utilize the relationships being defined between products.
This week we shipped an update to the Steam Mobile app for iOS (v1.3) which adds new features and updates the visual style to make the mobile experience feel more at home alongside the desktop and Big Picture interfaces. We also revamped the mobile web experience for all users, which includes user profiles, groups, the storefront, and many other pages.
Offline Chat With the new iOS app, you can send messages to users who are offline as well as view any messages you have received while offline. This includes the ability to see your chat history with other users.
Friends & Groups Weve added support to the iOS Friends view for nicknames, Facebook suggested friends, and what platform (mobile, big picture, desktop) a friend is currently active on. The UI for responding to friend & group invites has been streamlined.
Notifications The notification badge on the iOS application icon will tell you at a glance how many pending notifications you have. This includes offline messages, pending friend invites, and pending group invites. The in-app menu will also break these down by type. Mobile users can control which types of notifications they receive by visiting the Steam Preferences page in their app settings menu. There are also iOS and Android system-wide settings which control how applications receive and display push messages, so users should make sure those settings are enabled if they wish to see Steam notifications.
Catalog The new mobile app and web storefront features an updated carousel and grid design, with the ability to easily filter titles by platform and DLC.
Feedback Your feedback is important to us as we continue to prioritize improvements to the Steam Mobile experience. If you have input, please visit the Steam Mobile Discussions and let us know!
Today were shipping a new feature were calling Trade Offers that allows you to send a prepackaged trade to a friend. Its similar to regular trading, except you propose the items for both sides. You select the items youre willing to give up from your inventory and what youd like to receive from your friend, and send it off. Your friend will receive a notification in the green drop down and can then choose to accept, decline, or make a counter offer. Unlike regular Steam Trading, you don't need to both be online at the same time. Plus, trade offers can be sent and received using a web browser.
You can create an offer from a few places: from the Trade Offers page in your Inventory, from a friends Inventory, and from any of your badge pages you can send a friend a trade offer based on the trading cards you still need to collect.
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions:
Who can I send an offer to? Currently you can send trade offers to your friends, though we may expand this in the future. Note that trade offers respect Inventory privacy settings, so if your friend has their inventory set to Private you cannot send them a trade offer.
Can I send more than one offer with the same items? Yes, you can send more than one offer containing the same items. When an offer is accepted any other pending offers with the same items will expire.
How long is a trade offer good for? Trade offers automatically expire after 2 weeks. You can see the offer expiration date at the bottom of a pending offer. You can cancel any pending offers from the Trade Offers page.
As we work to streamline the publishing workflow and improve the tools available to developers preparing for release on Steam, we've reached a point where we are ready to stress-test our system.
The best way to accomplish this is to invite a significant number of developers to use the updated tools and systems, ship their games and software with these tools, and to give us feedback so that we may continue to improve the process.
To that end, today we've Greenlit another 100 titles, bringing the total number of titles offered worldwide Steam publishing agreements via Greenlight to 260.
This latest milestone is both a celebration of the progress we've made behind the scenes and a stress test of our systems. Future batches are not likely to be as large, but if everything goes smoothly we should be able to continue increasing the throughput of games from Greenlight to the Steam store.
As with past batches, these titles will be released independently in the weeks or months ahead, as they complete development and integrate any Steamworks features they are interested in utilizing.
Today we're making Steam Trading Cards available to everyone. Steam Trading Cards are virtual cards you can earn just by playing some of your favorite games, like Team Fortress 2, FTL, GRID 2, Monaco, Trine 2, Super Meat Boy, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and more. In total there are over 30 games with Steam Trading Cards, with more being added every week. Collecting cards lets you craft new badges for your Steam Profile and earn rewards like emoticons, profile backgrounds, and coupons.
We've also updated everyone's Steam Community profile with a new look. The new profile has a more concentrated focus on what you play and how you participate on Steam. There are new customization options as well, like the new profile Showcases that let you choose what you want to show off: favorite games, items up for trade, workshop mods, hard-earned achievements, and more.
Additionally, you'll see a new "Steam Level" on your profile, and when hovering over a player's avatar. Every badge on Steam now grants XP, which contributes to your Steam Level. If you've been a Steam member for more than a year and have at least one game on your account, then you've already got two badges. You can earn more by participating in events and sales, collecting trading cards, trying out all the Steam Community features, and more.
We're excited to announce the sixth set of games and software titles to advance through Steam Greenlight, and be offered worldwide distribution via Steam. With weeks of busy voters and exciting new games hitting Greenlight, this batch is comprised of 20 items in total--18 games and two software titles--bringing the total to over 90 titles Greenlit since Steam Greenlight launched in August of last year.
The latest software titles:
PlayClaw - This game recorder got votes for its gaming optimization and utilization of multi-core processors for HD video capture.
GamePlan - This real-time strategy software caught the attention of strategy gamers as a way to help plan strategy and tactics for their favorite team-based online games.
The latest games:
Agarest: Generations of War - This Japanese role-playing strategy game quickly shot up the charts and will now add to the small but growing number of Japanese RPGs on Steam.
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures - Angry Video Game Nerd has built up a huge following on YouTube. That popularity appears to have translated into raging success in Greenlight with the game that bears his name rocketing to the top in only 9 days.
Battle Worlds: Kronos - This richly-colored turn-based strategy game blew through its Kickstarter goal and jumped quickly up the Greenlight charts with votes of excited strategy fans.
City of Steam - This free-to-play action RPG received a lot of visibility and votes from their beta at the beginning of the year, and now look forward to running another beta soon.
Cradle - This first-person adventure game caught the attention of Greenlight voters with its beautiful graphics, unique atmosphere, and compelling soundtrack.
Dead State - In less than a month, this survival RPG has jumped up the charts with enthusiastic support. Plus, the game blew past their Kickstarter goal in the summer of last year, securing an incredible 10,096 backers.
Dead Trigger - This popular free-to-play zombie survival game found great success on android, and has since seen updated graphics as the developers set their sights on Steam for PC and Mac.
Death Inc. - This beautiful and elegant strategy game has garnered a lot of positive press and votes with its unique art style and innovative gameplay.
Elsword - This free-to-play, action RPG uses classic side-scrolling beat em up gameplay mechanics and has captured the votes of existing fans and potential new customers alike.
Faceless - This cooperative and non-violent free-to-play survival horror mod for Half-Life 2 received overwhelming support from the community.
Frozen Endzone - The developers of Frozen Synapse bring the strategic depth of their first game into a new, original and innovative tactical future sports game, capturing the votes of fans and potential customers along the way.
Hammerwatch - This pixely hack-and-slash adventure game caught the attention of voters with their cooperative gameplay, character building, and modding support.
Legend of Dungeon - This colorful dungeon crawler has gained a lot of votes as well as critical acclaim from the gaming press.
Pinball Arcade - Fans of Pinball Arcade have been enthusiastic and vocal, leading to a solid base of support and interest from the community.
Planet Explorers - Currently in alpha, this ambitious open world RPG caught the attention of voters with its ability for users create new content and change the terrain.
Rush Bros. - This competitive platforming game caught the attention of voters and the gaming press with its innovative premise and integration with users' music library.
Shovel Knight - This action adventure game has been sweeping the Greenlight charts with a style reminiscent of platformer adventure classics. After blowing through their ambitious Kickstarter goal, the developers set higher and higher stretch goals, securing an incredible 14,749 backers.
As with past batches, these titles will be released independently in the months ahead, as they complete development and integrate with any of the Steamworks features they are interested in utilizing. Some will undoubtedly launch with Steam Early Access, while others are ready to launch in full soon.
Steam Greenlight is a new platform feature that enlists the community's help in selecting some of the next games to be released on Steam. Launched on August 30, 2012, Greenlight allows developers and publishers to post information and media about their game in an effort to convince Community members that their game should be released on Steam.
Today were adding three new Community features to the Steam Client; a new Community Home page, the addition of Artwork to hubs, and changes to the main Steam navigation menu. The new Community Home now shows you an infinitely scrolling page of the most popular content across all game and software hubs - including news, screenshots, videos, discussions, .and artwork.
With this update, youll find a new Artwork tab in Community Hubs, where you can now post or discover all kinds of artwork associated with your favorite Steam games. We posted some concept and character art in the Valve Community Hubs (Team Fortress, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, etc.) to help get things started. Let us know what kind of neat artwork youve created and share it with the community. To upload artwork, go to the related Community Hub's Artwork tab and look for the "Upload Artwork" button at the top right.
And finally, youll see new drop-down navigation for the main Steam menu, added to accommodate all the major destinations across Steam. Weve separated out all the links that relate to You from links that relate to the larger Steam Community, improving clarity and making for quick access to your favorite destinations.
We've just released an update to Steam Greenlight based directly on feedback and requests from the community both developers and consumers. This update includes the ability to skip items in your vote queue, improvements to collections, and new stats for game and software developers.
Since the Steam Greenlight service went live back in August, an average of three new games have been posted to Steam Greenlight every single day. With so many great game and software titles being added it can be pretty hard to keep up. One of the great ways to discover new titles is to just jump into your queue. It is your own personalized queue of games you havent voted on. From there you can vote Yes, No, and now 'Ask me again later' to skip a title for consideration again at a later date.
If you really like a particular Greenlight entry, you can favorite it to easily find it later, or now you can opt to separately 'follow' items to be notified when the developer posts new announcements. Similarly, you can now 'follow' collections in Greenlight to be notified when collection authors post announcements.
Meanwhile, a new set of detailed statistics are now available for developers to show exactly how many people are looking at their item, voting, and how that adds up over time.
You can read the full update details on the Greenlight blog here.
You've probably got some favorite games that you play a lot and know pretty well. Or maybe you've mastered playing as a certain class or character in Team Fortress 2 or Call of Duty. Or maybe you're just really good at finding all the hidden secrets in the latest Elder Scrolls game. How do you put that knowledge to use and help fellow gamers? Create a game guide on Steam!
Today we're rolling out Game Guides as a beta to members of the Steam Community Beta. With Game Guides, you can create a guide to help fellow gamers and share your expertise in whatever game you like. To get access to the beta, please join the Steam Community Beta Group.
Creating a Guide: Once you've joined the beta group noted above, simply go to the Game Hub for any game you play on Steam and look for the "Guides" tab.
Under that tab, you'll find a button to create a guide. You'll be able to upload and insert images or use screenshots that are already in your Steam cloud. You can insert YouTube videos and you can add friends to help you write the guide. When you're done, just publish your guide and it will be accessible to the community.
Feedback? Questions? We've set up a sub-forum for discussing guides and giving feedback within the Community Beta group here.
Please let us know what you think and if you encounter any bugs.
Preview of Team Fortress 2 Game Hub now accessible for all
August 16, 2012--Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the launch of a limited access Beta for its new Steam Community features.
The Steam Community Beta is now open to the first 50,000 players who earned the 'Pillar of the Steam Community' badge and includes another invite to share. Beta access will increase incrementally until the public launch.
To celebrate the launch of Team Fortress 2's new game mode, Mann vs. Machine, the Team Fortress 2 Game Hub is now accessible to everyone.
The new Steam Community update includes: Game Hubs - Every game on Steam now has a Game Hub, which provides a quick way for users to browse the best of a variety of content as rated by the community at large. Each Game Hub also includes a game-specific discussion area where players can talk about their favorite Steam games.
Group Updates - Player-created groups have been redesigned so it's now easier to see what a group is all about and who is participating in it. Groups now also include public and private discussion areas where they can remain in touch with their own communities.
My Content Updates - The content you've created now lives in one central place with new viewing options including an "image wall" layout that showcases your top-rated content. Also new is the ability to mark screenshots, videos, and workshop items as Favorites to save or share with friends.
Friend Activity - The new feed makes it easy to view, rate, and comment on the content and activities of your friends in a visually-rich and interactive presentation. Players can also broadcast game-specific status updates to start a conversation with their friends, directly in the activity feed.
Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC and Mac games with over 40 million accounts around the world and over 2,000 titles offered.