Steam Blog - christen
The Summer Sale has begun, with deep discounts on thousands of games!

Buy games, earn points, then make a quick stop at the all-new, here-to-stay Points Shop, where you're sure to find the perfect souvenir for your summer adventures on Steam.



The shop features dozens of new animated stickers and chat effects, profile backgrounds, mini-profile backgrounds, avatars, avatar frames, and more! Plus, discover hundreds of profile backgrounds and emoticons associated with your favorite games, now available in exchange for Steam Points.

In celebration of Summer, claim your free animated stickers at our road trip destinations over the course of the next two weeks. Plus, save an additional $5 when you spend $30 during the sale, or the equivalent in your country.

That's right, Summer is finally here! Unless it's winter in your country. Hi, Australia!





Steam Blog - AndrewL



We're continuing our Top Release series with a look at games released in the month of May. While the month brought dozens of exciting new games to Steam, these are the Top 20 titles that stood above the rest. As always, we gather the Top 20 by looking at revenue generated by each product during the first two weeks after its release. We're also showcasing the Top 5 free-to-play games released in May, measured by total unique players.

Developer highlights

About half of the games on this month's list are coming from developers releasing a game on Steam for the very first time. It takes an incredible amount of effort and dedication to create a top monthly release, and to do it with a Steam debut is quite impressive. To the following teams, congrats and welcome to Steam: Blacklight Interactive, Duoyi (Hong Kong) Interactive Entertainment Limited, GhostShipGames, Kabam Games, Inc., No Code, Noobz from Poland, PersonaeGame Studio, Relentless Studios and vanripper.

We're always interested in looking at the huge variety of countries where these games are being developed. It's awesome to see players being able to enjoy products from all over the world. With developers hailing from 11 different countries this month, chances are one of these games is being worked on in a neighborhood near you. Check the lists below for the full details.

Month of the free-to-plays

Three games this month appear in both the list of Top 20 revenue generating games, as well as the list of Top 5 free-to-play games: Crucible, GWENT: The Witcher Card Game and Shop Titans. We've seen that happen in past top release lists, but never with multiple games in the same month. Not only did these products build up a big following of excited players, they also added extra content that their communities found to be a worthwhile enhancement to the base experience. We're looking forward to watching these communities grow even further with future updates.

May's DLC releases

Speaking of extra content, May included several big DLC releases that really resonated with players. We don't normally include DLC in our monthly Top Release lists, but with the amount of new content they add, players can often get just as much out of DLC as they would a new game. So for this month, we thought it would be fun to look at the top 5 DLC releases of May, based on the revenue they generated during launch. Check the list below for the Top 5.

--

May's Top Releases
Here's the list of May's top releases ordered by release date (we've organized this list on a sale page too):


Shop Titans
Kabam Games, Inc. (Canada)


Hydroneer
Foulball Hangover (UK)


Deep Rock Galactic
GhostShipGames (Denmark)


Super Mega Baseball 3
Metalhead Software Inc. (Canada)


Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor
Stray Fawn Studio (Switzerland)


Library Of Ruina
Project Moon (Republic of Korea)


Golf With Your Friends
Blacklight Interactive (Australia)


GWENT: The Witcher Card Game
CD PROJEKT RED (Poland)


Mafia III: Definitive Edition
Hangar 13 & Aspyr (US)


Blackthorn Arena
PersonaeGame Studio (China)


Crucible
Relentless Studios (US)


Total Tank Simulator
Noobz from Poland (Poland)


Monster Train
Shiny Shoe (US)


Observation
No Code (Scotland)


Space Haven
Bugbyte Ltd. (Finland)


Gunfire Reborn
Duoyi (Hong Kong) Interactive Entertainment Limited (China)


ShellShock Live
kChamp Games (US)


Dungeon Defenders: Awakened
Chromatic Games (US)


Poly Bridge 2
Dry Cactus (New Zealand)


Shantae and the Seven Sirens
WayForward (US)

--

May's Top Free Releases


These are the Top 5 free-to-play titles from May, organized by total unique player count:


Crucible
Relentless Studios (US)


GWENT: The Witcher Card Game
CD PROJEKT RED (Poland)


Shadow Arena
Pearl Abyss (Republic of Korea)


Helltaker
vanripper (Poland)


Shop Titans
Kabam Games, Inc. (Canada)

--

May's Top DLC Releases

Here are the Top 5 DLC releases from May, organized by release date:


House Flipper - HGTV DLC
Empyrean (Poland)


Brawlhalla - Battle Pass Season 1
Blue Mammoth Games (US)


Sid Meier's Civilization VI - New Frontier Pass
Firaxis Games & Aspyr (US)


Total War: WARHAMMER II - The Warden & The Paunch
CREATIVE ASSEMBLY & Feral Interactive (UK)


Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath
NetherRealm Studios, QLOC & Shiver (US)

--

If you're curious about previous months, here are more Top Release lists:
Steam Blog - Alden


From June 16 at 10am PDT to June 22 at 10am PDT, the Steam Game Festival will showcase the newest games across every genre from developers in 65 countries. Fans will have a chance to try out new projects from first-time devs and veteran developers alike, including the opportunity to be among the first to demo some of the most highly anticipated games of the coming year.
​​
​​The event will also feature unique content throughout the week, including:
  • ​​Developer demos and livestreams
  • ​​Developer Spotlight: Original interviews
    ​​
  • Playthroughs with the devs themselves

​​This is the third Steam Games Festival, and the largest yet. What began as a collaboration with Geoff Keighley and the Game Awards featuring a dozen titles soon branched off as a Valve-run event, with over 40 demos featured this spring- and now over 900 titles in the summer edition.
​​
​​See more details and join the festival here: https://store.steampowered.com/sale/gamefestival

​​Follow the event on social media and join the conversation: #SteamGameFestival
Steam Blog - AndrewL


Returning to our monthly series of Top Releases on Steam, April brought a whole new batch of products and developers from around the world. As always, this month's charts look at the Top 20 products released in April (measured by revenue generated during the first two weeks after launch) and the Top 5 free to play products released in April (measured by unique accounts that played the game).

It was quite a diverse month for Top Releases, as games in April were developed in 14 different countries (check the full list below for details). April also saw nine development teams finding success with their first-ever Steam launches. Welcome and congratulations go out to the following studios: 1939 Games, Bad Pixel, Byterunners Games Studio, Gentlymad Studios, Live Motion Games, Meerkat Games Corporation, Steel Sky Productions, Topgolf Media and Unfrozen


Developer Spotlights - Early Access
As we build these charts every month, it's easy to notice the consistent representation from titles utilizing Early Access. April was no exception, with 10 tiles either entering or exiting Early Access. 

So, for this month's post, we thought it would be exciting to celebrate a few products coming out of Early Access, while hearing a bit about the journey from their developers. We asked 1939 Games (Kards - The WWII Card Game) & Unfrozen (Iratus: Lord of the Dead) about their experiences and takeaways from Early Access, what their players enjoyed most, and what they'd recommend to other teams who may be considering this model of development.


1939 Games
After forming in Reykjavik, Iceland five years ago, 1939 Games began working exclusively on their World War II themed card game - KARDS. Looking back on the game's run through Steam Early Access last year, Ingó Aevarsson from 1939 reflected on the experience, "Early Access was an invaluable part of our journey, especially due to the PvP focus of the game. We treated Early Access like our dress rehearsal. You don't get the same exposure as a fully released game, but there are just enough players to gather a lot of valuable data and feedback."

Ingó also emphasized how the team was careful not to rush into Early Access, sharing some advice for developers thinking of jumping in right away, "It was critically important to enter Early Access with a polished product, to create a positive atmosphere from the start. You should not regard it as a public QA for buggy, alpha code."  

As 1939 moved through Early Access, Ingó says data gathering became central to the game's evolution and resulting success. As he put it, "The Early Access community is very passionate and willing to help you out, so you can use that to the game's advantage. The feedback loop with the community helped us shape many strategic development decisions."

Anyone following KARDS updates over the past year has seen how seriously 1939 treated this feedback loop. Nearly every week, the team released game updates, devlogs and bug fixes, all of which, Ingó says, were shaped by player behaviors, PvP stats and direct feedback from the Early Access community.

In addition, one of the big highlights for 1939's Early Access experience was the KARDS World Championship they hosted last December. Beyond the excitement of getting to watch players compete in the game they created, the team said they benefited from learning about all the ins and outs of hosting a tournament within the confines of Early Access, "It enabled us to create support structures and standard procedures ahead of the official launch," said Ingó.

April's release was good enough to put the game on this month's list of Top Releases, but it was also a validation of the relationship 1939 built with the entire KARDS community - something that the team knows they can count on, well beyond Early Access. Ingó sums it up by saying, "KARDS Early Access paid off in big ways, and the community is now a strong advocate for the game and a constant source of support and engagement."


Unfrozen
Another studio that took the path from Early Access to April's Top Release list is Unfrozen. From their HQ in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, the team at Unfrozen launched Iratus: Lord of the Dead into Steam Early Access in July of 2019. Once the team had a compelling playable version of its tactical, turn-based RPG, Unfrozen saw Steam Early Access as the right opportunity to start building a dedicated community, as they fine tuned several aspects of the game. 

Denis Fedorov from the Unfrozen team explained, "It was super important that players could directly affect our decisions. We had pros and cons concerning some existing mechanics and systems, and it was feedback from the community that helped us make final decisions."

Denis also pointed out how important it is for developers to be transparent and set the right expectations with their players. From the moment the Iratus store page went live, players could find comprehensive Early Access information, outlining a development timeline, Unfrozen's motivations for using Early Access, and specifics detailing available features in the game.

"We shared our plans and vision with the community from the very beginning of this project." said Denis. "The most important thing about it – being open with the community."

He said this relationship grew even further as the game progressed through Early Access.

In describing how players fit in, Denis says, "Our players were able to be part of the Unfrozen Team!"

If that sounds like an exaggeration, look no further than Unfrozen's Discord channel, their update history, or the game's Steam Discussions over the past year. There are numerous examples of players and Unfrozen devs going back and forth discussing mechanics and identifying bugs to address.

"The most active and devoted part of our community appreciated that we trusted them so much," said Denis.

A simple look at the game's review graph over the course of Early Access illustrates growth on that trust, as the game steadily climbed from a 71% review score when it first launched to the 86% positive rating that it has today.


A big thank you to both 1939 Games and the team at Unfrozen for sharing their experiences with Early Access.

--

April's Top Releases
Here's the list of April's top releases ordered by release date (we've organized this list on a handy sale page too):


Endzone - A World Apart
Gentlymad Studios (Germany)


RESIDENT EVIL 3
CAPCOM (Japan)


Blush Blush
Sad Panda Studios (Canada)


Deadside
Bad Pixel (Russia)


Fallout 76
Bethesda Game Studios (US)


KARDS - The WWII Card Game
1939 Games (Iceland)


Drug Dealer Simulator
Byterunners Game Studio (Poland)


Dragon Marked For Death
Inti Creates (Japan)


Warhammer Underworlds: Online
Steel Sky Productions (Australia)


112 Operator
Jutsu Games (Poland)


Cloudpunk
ION LANDS (Germany)


Iratus: Lord of the Dead
Unfrozen (Russia)


MotoGP™20
Milestone (Italy)


XCOM®: Chimera Squad
Firaxis Games (US)


Trials of Mana
Square Enix (Japan)


HYPERCHARGE: Unboxed
Digital Cybercherries (UK)


Gears Tactics
Splash Damage (UK) The Coalition (Canada)


Moving Out
SMG Studio (Australia) Devm Games (Sweden)


Streets of Rage 4
Dotemu & Lizardcube (France) Guard Crush Games (Canada)


Train Station Renovation
Live Motion Games (Poland)

--

April's Top Free Releases


KARDS - The WWII Card Game
1939 Games (Iceland)


Soldat
Soldat Team (Poland)


Royal Crown
Meerkat Games Corporation (Republic of Korea)


Samsara Room
Rusty Lake (Netherlands)



WGT Golf
Topgolf Media (US)

--

If you're curious about previous months, here are more Top Release lists:
Steam Blog - christen


Has the time ever felt more right to take stock and enjoy what’s sitting right on your shelf?

The Spring Cleaning Event is designed to help! DEWEY Decimal, the Smart Home Librarian, is here to suggest fun new ways to dust off and dig into your Steam Library collection of games.

Alongside DEWEY, this year’s clean sweep includes new challenges like Play Next (recommendations from your Library based on your play history), and Remote Play Together (recommendations from your Library you can share online with your friends).

For players who’ve yet to build a Library of their own, DEWEY even recommends free titles to help you make the most of Steam, now through May 28th at 10am PDT.

So get to work, Spring Cleaners – Let’s dust off those unplayed games!

https://store.steampowered.com/springcleaning

Steam Blog - Alden
Earlier this year, Experiment 008: Play Next entered the Steam Labs for testing. Using machine learning to make informed suggestions, the feature is designed to help users with extensive libraries decide which of their games to play next.

Based on positive feedback from customers, Play Next has proved successful enough to graduate from the Lab. With today's Steam Client update, that functionality is now integrated into the Steam Library.

Users who have unplayed (or very low playtime) games in their library, will now have a Play Next shelf available in the library view.



For more information, please visit:
https://store.steampowered.com/labs/

Steam Blog - christen
Now We're Thinking with Queries

In this experiment, Query Expansion, we improve Steam Search by treating tags more like a human would: using logic! Take the three tags RTS, Real-Time, and Strategy, for instance. If a game is tagged RTS but not Real-Time and Strategy, a search for Real-Time + Strategy won’t find that game using Steam's existing Search tech. Query Expansion fixes that.

You can experience our new Search Results - including those surfaced thanks to Query Expansion - when you visit Steam Labs Experiment 004.1: Search Query Expansion. Here, many searches which leverage tags will now cast a wider net and display more titles. As always, we’d love your feedback; You can let us know what you think of your new Search Results in the discussions.

Read on to learn about how Query Expansion gives better search results.

Improving Search Results with Query Expansion

The core of Query Expansion is that we don't just consider the tags on a game, but also the tags that these logically imply.

Let’s say you're hankering to play a 3D Platformer, so you select the 3D and Platformer tags in Steam Search. As a result, you see something like this:



However we also have a 3D Platformer tag. If you searched for that instead, you'd get more results, but this is also missing some items from your first search:



Now, when you opt into Steam Labs’ improved Search with Query Expansion you get all of these results, plus more, regardless which set of tags you use to perform the search. Here we can see that this set of results is broader than even the sum of the previous two methods':



In either of our initial cases, results were missed because the existing version of Search treats all tags as unrelated pieces of information. A human can of course discern that 3D Platformer is composed of the elements 3D and Platformer. Search ought to be smart enough to recognize this sort of relationship, too.

Search shouldn’t be too smart, however, because it’s not a recommender—it should return what the user asked for; no more, no less. But before we go too deeply into our solution, let’s get a better look at the problem.

Gaps in Tagging
Some games are tagged more thoroughly than others. We have some longer-term plans to help address that, and Query Expansion is a simple first step.

For example, games tagged RTS might not always have the tags Real-Time + Strategy, and vice versa. Likewise, a game tagged Action-Adventure + JRPG might lack the tags Action, Adventure, and RPG. Unfortunately this will return Search results that vary considerably based on which particular tags the user happens to choose. (See below for details.)

Developers who don’t know about this issue might, for example, tag their game RTS and not realize that it could fail to return in a search for the simpler tag Strategy. And who could fault them?

On the flip side, developers who do know about this issue might load their game up with every possible permutation of their chief tags—indicating RTS in addition to Real-Time + Strategy, RTS, and so on. The downside to this approach is that it fills the game’s tag profile with lots of redundant tags, when we instead need more meaningful tags which help describe or surface the game to users in the Steam store.

Query Expansion fills these gaps without requiring taggers to add synonymous tags to every game on Steam, or requiring players to form complex search queries.



How It Works
Let's look more directly at what Query Expansion does, and just as importantly, what it doesn’t do, so that we can become confident in the quality of the Search Results surfaced by these changes with respect to tags.

First and foremost, we intend for our Query Expansion to err toward being cautionary. For instance, we've told it that:

Action-Adventure strictly implies Action + Adventure and
Strategy RPG strictly implies Strategy + RPG

However we've not taken a leap to suggest synonymous relationships between merely similar or corollary tags. For example:

Dark does not imply Lovecraftian
Fantasy does not imply Magic
Shooter does not imply Action and
Strategy does not imply Turn-Based

Sure, Dark and Lovecraftian often appear together in association with the same games, but this correlation is not equivalence, and therefore these two tags aren't appropriate to associate with one another when implementing Query Expansion.

With that established, we went through our entire list of tags and mapped out relationships that everyone could agree made sense. This includes tags that break down into other tags (FPSFirst Person + Shooter) as well as tags that are constructed from other tags (Strategy + RPGStrategy RPG). Most of these relationships work in both directions, but not all of them.

For instance, a game tagged Looter Shooter clearly deserves the tags Loot and Shooter. However, Looter Shooter is a specific sub-genre with its own conventions. And although it’s not Steam’s place to define those conventions, it does seem prudent to recognize that not every game tagged with Loot and Shooter is necessarily a Looter Shooter. For now, relationships between tags like this require human consideration.

Expanding Tag Queries, Step by Step
Here’s a somewhat simplified example of what goes on under the hood.

Search queries start with the user’s list of tags:
Action +
Adventure +
2D Platformer +
Puzzle

We identify complex tags and break them down into simple tags:
2D Platformer2D + Platformer

We see if any simple tags combine to form complex tags:
Action + AdventureAction Adventure
Puzzle + PlatformerPuzzle Platformer

We add these as synonyms for each of our original tags using OR:
(Action OR Action Adventure) +
(Adventure OR Action Adventure) +
(2D OR 2D Platformer) +
(Platformer OR 2D Platformer) +
(Puzzle OR Puzzle Platformer)

Next, for each tag, we look for complex tags that fully incorporate it:
Action → (Action Adventure OR Action RPG OR Action Roguelike)
Adventure → (Action Adventure)
2D → (2D Platformer OR 2D Fighter)
Platformer → (2D Platformer OR 3D Platformer OR Precision Platformer OR Puzzle Platformer)
Puzzle → (Puzzle Platformer)

We add these as synonyms for each of our original tags, using OR (provided we haven’t added them already in an earlier step:)
(Action OR Action Adventure OR Action RPG OR Action Roguelike) +
(Adventure OR Action Adventure) +
(2D OR 2D Platformer OR 2D Fighter) +
(Platformer OR 2D Platformer OR 3D Platformer OR Precision Platformer OR Puzzle Platformer) +
(Puzzle OR Puzzle Platformer)

Now some of you might be thinking, “Action RPG? 2D Fighter? I thought we were looking for Action+Adventure+2D+Platformer+Puzzle, what’s this other stuff doing in here? Surely this will pollute our Search Results!”

Good question! But don’t worry, those extra terms don’t ruin the results—quite the opposite. The OR logic makes sure the fancier tags are only there to contribute the bit that overlaps with the user’s request—the Action in Action RPG in this example. And keep in mind there are tons of genre hybrids on Steam; so the fancier terms ensure that when you ask for peanut-butter flavored snacks, we don’t forget to include peanut-butter-and-chocolate cookies (but rest assured, we won’t return any chocolate snacks that don’t also have peanut-butter).

This approach allows us to locate more titles than were served by even the sum of results when searching for 3D, Platformer, and 3D Platformer, as in our first example. Now, additional results such as Biped, are served front and center. This title has the tags 3D and Puzzle Platformer associated with it. So you see, now searches for complex tags like 3D Platformer catch titles with alternate though still relevant combinations of tags.

Applications
Query Expansion isn’t the final word in improving our tags system, but it’s a good place to start. For now we’re just leveraging Query Expansion as applied to tags in this Search experiment. We’ll be closely monitoring the results before we decide whether and how to use Query Expansion in other applications such as across more forms of metadata in Search, or in additional Browse views, Recommendations algorithms, Dynamic Collections in the Library, and other areas of Steam.

Try Searching with Expanded Queries Today
You’ll need to opt in to the Steam Labs Search experiment to see the new Search results leveraging Expanded Queries as applied to tags. You can do this by visiting Steam Labs Experiment 4.1: Search with Expanded Tags.

Steam Labs
Today's changes to Search were made as part of Steam Labs, an experimental environment where we try out potential changes and additions to Steam, and gather feedback on their usefulness.

By developing new features in Labs we're able to experiment without impacting everyone who uses and sells games on Steam. At the same time, we can try things out publicly and receive feedback early in the development process. If you would like to help us further design and refine Search or other Steam features, head over to Steam Labs and try out the experiments that catch your interest. We look forward to your feedback!





Steam Blog - AndrewL


With this post, we’re unveiling our monthly Top Release list for March. As a reminder, we showcase the top 20 titles released for the month, measured by the revenue generated during the first two weeks after release. Since free to play products don’t always generate revenue, we also list the top 5 free to play games, based on total unique players accumulated during their two week launch windows.

March continued to demonstrate some of the themes that we’re always excited to see. They are worth summarizing this month as well:
  • Games this month were developed in 14 different countries – check the entire list below for specifics.
  • 8 games either entering into or graduating from Early Access.
  • 13 games this month feature support for controllers or other input devices.

Standalone Soundtracks
We recently overhauled the way that soundtracks are delivered on Steam, making it easier for players to listen to their favorite songs while not in-game. You can read more about those changes here. With this month’s top release list, it was great to see that six of these games are taking advantage of the new soundtrack system – DJMAX RESPECT V, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Avorion, Yes, Your Grace, One Step From Eden & State of Decay 2.

Beyond checking the storepage of your favorite game for an available soundtrack, you can also browse Steam's Soundtrack Hub for a look at all of the newly released and top selling soundtracks.

Decades of Classic Franchises
March was a historic month for highly anticipated sequels. About half of the top releases this month are follow-ups to popular franchises, with some getting their start more than 20 years ago. We've come a long way from the days of playing DOOM from floppy disks or registering product keys from Half-Life boxes.

Between longtime fans rediscovering these amazing universes and new players experiencing them for the first time, we're thrilled to see these franchises continue to resonate with players all over the world: Ori and the Will of the Wisps, DJMAX RESPECT V, Borderlands 3 , Granblue Fantasy: Versus, State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition, DOOM Eternal, Panzer Corps 2, Half-Life: Alyx, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 4 & Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord.

Not to be outdone by the sequels, 11 development teams made this month’s list with their first ever release on Steam. Welcome and congrats to Crowbar Collective, Brave At Night, Boxelware, FYQD-Studio, Donkey Crew, Thomas Moon Kang, Gigantic Duck Games, Game Devs for Bernie, Pugscape & Neosonyx Co..

We hope that in years to come, these teams will be delivering sequels and follow-ups of their own.




March's Top Releases
Here's the full list of March's top releases ordered by release date (we've organized this list on a sale page too):


Black Mesa
Crowbar Collective (Worldwide)


Yes, Your Grace
Brave At Night (UK)


Avorion
Boxelware (Germany)


Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Moon Studios & Xbox Game Studios (Austria & US)


DJMAX RESPECT V
NEOWIZ (Republic of Korea)


Borderlands 3
Gearbox Software (US)


Granblue Fantasy: Versus
Cygames, Inc. & Arc System Works (Japan)


State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
Undead Labs & Xbox Game Studios (US)


AI*Shoujo/AI*少女
ILLUSION (Japan)


DOOM Eternal
id Software (US)


Panzer Corps 2
Flashback Games (Russia)


Half-Life: Alyx
Valve (US)


The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
Nihon Falcom, Engine Software & PH3
(Japan, Netherlands & Austria)


Bright Memory
FYQD-Studio (China)


Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
Codename Entertainment (Canada)


Last Oasis
Donkey Crew (Poland)


ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 4
Koei Tecmo (Japan)


One Step From Eden
Thomas Moon Kang (US)


Biped
NEXT Studios (China)


Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
TaleWorlds Entertainment (Turkey)

--

March's Top Free Releases


Bombergrounds: Battle Royale
Gigantic Duck Games (Sweden)


Walking Simulator
Pugscape (Belgium)


Rakion Chaos Force
Neosonyx Co., Ltd. (Republic of Korea)


Super Bernie World
Game Devs for Bernie (US)


Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
Codename Entertainment (Canada)

--

If you're curious about previous months, here are more Top Release lists:

Cheers!
-The Steam Team
Steam Blog - Alden
We know a lot of you (like us here at Valve) are stuck at home right now trying to work or attend school remotely. Or maybe you're just playing a bunch of great games on Steam. Whatever the case may be, we know that with so many people at home trying to get things done at the same time, it can put a stress on your home’s internet bandwidth.

With that in mind, we thought it was a good time to remind everyone of some of the features the Steam client offers relating to downloads, so that you can manage your home bandwidth and help everyone in your house handle this unique situation we all find ourselves in.

Changes to Auto-Updating to Spread Out Peak Load
For games that haven’t been played recently, Steam has already been scheduling updates for the next off-peak local time period. Beginning this week, we are now spreading these updates out over several more days. Only games played within the last 3 days will be updated immediately. As always, the game will begin updating immediately if you request to play it, and you can always initiate an update (or pause it indefinitely) through the Download Manager. We’re also looking into additional solutions to help on our side.

Options You Can Control
In addition to changes Steam is making to auto-updating, we wanted to remind you that there are also a number of options you can control. We believe that the best solution for most users is to take advantage of Steam’s existing throttling and scheduling features to set their own optimal behavior. So here are some suggestions – follow this link for more details on how-to:
  • Schedule auto-update windows! This will ensure that Steam doesn’t start updating a game while you’re in the middle of your work day.
  • If you don’t play a game in your library often, you can keep it installed but choose to no longer download automatic updates.
  • You can self-throttle your own connection to Steam. This might ease the load on your network connection, and may help ease bandwidth loads if network traffic in your area needs to be reduced.
  • Take advantage of Library Folders settings, so you can move infrequently-played games from an SSD to a storage HDD. This is usually better for you (and your bandwidth) rather than uninstalling the game and needing to re-download it later.

You can read more about these features here.

As always, let us know if you have further questions or feedback in the comments.

Sincerely,
-The Steam Team
Steam Blog - AndrewL


February may have been the shortest month of the year, but that doesn't mean a shortage of top releases on Steam.

This month's lists showcase the top titles released in February (measured by the revenue generated during the first two weeks after their launch) and the top five free to play releases (measured by unique player count). As always, we take a look at some of the trends in these charts. But as a special part of this post, we’ve also included a spotlight section with two of the teams featured this month: Flying Oaks Games (ScourgeBringer) & Ink Stains Games (Stoneshard).


A Big Month for Early Access
The first thing we noticed this month is the high volume of games using Early Access. With nearly half of the games this month graduating to full release or making their debuts, Early Access continues to be a successful option for developers and players alike. When we launched Early Access back in 2013, we hoped that the program would provide developers with an optional path to work on their game alongside data and feedback from players. It’s great to see so many studios finding success through Early Access.


11 Releases From Teams New to Steam
Meanwhile, we continue to see new dev teams scoring a spot at the top of the charts. This month an astounding 11 games are coming from teams releasing their first ever Steam product. To Comfy Company, DeGenerals, Echo Entertainment, The Elephant Crew, Mastfire Studios Pty Ltd, panstasz, Placeholder Gameworks, SouthPAW Games, Spiderling Studios, SukeraSomero, WOLCEN Studio, welcome and congrats on your success.


Developer Spotlights: Flying Oak Games & Ink Stains Games
Obviously, finding success with a first release is not something that every team achieves. For many developers, a first release can be challenging and rewarding experience, but one that doesn't lead to a spot on a monthly top release list. This month we thought it would be great to celebrate some of the teams whose first releases didn't make a top 20 list, but have found their way on to this month’s charts with a subsequent release. We asked Flying Oak Games (ScourgeBringer) and Ink Stains Games (Stoneshard) about the biggest takeaways from their first launches, how those translated to success this time around, and what they'd recommend to other developers who didn't make a top 20 list with their first launch.

Flying Oak Games
In 2016 Flying Oak Games released the twin-stick shooter, NeuroVoider, for both consoles and Steam. The team points out that not enough focus was put on the quality of that title’s PC features. So, when they set out to make this month's hit, ScourgeBringer, Flying Oak made it a goal to ensure that their PC features be fully developed.

As Thomas Altenburger from the Flying Oak team puts it, "Quality depended on properly responding to our PC players, so we put extra effort into including as many Steam features as possible: Extended settings (e.g., full control support and remapping), working toward a crash free release, and localizing the game in as many languages as possible."

The team also said they were much more aware of Steam tags this time around. Rather than waiting to see how players decided to tag the game, they put emphasis on researching and selecting appropriate Steam tags before release. By carefully researching similar games, they were able to target players who were more likely to be interested in ScourgeBringer.

"We noticed that Steam is targeting players with similar interests more efficiently than in 2016,” said Thomas. “Understand: Set your tags right! We're pleased to see that new players are already familiar with the genres."

Finally, Flying Oak emphasized the importance of their publisher, Dear Villagers, who were able to create a focused marketing campaign that targeted relevant markets by using content creators specifically tailored for them.

"It has been hard, but we're very proud of the result and more importantly,” said Thomas. “Steam players seem to acknowledge the effort!"


Ink Stains Games
When designing their latest title, Stoneshard, Ink Stains Games set out to create a product that was much bigger in scope than their first game 12 is Better Than 6. According to the team, the big difference this time around came from placing a greater focus on expanding their engagement with the community. Speaking with the team about the ways they made this happen, there was an emphasis on paying more attention to a global audience.

"From the very beginning, we chose Steam as one of our main community platforms, giving it priority over our other social networks,” said Andrey Tsypaiev from Ink Stains. “Here, we regularly published devlogs about our progress in several languages - this approach allowed us to build several regional communities around our game."

If you follow Stoneshard on Steam, you've probably seen these devlogs in the game's News Hub. Each one gives unique insights into the development path, along with sneak previews and colorful gifs showcasing upcoming features. Something that isn't always obvious to players though, is the fact that the team creates several localized versions of these devlogs. Regardless of what language a player has Steam set to, Ink Stains is able to share Stoneshard development with their entire community.

Andrey's advice to other teams, "Start working with the community as soon as possible. This strategy allows you to create the backbone of a community you will be working with later."


Thank you and congratulations to both Ink Stains Games and Flying Oak Games for sharing their experiences in creating a Top Release of February 2020.

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February's Top Releases
If you've made it this far, here's the list of February's top releases ordered by release date (we've organized this list on a sale page too):


ScourgeBringer
Flying Oak Games & E-Studio (France & Finland)


Stoneshard
Ink Stains Games (Russia)


Azur Lane Crosswave
IDEA FACTORY, COMPILE HEART & FELISTELLA (Japan)


Being a DIK - Season 1
Dr PinkCake (Sweden)


DAEMON X MACHINA
Marvelous Inc. (Japan)


Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem
WOLCEN Studio (France)


Metro Exodus
4A Games (Ukraine & Malta)


Senren*Banka
Yuzusoft (Japan)


Besiege
Spiderling Studios (UK)


Blackwake
Mastfire Studios Pty Ltd (Australia & US)


Skul: The Hero Slayer
SouthPAW Games (Republic of Korea)


Taur
Echo Entertainment (Sweden)


Death and Taxes
Placeholder Gameworks (Estonia)


Tank Mechanic Simulator
DeGenerals (Poland)


WORLD OF HORROR
panstasz (Poland)


Dungeon Defenders: Awakened
Chromatic Games (US)


Max Gentlemen Sexy Business!
The Men Who Wear Many Hats (US)


Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
CAPCOM CO., LTD. (Japan)


ONE PUNCH MAN: A HERO NOBODY KNOWS
Spike Chunsoft Co. Ltd. (Japan)


OshiRabu: Waifus Over Husbandos
SukeraSomero (Japan)

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February's Top Free Releases


Dota Underlords
Valve (US)


RISK: Global Domination
SMG Studio (Australia & US)


I Wanna Maker
The Elephant Crew (US)


Moe Era
Comfy Company (Russia)


绝望监牢 / 絶望プリズン
Studio Wasabi (Japan)

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If you're curious about previous months, here are more Top Release lists:

Cheers!
-The Steam Team
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