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Valve recently posted an analysis of the latest major update to Steam, which introduced the Discovery Queue and Steam Curators. Valve gave permission for the information within to be shared with the public, and the entirety of the post was copied to Reddit shortly after.

The Steam Discovery Update released in September of last year and Valve has been hard at work analyzing what parts of the update work, which parts need improvement, and what needs to be fixed to help customers find new and interesting games more easily.

Possibly the largest (and certainly the easiest to notice) change is the Discovery Queue. This is a list that is generated each day for every Steam user that shows them new releases, popular and highly-reviewed titles, in addition to personal recommendations.

The numbers suggest that the Discovery Queue is a huge success – all product pages across the Steam platform saw a 30% increase in page views, and 75% of that increase can be attributed directly to the Discovery Queue. This queue is now responsible for 16% of all page views across Steam.

Steam Wishlist Chart

Steam Wishlisting has also seen a significant increase.

Steam Tags, a categorization system that was used before the Discovery Update, has also seen a large increase. Valve states that this increase is “threefold,” and almost 7% of product page traffic is now through Steam Tags.

One area that needs work (and one that is likely to see changes in the near future) is the Steam Curators section. 1.3 million Steam users follow at least one curator, but the traffic generated from curator suggestions is not meeting expectations.

Unfortunately, the day to day interactions are not as high as we’d like, and we know we need to make some changes to better expose curators.

The true value of the curator system is difficult to analyze, however. While page views may not be highly influenced by this system, it is possible that purchases are affected by having curator quotes directly on the store pages – Valve believes that the curator system has potential for improving the ability of customers to discover new and interesting games.

The Steam Discovery Update has had an impact on even the smallest developers. Valve looked into the sales increase of smaller titles by analyzing sales outside of the top 500 sellers. The results show that these smaller titles have seen an 18% increase in total revenue, with daily earnings per program increasing by 5%.

What are your thoughts on Steam’s update? What changes would you like to see to the Steam Curator system? What else could Valve do to make finding new, great games even easier?

Clint Smith

I'm an ex-carnie who has been gaming and writing since I was a kid. Lately you can find me over-thinking in RPGs or failing my way through a plethora of indie games.

  • Doc Hammer

    After accessing it for the first time, I actually had trouble locating curators again at all. Increased visibility would help, but probably at the cost of annoying users even more than the redesign has done already.

  • Kyle Francoeur

    Curators actually show up on the front page if you have them, and you can access them from the Store dropdown box. I do think they could be moved to above the Queue buttons though.

  • under_score

    I think curators would work a lot better if it limited how many games they could recommend at any particular time and allowed them some kind of theme customization. It might motivate curators to engage with the system more and use it to highlight games that fit their particular brand or have some current relevance.

  • Doc Hammer

    Yeah, the whole menu can be freely adjusted. My point is they aren’t nearly as visible the other features measured. So when I said I had trouble locating them again, I meant that day.

    Also, the most visible curator listings not on their direct page are if you happen to browse a title they recommend. The way I see it is it’s very similar to the back of the box endorsement from various review magazines on a physical game; maybe we should look at it by that metric. More than once seeing TotalBiscuit, for example, endorse a title I was interested in directly lead to a purchase without any real way for that to be measured because I didn’t arrive on the game’s store page from his curator page.

    Long and short of it: the curator concept is good, but needs to be revamped.