Two Steam Labs tests have concluded their beta after several months and are now live on Valve's digital distribution service: Steam Categories and the Steam Playtest feature are here.
Steam Labs is Valve's program for testing out new features for its digital distribution service. There are certainly some areas where Steam can improve and it looks like Valve isn't afraid to experiment; it's spent the last few years working on improvements with an opt-in system that allows customers to test out these new features in advance. Now, two of these features have completed testing and are available for everyone to use.
What Are Steam Categories?
Steam Categories were first introduced with Steam Labs Experiment 010 late last year. There are a lot of games on Steam (and more releasing every day), and this new Categories feature should make it easier than ever to find what you're looking for.
Simply clicking on the new Categories tab at the top of the page will reveal a boatload of new options split into Genres, Themes, Player Support, and Special Sections. There's even something for fans of lewd games: a special "Adult Only" Theme section [NSFW] has all of the platform's sexy games listed in one convenient place. (It bears mentioning that the Adult Only section is Not Safe For Work and you can't even view it unless you're logged into Steam without any parental controls enabled.)
Aside from being able to search these on your own, the blog post announcing the launch also notes that these are shareable links. That means that you could hop onto Discord with a couple of friends, pass around the link to, say, Farming & Crafting Sims, and try to find something to play that you and your friends will love.
What is the Steam Playtest Feature?
Steam Categories aren't the only new addition today — the Steam Playtest feature has also gone live. This feature was also the product of one of Valve's many beta tests of new features.
Unlike Categories, the Steam Playtest feature depends on developers to set things up. Essentially, a developer can allow developers to invite players to playtest games. It has some neat capabilities, too; for example, a developer could restrict a playtest to a particular country to load test servers in that region or to get feedback on an upcoming translation.
Feedback for playtests is covered, too — the news post announcing this new feature mentions that playtests will have their own dedicated community hub, making it the perfect place for players to provide feedback to developers on whatever it is they're testing. You can take advantage of both of these features right now on Steam.
What do you think of Steam Categories? Do you think developers will take advantage of the new Steam Playtest feature? Let us know in the comments below!