Launching today with three experiments.
Steam Labs

Valve has just launched a new area on Steam where users can test out new, experimental features for Steam. They're calling this area the Steam Labs and it is here where users will be able to test out potential new Steam features. These tests may one day become commonplace on Steam, but for now they are mere experiments ripe for testing and potential changes based on user feedback.

If you ever used Gmail, you may already know what to expect from these Labs experiments. That is to say, there is no guarantee that they will be fully added to Steam at any point. They could also add new experiments, pull experiments, or outright modify experiments at any time. Valve says that they "create dozens of experiments around discoverability, video, machine learning, and more" every year. They're making some of these experiments available to the public for the first time with Steam Labs.

Right now, there are three different active experiments: Micro Trailers, Interactive Recommender, and Automatic Show.

So far, in the brief time that I have spent with these current experiments, the standout tests are Micro Trailers and Interactive Recommender. Micro Trailers allows you to view segments of a trailer, six seconds worth, when you over over an image for a game. You probably saw this preview feature used on other sites that play videos.

Interactive Recommender provides you with some sliders to allow the user to fine tune the recommendations that Steam kind of already makes for you automatically. It allows you to have more niche games recommended, the most popular games, or anywhere in between. Valve put up a lengthy blog about the details on this one. It seems like out of all of their new experiments, this one may stick around for a while.

I can't say that I'm a big fan of the Automatic Show feature. I like the idea, in theory, but a 30 minute show every day is just far too much. Hell, I didn't even want to sit through and watch today's first video. This is something that needs to be bite sized, not TV show length. This is, of course, just my opinion. Others may like the full 30 minute show and I can see how some people may just have it play on another monitor while working on their primary monitor.

Behind the scenes at Steam, we create many experimental features with codenames like The Peabody Recommender and Organize Your Steam Library Using Morse Code. For the first time, we're giving these works-in-progress a home called Steam Labs, where you can interact with them, tell us whether you think they're worth pursuing further, and if so, share your thoughts on how they should evolve.

We've selected three initial experiments to share as we launch the Labs:

Micro Trailers are lovingly-generated six-second game trailers, arranged on a page so you can digest them all at a glance. Check out our new micro trailer collections for adventure games, RPGs, builders, and more.

The Interactive Recommender looks at your top-played games and uses machine learning to recommend other titles it thinks you'll love. Find old classics by directing it toward popular titles released in the past ten years, or discover that diamond-in-the-rough by zeroing in on niche games launched in the past six months.

The Automated Show is a half-hour video featuring the latest Steam launches. Leave it on a second monitor while you work, or glue your eyeballs to it and let hundreds of games wash over you.

So pop on your lab coat, try the experiments, and then share your feedback to help shape the future of Steam.

To follow future news and additions to Steam Labs, join the Steam Labs Community Group, where we'll share announcements and updates.