Another Steam Labs test is rolled out to all.
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A new way to browse Steam has been pushed out to all users today. This new feature has spent the past four months cooking in the Steam Labs oven. Valve says that this new way to browse adds in "new points of entry for New & Noteworthy titles, plus Categories featuring popular Sub-Genres, Themes, and various forms of Player Support." Their use of capital letters is intriguing.

The New & Noteworthy section provides access to current specials, recent updates, and upcoming titles headed to Steam.

Categories seems to take a deeper dive into the idea of "Genres" on Steam. These offer up more nuanced results like seeing the "JRPG" category under the "Role-Playing" genre.

Other new ideas for this whole browsing update for Steam include the idea of new entry points and new browse views. Those are detailed below or on the latest Steam blog.

New Entry Points: Genres, Themes, and Player Modes
Our new navigational entry points are modeled after the three chief ways players tend to browse Steam—by genre, by theme, and by player modes. Each of these motivations broadly answers a different question:

Genres “What kind of game is this? What is it like to play?”
Real-Time Strategy, Adventure RPG, Farming Sim, Metroidvania, etc.

Themes “What is the game about?”
Science Fiction, Survival, Mystery, etc.

Player Modes “Who can I play the game with?”
Single player, Multiplayer, MMO, Co-op, etc.

These player motivations can be organized and expressed using Steam tags and metadata. Categories grouped under the Genres and Themes entry points are defined by tags, whereas categories grouped under Player Modes are defined by additional metadata provided by the developer.

We arrived at these three top-level categories through a mix of formal research, intuition, and beta feedback. There’s also strong precedent for this scheme on Steam itself in the form of Steam Curators. We noticed many curators are building lists of specific types of games, almost all of which fall under one of the above three patterns: Gameplay and genre-based lists like City Builders, theme-based lists like Games with Dogs, or player mode-based lists like Games to Play with Your Significant Other.

New Browse Views
Among these three entry points we've surfaced 48 genre categories, 8 theme categories, and 7 player mode categories, for a total of 63 new categories derived from common patterns shared across the catalog of games and players' browsing behavior. Clicking on any of these will take you to a dedicated content hub, a landing page dedicated to that kind of game. Find your own favorites to keep track of like New & Trending Strategy Card & Board Games, Top-Selling Singleplayer Adventure Role-Playing Games, the Top-Played Story-Rich Sci-Fi & Cyberpunk Games, or your own favorite niche of Steam.

Each of these destinations has its own URL, so you can bookmark them or share them with friends. Each features a carousel highlighting featured games, top sellers, and specials, as well as five specific tabs listing
  • New & Trending
  • Top Sellers
  • What’s Being Played
  • Top Rated
  • Upcoming
Players can narrow by popular tags within these hubs as well. The left column of tags surfaces popular genre and sub-genre tags common to this category, and the right column surfaces other types of popular tags (such as mechanics, visuals, themes, and player modes).

Clicking on any of these will take you to a sub-view of the content hub. In the illustration above, we’re viewing Building & Automation Sims, but now we’re viewing only those which also include the Space Sim tag. Each of these sub-views gets its own unique URL too.

Viewers can return to the parent category any time by toggling the filtering tag previously clicked, or by clicking another to display a different sub-view of the category.