Valve emailed in today to let us know about the new Steam Labs, a dedicated section on Steam for Valve to show off some experiments they're doing and for you to test and break them.
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.
The first three experiments Valve are showing off to the public are up now, which are:
- Micro Trailers - A six second trailer for each game
- Interactive Recommender - A "machine learning" recommendation system to suggest games you might like
- Automatic Show - A daily auto-generated video to show off popular games
All interesting ideas and I do appreciate Valve being a lot more open in the past year or two. This new recommendation stuff is interesting, since the last time they tweaked their algorithm some indie developers were hit hard by it (I see complaints on Twitter daily), so this time they're doing it entirely separate to get it right and co-exist with existing features.
Valve did say this new recommendation system cannot suggest new games that don't have players yet, since there's no data on it. However, once it has a few days of data it can. This time around, the recommendation system is based on what you play and seem to enjoy, rather than what developers can do on Steam like tags, reviews and so on.
Do let us know what you think in the comments.