Valve "Steam Labs" To Open Experimental Features To Public Testing

Ceria Alfonso
Julio 12, 2019

For the most part, Valve tends to be very, very secretive when it comes to developing projects.

The final experiment Valve is testing out is called "Automatic Show", which the company jokingly compares to "one of those cable shopping channels without the super-absorbent chamois cloths". Today, that trend continues with the launch of Steam Labs, a place where Steam users can see and test experimental features.

The Steam Labs page shows off a variety of ways these micro trailers could be presented, with larger and smaller thumbnails, whole rows that play at once, and some especially nice 2x2 grids of four clips from the same game playing at once. Each one is created to provide a different service and all need to be looked at as works-in-progress.

If Automatic Show proves successful, Valve says it might add multiple types of channels to cover different types of games: indie titles, hidden gems, and more. In another section simply scrolling down will start the trailers going.

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Interactive Recommender doesn't require developer optimization. It's a "neural-network model that is trained to recommend games based on a user's playtime history, along with other salient data" based on "many millions of Steam users and many billions of play sessions".

All the features are available to test out starting today and, if all goes well, could potentially become part of the main Steam app sometime down the road. But it's not just an automated list of games; while it initially crunches numbers by chewing on your most-played games, you're also able to tell it what kinds of games you want to see.

There's a slider to weigh recommendations by popularity, and another slider that works on age, going from released in the last six months up to ten years. It's not really enough to get a good sense of these games, in most cases, but it is probably enough to help you decide if you'd like to know more. The goal, originally, was for Steam to automatically generate voice-over descriptions from games' store pages, too, but then Valve remembered that robots are weird.

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