Big changes are coming to Steam's Curator programme later this year, Valve has announced.
Steam's Curator initiative first launched three years ago, and offers a way for Steam users - be they critics, streamers, content creators, or enthusiastic fans - to compile a list of recommended games for others to see.
The idea is that anyone can follow a trusted curator, making it easy to stay abreast of quality titles through the recommendations of people with similar tastes. It's essentially Valve's way of adding a human element to the store, highlighting interesting games amongst Steam's endless sprawl more meaningfully than an algorithm might be able to.
As of now, however, Steam's curation features are fairly limited. Valve's incoming update will introduce new systems that, it says, will directly benefit curators, their followers, and even game developers.
Curation "really only works if players find value from following some Curators", says Valve, "So we're adding to the kinds of content that Curators are able to create, and increasing the places within Steam where that content can be seen."
To that end, Steam's Curator recommendations - which currently appear on the Steam home page and your own home page if you're following someone - will soon show up at the top of tag and genre pages. "If you are browsing RPG games, you'll see RPG games featured from Curators you follow," explains Valve by way of example.
Additionally, Valve will introduce new ways to easily discover relevant new curators; Steam's recommendation algorithms will be tweaked to suggest curators if their recommendations appear to match the games that you regularly play.
As for curators, "One of the pieces of feedback we received", says Valve, "was that they felt it needed to be more rewarding and meaningful for a Curator to spend the time it takes to build and maintain their curation." As such, curators will soon be granted new ways to measure the impact of their efforts, to display their content from other channels, and to more easily interact with developers.
The new update will, for instance, enable curators to embed videos within their reviews. "If you're a Curator who's already doing work to create content elsewhere, we want you to be able to use that work in your Steam curation," says Valve. It will also be possible for Curators to group their reviewed games into lists of similar titles - "Best couch co-op games" and "Games with amazing Workshop support" are two examples given - to make it easier for followers to find similar recommendations from a single source.
Curators will also soon be able to customise and brand their home on Steam, and view charts showing how their reviews impact their followers' behaviour in the Steam store.
Finally, Valve is introducing a new system called Curator Connect that's designed to offer a more effective, practical line of communication between curators and developers.
"We've heard from many developers that they need a way of getting their game in front of Curators that have the right audience for that game," says Valve, "We've also heard from Curators that it can be a challenge to reach out to developers, who are often swamped with requests that they can't easily filter through".
Initially, developers will be able search Curator listings by name, OS, language, or tags, and see a snapshot of each curator - including their follower counts and any linked social media "which can help verify that the Curator is truly who they claim to be." Curators, meanwhile, can choose to accept or decline any developer requests that they receive. Accepted games will immediately be added to a curator's Steam library to play and review.
Before Steam's new Curator tools launch, Valve will run a closed beta to test them "with a few dozen Steam Curators of different sizes, niches, and languages". The aim is to run the beta for at least a few weeks before the tools go live a little later this year.
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