Will the Steam Discovery Update 2.0 be good for you?
Just by quickly checking the top section “Featured & Recommended” I discovered 3 interesting games and not new ones. One was released back in March and another one in 2014. I doubt I would have ever heard about these otherwise since they seem to fall in the same category as March of the Living (doing okay but not major hits so they don’t receive much exposure on Steam or from the press).
At first sight the new discovery update seems promising. Let’s dig deeper.
Featured & Recommended
It’s a mix of these big titles everyone already knows about (so not that helpful but seeing a bunch of big AAA titles there makes sense I guess) and games that fit better what you might like. The balance between these two types seems good as right now I see 3 AAA games vs 9 indie games that fit better my taste. The indie titles are still fairly big hits (Gone Home, Dear Esther) but like I said above there are also lesser known games appearing there and not necessarily recent ones.
This might help to further the life of indie games just doing okay as this big spot wasn’t quite accessible before and it’s the best exposure you can get. For example I can hope that two years from now that March of the Living might still show up there from time to time to some people.
Best of all, you can mark some games as games you are not interested in. After a couple of refresh some truck simulator game showed up there so I mark this as “Not interested” and so far I haven’t seen any other driving simulator game. There’s no point ever showing me these games as I’ll never buy them. I’m just not part of the crowd interested by these.
Really big amazing and… curated spot… Most of us will never see our games there. It probably requires a publisher able to speak to Valve or that you are one of the few having a relationship with a Valve employee (pre-Greenlight era dev) or you already released a hit so being featured there won’t make the different between you having to find a day job or not.
Truth is we don’t really know how to get in there and I wouldn’t call the upgrade this section received (it was there before but smaller) an upgrade to “discovery”. As a modest indie dev having released a moderate success this section does nothing to help people to notice my game. Well, unless for some unexplained reason someone decides to put March of the Living there… Bottom line should be to not expect anything from this section as a dev (unless you fit the cases I listed above).
Trending among friends
I’m having difficulties analyzing what kind of effect this spot might have as I have only 2 friends on Steam and don’t really care about the whole community aspect as a player. As someone with only 2 friends on Steam, right now I see 1 well-known game and 3 games I never heard about. So in my case I do get to discover new games but I suspect that if you have many friends that you might end up seeing a clone of the top sellers list in that section.
But like I said, I don’t care about having friends on Steam as a player so I don’t have much data here.
Your discovery queue
I’m really not convinced this section is doing much good. When it first appeared I sure browsed it quite a bit as it was a curiosity but now it’s a bit like Greenlight, I don’t care about it. It’s not a way I enjoy to discover new games.
The 3 choices offered don’t quite do what I’d like them to do. The “Not interested” button is great as I can tell Steam that I don’t care about sports or driving games. What I’d also like to tell Steam though is “I don’t want this particular game but this is still a genre that interest me”. If I don’t want to follow or add to my wishlist a game it appears like it’s not a genre I like so I’d like a 4th option to make sure Steam understand that I still want to know about this type of games.
This section is a weak one in my opinion. The “Specials” list just shows about 30 pages of small icons so it’s just to say that you can actually see all games currently discounted. I doubt anyone will really take time to browse this list.
The “Free Games” list might be a curiosity to check from time to time but nothing too exciting here. I still think it’s nice they give some exposure to free games on a store (and it’s not just F2P MMOs).
The “By User Tags” page is a mess right now. The first thing to fix would be to at least order tags in alphabetical order. If I want to filter by the tag “Rogue-Like” I have to do Ctrl-F first and type rogue-like to see where the tag is…
The “New Releases” page is really neat and it’s a bit sad it’s “hidden” behind an ordinary looking button that you have to scroll to see. This page shows the typical new release stuff but also recommendations based on other games you’re playing. This is really big in my opinion and I don’t know why not more emphasis is put to get players to check this page. If there’s something I’d like to know it’s what other games similar to those I already enjoy were released recently. As a dev it’s really neat too as you have a better shot to reach people who might enjoy your game. It’s not helpful to show your game to 100,000 persons not interested by the genre of your game.
Well if you can’t get the press or youtubers to review your game then you’ll be left with giving away Steam keys for free so one of the other curators list your game…
The biggest curators are press and youtubers so probably few of us will see their games listed there. Well it’s not true. Curators with 200-1000 followers might list your game but the impact will be very limited.
Everything else below
At this point I feel like many people have stopped scrolling. The “Under $10″ section might occasionally give some exposure to your game but then how many games (including discounts) are below $10? Right… So don’t get your hopes up with this section.