Steam tweaks recommended games to de-emphasize popular titles

Discovery on Steam is something that has always been difficult to perfect, due in part to the sheer number of games on the service. Steam has attempted to improve the discovery system over the years, and while some aspects have gotten better, sometimes people still encounter recommendations that don't make much sense. Today, Valve issued an update to Steam Discovery, and the changes it's making could be pretty big.

In an announcement posted to the Steam Community, Valve writes that its new update to the Steam Store "features several algorithmic changes and bug fixes in an effort to be more precise and more diverse in how Steam presents tags in the Recommendation Feed, as well as the 'More Like This' and the 'Recommended for You' sections of the store." If you've ever been left bewildered by some of the personalized recommendations Steam was making, then you'll definitely be interested in this update.

Specifically, Valve says that it received complaints from users who claimed they weren't seeing a large enough variety of games in either the recommendation feed or their "More Like This" suggestions and that the "Recommended for You" section was often "too biased towards only the most popular games and didn't feel very personalized."

After receiving that feedback, Valve said that it went on a bug hunt and found some that were responsible for putting too much emphasis on highly-rated games. The company quashed those bugs and also expanded the timescale it uses to determine a game's popularity, and then it got to work experimenting by rolling out these changes to 5% of customers.

In those experiments, it found that customers who were shown the new "Recommended for You" section – which de-emphasized popular games – were more likely to actually click on the games they saw there, with a 75% increase in the number of games visited through the section and a 48% increase in the average number of visits per game.

Meanwhile, areas of the store that depend on tags "saw increases in purchase and wishlisting across a broader set of games." So, not only do these changes sound good for gamers who would like to receive more varied recommendations, but it could also be a good move for developers as well. Unsurprisingly, Valve now says it's rolling these changes out to everyone, so keep an eye out for these revamped recommendations on the Steam store.