Valve’s Steam Labs initiative gives the company a way to publicly test and toy with features, tools, and potential changes to existing systems, and that project is to thank for a handful of new features now headed to Steam’s search tool.
The Steam team talked about how they honed in on those changes through Steam Labs in a recent blog post, sharing how new additions like price filters, enhanced tag searching, new preferences for hiding search results, and more were fine-tuned through the Labs process.
“By developing new features in Labs we're able to experiment more, without impacting everyone who uses Steam. This means we can try things which might not work out, and can receive user feedback much earlier in the development process,” explains the team. “Not everyone uses Steam the same way, so the feedback we receive in Steam Labs helps us serve a wider audience.”
“Our Search experiment started as an exploration of new ranking algorithms, but based upon user feedback it expanded to include the many quality of life improvements in today's release. While large features often get the most attention, smaller changes are essential for a smoother user experience.”
Steam Labs has led to the creation of a fair amount of interesting new potential features, including just recently an experiment geared at helping players chew through their existing library based on past play history and earlier tools like the machine learning powered Interactive Recommender tool.