Steam recently touted that it has over 1,200 games in its catalogue, but how do you find new games and how do you know if a game is any good? Well, Valve have finally added a feature I’ve been screaming from the rooftops for: recommendations and reviews.
Since Steam’s 2010 refresh, each game has had a ‘recommended’ section at the bottom. Originally, it was populated with similar games, but now it’s a bit more personalised for each user. It builds up the recommendations based off games you own, games you’ve got on a wishlist, and games your friends play. It’s pretty similar to the way Amazon works (it’ll also list the games you’ve looked at recently)
It’s not too bad; mostly suggesting DLC, games in the same series, or of similar genres. And it’ll also tell you of games in your wishlist that are on sale. Another inclusion is a list of games recommended by friends, with simple reviews. It’s easy enough to recommend and write a review; just right-click any Steam game in your library, select “Recommend to friends…” and type away. I like that it keeps it to friends-only, since for the most part they’re who I go to for reviews anyway. Reading one from Joe Bloggs, who I have no idea on games tastes, won’t help me. For people who want a good idea on a game from strangers the Steam forums are always there. They can provide insight on bugs and issues too.
There’s no 5-star rating like PSN or XBL, which is probably Valve just playing it safe. While there are some bad eggs on the Steam store, I doubt they want to have it showing up next to each game if it’s only getting 1-star scores. Though it would certainly help you steer clear of certain games that may look appealing, or are at an appealing price, but wouldn’t even be worth it if they were free.
This is a great feature, and with a bit of fine-tuning can become pretty useful. At the moment, the recommendations only suggest 12 at a time, and for me it’s mostly DLC. Expand the amount it will suggest, as well as maybe keeping things like DLC separate would be nice. It would be nice to see an in-line ‘Recommended for you’ banner on games when searching through the catalogue or on the Spotlight game. It does show on each game page if a friend has recommended it, but having it show up in the lists would be quicker and more at-a-glance. It would also be nice if you could add recommendations for games you own outside of Steam, but features in their catalogue. For example it recommends I pick up Fallout 3, which I actually do own. But getting Steam to do much more than launch a non-Steam game is wishful thinking.
Head over to the store and see what games it suggests you pick up, and recommend a few yourself.