Steam Labs Scans Your Playtime and Tells You What To Buy

Valve unveils Steam Labs, which includes three AI tool functions: micro trailers, an interactive recommender, and an automated daily half-hour show.

Valve is rolling out a brand new test service called Steam Labs which, among other functions, uses AI tools to scan users’ playtime and recommends what to buy next. According to the official page, the service is dedicated to “experiments around discoverability, video, machine learning, and more.” Currently Steam Labs has three active experiments: micro trailers, an interactive recommender, and an automated daily half-hour show.

Micro trailers allow Steam to present you with selections of six-second trailers organized by genre, curator selections, or other categories. If your interest is peaked on a particular title, you click on it to visit its store page. This feature was most likely inspired by and is now officially collaborating with the Steam Trailers in 6s account on Twitter.

The automated show is assembled from similarly brief clips of games, but with multiple micro trailers for each game assembled in a quad display set to music. Originally the goal was for Steam to automatically generate voice-over descriptions from games’ store pages but it seems Valve ran into some hiccups, as admitted by the company on the new feature’s Steam page:

In text-to-speech tests, THE. COMPUTER. GENERATED. VOICE. WE. USED. SOUNDED. A. LITTLE. STILTED, so we tabled that for a bit. We’re working on that, though.

Finally there’s the interactive recommender. It’s a “neural-network model that is trained to recommend games based on a user’s playtime history, along with other salient data” which is based on “many millions of Steam users and many billions of play sessions.” As a bonus, users can adjust sliders so that I could see progressively more or less niche and newer or older games. In addition, you can restrict games by tags.

This services seems to be a direct result of the criticism Steam faced after its annual Summer Sale failed to properly recommend new games to its userbase. Valve also recently added a LGBTQ+ tag and hub page to Steam after extensive criticism and discussions on its official forum pages.

Alpha Protocol, a title on Steam, has also recently made the news as it was suddenly pulled from the Steam Store. The reason was eventually revealed to be due to expired music rights.

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