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Steam Labs Launches As A Testbed For New Steam Features

Steam already has a boatload of features — some might argue too many features — but it seems Valve isn't done experimenting with new ones just yet.

GamesIndustry.biz reports that Valve is adding an entirely new section to Steam in order to test these features with the public. This section, called Steam Labs, currently has three such experiments available: one called Micro Trailers; another called Interactive Recommender; and a last called Automatic Show. And they're ready to check out right now.


Micro Trailers is fairly true to its name. It offers up a six-second trailer for every game on Steam, giving store browsers a micro-scoop of what a game might have to offer. Micro Trailers can apparently be grouped, as well, so if you want to search for a new game in a certain category or genre, you can queue up a line of trailers and try to pick out something that appeals to you.

Interactive Recommender is Valve's attempt at using machine learning to recommend games. The feature takes a look at how much time you've put into certain games in your library and, from there, tries to determine what other games might interest you. This will be an interesting one to watch; if Valve can nail down your tastes and get you spending more money on games, look out.


Finally, there's Automatic Show. The concept behind this feature isn't far off from Micro Trailers, except it aims to put together a half-hour show based on what's new on Steam, or which games are currently most popular. And get this: Valve apparently has its eyes on making it a true TV-style show that even features voice-over work. The being providing the voice will be a computer, of course, but Valve admitted that "THE. COMPUTER. GENERATED. VOICE. WE. USED. SOUNDED. A. LITTLE. STILTED, so we tabled that for a bit. We're working on that, though."

The purpose of Steam Labs seems to be all about seeing which new features click with the Steam community, and which ones can ultimately get Steam customers buying more games. We'll have to wait and see how the current test features fare once they get more eyes on them.

Steam Labs is live right now on the Steam website.