Earlier this month, we had reported on Valve introducing a major overhaul to the community features on Steam. The update focuses on highlighting and enabling the best user-created screenshots, videos and Workshop items for games across Steam while making it easier for the community to discuss its favourite games. Until today, the new community features were in a closed beta, but a new announcement today by Valve tells us that the beta is open for anyone to join.
"The New Steam Community is all about showing off the best content that gamers have created," says Emily Kent at Valve. "With over 89 million screenshots, videos, Steam Workshop maps, levels, mods, and items, plus news articles and product updates, the community has created an unbelievable wealth of content around their favorite games."
The Community Update has gone open beta
Some of the new features in the update include Game Hubs, Group Updates, My Content and Friend Activity, not counting other extra tweaks. Let's take a detailed look at the new features.
Game Hubs: Every game on Steam has a new Game Hub. The Hubs highlight the most popular user-created screenshots, videos and Steam Workshop items as rated by the community and combine it with related news, discussions and comments for the game all in one central location.
Group Updates: The revamped groups layout makes it easier to see what a group is really about, who’s in it and what they’ve been up to recently. Valve has added a group overview, friend showcase and more. Most significantly, each group will now have their own discussions area, enabling public and private discussions within the group. You get complete moderator control over your group forums, with the ability to create sub-forums, add moderators, delete posts etc.
My Content: The content you’ve published will also get a new treatment. Valve has put all the content you've created in one convenient place to make it easier to both show off and manage. This goes for all your friends and people you follow as well.
Friend Activity: See what your friends are up to in the new visually rich and more interactive feed where nearly everything can be rated and commented on. Share your opinion, taunt or help your friends, save the best content to your favourites and rate your friends’ content to get them to the top of the Game Hubs.
Other tweaks include things like sharing links on Steam that will automatically give the link a thumbnail.
One of the major new features that will be released later will be Steam Greenlight. Valve had announced Steam Greenlight in July. “Steam Greenlight is a new system that enlists the community's help in picking some of the next games to be released on Steam. Steam Greenlight also helps developers get feedback from potential customers and start creating an active community around their game as early in the development process as they like,” the Greelight site reads.
The problem smaller developers had with Steam was that when they attempted to get their games on Steam, they’d either get a “yes” or a “no” for an answer. No explanation was given for rejection. Greenlight aims to help the developers who submit videos, demos, screenshots etc. and let the community decide if the game is suitable for Steam. The site further states that the number of votes needed to gain full approval "is going to change during the first few days/ weeks since we don’t know what kind of traffic to expect." Steam states that part of the drive for this system is the need for customers to help prioritise which games they want to see on Steam. The site states that "therefore, the specific number of votes doesn’t matter as much as relative interest in a game compared with other games in Steam Greenlight."
“We’re going to be reaching out to developers as we see their games getting traction regardless of whether they have achieved a specific number of votes or are sitting 1st or 2nd place at any given time. We are most interested in finding the games that people want, not requiring them to always hit a specific number of votes,” the site reads.