Valve is testing a more human approach to Steam tag searches

The company's hope is to make tags more logical.

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Jon Fingas / Engadget

We've all been there at one point: you'll try to find a specific app or game on a digital marketplace, and for whatever reason, the search feature doesn't seem to bring up what you want to download. Whether it's the App Store or Steam, all digital distribution platforms can sometimes make it challenging to find the exact product you're searching for in a given situation. With its latest Steam Labs experiment, Valve is trying to make search work better by making tags smarter

As Valve points out, one issue with Steam currently is that it doesn't treat tags like a human being would. Say you want to find a new real-time strategy game to play. In that situation, you may type in "RTS,” thinking that the platform will also pull up games tagged with terms like real-time and strategy. That's not what happens with the current system. Instead, it treats all tags as separate pieces of information, and so you'll sometimes get completely different results if you search for a game using different but related terms.

With its new tagging system, Steam will think about related tags that specific search terms imply. In effect, you won't have to be so accurate or specific to find a game. More broadly, Valve says the new system is the first step toward addressing the issue of some developers tagging their games more thoroughly than their others. 

Valve adds that the goal of the new system is not to make the search feature so smart it starts recommending you games -- that's what the company designed features like curator recommendations to do. Instead, the goal is to help you find exactly what you want. For now, Valve says it plans to collect data on the feature before it expands the technology behind its new tags to other parts of Steam.  

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