Back when the feature first launched, Steam curation was supposed to be a guiding light through winding caverns of crap. Flash forward a few years, though, and curators are less relevant than ever. With a new update, Valve hopes to change that.
Sometime in the next few weeks, Valve is planning to overhaul Steam curator functionality for curators, regular Steam users, and developers.
First and foremost, that means making curation more flexible. Soon, curators will be able to embed videos (madness! it will never catch on), make lists of games they have reviewed organised by theme ("top ten anime porn games" or what have you), and customise their pages.
Curators are also getting a rather interesting bit of functionality that seems kinda at-odds with the idea of being an impartial third party.
"We all know that graphs solve everything, so yes, we're adding more of them," wrote Valve in a blog post. "In particular, Curators will be able to see how their reviews impacted their follower's behaviour in the Steam store."
That seems extremely open to abuse, given that curators are unregulated, and influential ones could — knowledge of exactly what their followers are doing in hand — easily cut deals with game makers to push traffic in their page's direction. I guess we'll see!
If you're a regular Steam user, you'll soon see curator recommendations appearing in more places. Right now they have got their own dedicated widget on the front page, but before long they will also appear at the top of tag and genre pages.
Valve is also improving its "recommended curators" system (FINALLY) in hopes that players will actually be able to find new curators worth following. Previously, if you were a top curator from the system's early days, you were set.
If not, you had virtually no chance of anybody finding your curation page and, therefore, no reason to consistently curate games.
Lastly, for developers, Valve is implementing a system called Curator Connect that will allow them to search for curators and give them Steam keys without having to go outside Steam and risk getting scammed by impersonators.
These changes seem sensible (except, maybe, for the graph one, which seems awfully questionable), but it remains to be seen whether or not people will actually rely on Steam curators and seek out new ones. The feature has languished for so long that I don't imagine people are just gonna flock back to it now that it's a little different.