Store 3.0 beta impressions
The new Store is now live and in testing. The changes are mostly cosmetic, and the main thrust of the new design is toward handling more information in an only slightly bigger space. There is now a sidebar on each page displaying metadata: the name, developer, languages, and even details like whether or not Friends is supported or whether the game includes HDR. Media files have thumbnail video streams, a clever addition but one that has the perhaps intentional effect of reducing the desire to invest time into downloading the full-resolution version. There are also links to related resources like demos and trailers for each entry.
Which is all useful enough. But there is one part of the new Steam Store that makes it truly worthy of its 3.0 label: it is also the new Steam website.
The first clue is the splash page itself, which has been expanded to include the Steam news feed, the old Store navigation menu and a list of recent releases, as well as the introductory blurb and a direct link through to the ‘Get Steam Now’ download page.
Visit the download page for our second proof: it has been subsumed into both the new Store design and the soon-to-be-www
storefront subdomain. Refer to the header bar and you will find that the News, Forums and Stats pages have undergone a similar process, although Stats (formerly Status, implying a unified entry point for network status and game statistics) still redirects to the current page.
The real clue, however, is a small detail that I for one didn’t pick up for some time. The old Store link, Games, is no longer present in the list, and ‘Home’ now brings you back to the root
storefront page. Or, as we should probably get used to calling it, Steam portal.
The next question is whether or not we’ll be seeing this new portal expanding, as such things tend to do. There doesn’t seem to be much room for such activity here without pushing even more information down and off a visitor’s initial view; for now we can only assume that Steam’s storefront offerings aren’t going to diversify too much in the foreseeable future.