The Steam Review

Comment and discussion on Valve Software’s digital communications platform.

Store 3.0 beta impressions

Expanded role and deeper metadata :: August 3rd, 2006 :: Steam updates :: 10 Responses

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.

Steam Store 3.0 beta
The new banners rotate with each refresh, evenly distributing visitors.

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.


10 Responses to this post:

  1. DiSTuRbEd Says:

    Maybe the whole ironic part of this move, we may get vb3 for the forums, to keep up with the whole 3.0 theme. πŸ˜‰

    I really like the new website theme, old one was getting outdated and fast.

  2. wizpig64 Says:

    Wouldn’t “Steam portal” get awfully confusing?

  3. Tom Edwards Says:

    Why should it?

  4. Film11 Says:

    Could this mean a change from the old “dark green” theme across the whole site towards a darker theme? I personally like the change, and I think many others will too, if it goes ahead.

  5. wizpig64 Says:

    Well, for instance: To get the new Portal game you have to go through the Steam portal. Meh, I dunno.

  6. Zips Says:

    wizpig64 said:

    Well, for instance: To get the new Portal game you have to go through the Steam portal. Meh, I dunno.

    It’s an easy way to get some quirky marketing going on! Buy Portal through the Steam Portal, today! Then throw in a few more “Portals” for good measure at the end.

  7. Alex Says:

    Anyway, I like the new storefront look. It looks like it carries more information in a more readable layout. Sticking the games on the left without a margin is a cool idea since they’re the stars of the show.

    My Store window seems to default to a narrow window, which doesn’t really fit the layout. I guess that’s an issues with Steam rather than the website that it uses, though. πŸ˜›

  8. Bob Says:

    Ugh, not convinced. It’s clean and nice and everything – it’s all technically very competent. But still … it’s one step closer to a sprawling mess like Fileplanet. Too many things fighting for my attention.

    Also, the pictures need their bevels/rounded corners back.

  9. Tom Edwards Says:

    Well spotted. There’s “STEAM NEWS”, “VALVE NEWS”, “PUBLISHER NAME NEWS”, and “ATARI NEWS”. Interesting how they sort one of the feeds by publisher – more contracts on the way?

  10. Maverick Says:

    Gives all the necessary information in an organized manner, doesn’t feel cluttered to me. Well done Valve.