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August 15, 2020
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The latest Steam Labs experiment improves tag-based searches

The latest Steam Labs experiment improves tag-based searches

April 23, 2020 | By Chris Kerr

The Steam Labs team have rolled out another experiment called Query Expansion designed to improve the marketplace's search feature.

The work-in-progress feature will introduce smarter tag-based searches by adding a dollop of logic into the mix. 

"[We've improved] Steam Search by treating tags more like a human would," reads an explainer on the Steam Community website. "Take the three tags RTS, Real-Time, and Strategy, for instance If a game is tagged RTS but not Real-Time and Strategy, a search for Real-Time + Strategy won’t find that game using Steam's existing Search tech. Query Expansion fixes that."

Query Expansion should also make the tag system more accessible to developers by automatically filling in any gaps they might accidentally leave, while also negating the need for an over-abundance of tagging. 

"Games tagged RTS might not always have the tags Real-Time + Strategy, and vice versa. Likewise, a game tagged Action-Adventure + JRPG might lack the tags Action, Adventure, and RPG," continues the blog post. "Unfortunately this will return Search results that vary considerably based on which particular tags the user happens to choose."

"Developers who don’t know about this issue might, for example, tag their game RTS and not realize that it could fail to return in a search for the simpler tag Strategy. On the flip side, developers who do know about this issue might load their game up with every possible permutation of their chief tags.

"The downside to this approach is that it fills the game’s tag profile with lots of redundant tags. Query Expansion fills these gaps without requiring taggers to add synonymous tags to every game on Steam, or requiring players to form complex search queries."

Anybody keen to test the feature will need to opt-in to the Steam Labs Search experiment by clicking this link. Before you do that, though, you can learn even more about the tool over on the Steam blog.

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