steam game algo myths
Video Games

Steam Visibility Algorithm: How Players Find Your Game

Steam, Valve’s digital distribution platform for video games, is an essential marketplace for game developers and publishers. The process of getting games featured on Steam and ensuring their visibility to players is a topic of great interest to many. In this article, we will delve into the various discovery mechanisms at play on Steam, discussing the factors that determine visibility and how Valve’s philosophy and relationship with customers guide their approach.

The Primary Goal: Matching Games with Players

Valve’s primary goal is to match games with the players who will love them. They believe that by doing so, they can build long-term relationships with both players and developers, fostering trust and ensuring a positive experience for all parties involved. This goal serves as a framework for their approach to visibility on Steam.

No Paid Advertising or Placement

One of the key rules of visibility on Steam is that Valve does not sell advertising or placement. This means that developers cannot buy featuring for their games on the front page or anywhere else on Steam. Valve firmly believes that paid advertising would compromise the integrity of the platform, creating an uneven playing field and making recommendations less reliable for players. As a result, marketing on Steam remains completely free for developers, ensuring equal opportunities for all.

The Role of Algorithms and Curation

Steam’s visibility is a blend of algorithmic and curated featuring. Algorithmic visibility is personalized for each player, while curated featuring is shown to all users. Understanding the difference between these two types of featuring is crucial to comprehend how games are surfaced on Steam.

Algorithmic Visibility: Personalized Recommendations

Algorithmic visibility on Steam is driven by player interests and preferences. The platform uses algorithms to analyze a player’s gaming history, wishlists, games recommended by friends, and more to provide them with personalized and relevant recommendations. The Featured and Recommended section on the front page is a prime example of algorithmic visibility. Games shown in this section are recommended based on tags, similar games played, friend activity, and other personalized factors.

Curated Featuring: Showcasing New and Popular Games

While algorithmic visibility is tailored to individual users, curated featuring is more universal. It includes sections like Curator Recommendations, which are algorithmically generated based on the games recommended by curators a user follows. Additionally, top seller lists, regionalized recommendations, and promotions like Midweek or Weekend Deals are also considered curated featuring. Curated featuring is earned based on player interest and specific criteria rather than personalized recommendations.

Determining Featured Games

Now that we understand the two types of featuring on Steam, it’s essential to explore how games are selected for these curated and algorithmic areas. While many developers and publishers try to unlock the secret behind the algorithms, Valve emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all algorithm. Steam’s algorithm adapts and customizes itself based on user preferences and feedback.

Tags: A Critical Role in Recommendations

Tags play a vital role in Steam’s recommendation system. The main capsule, or the Featured and Recommended section, heavily relies on tags to recommend games to users. By analyzing the tags associated with a player’s gaming history and wishlisted games, Steam suggests titles that align with their interests. This transparency helps players understand why a game is being recommended to them and allows developers to optimize their games’ visibility by adding relevant tags.

The Impact of Sales and Updates

Steam pays close attention to customer interest and reactions to games. Significant updates or events related to a game can generate a burst of customer interest, which Steam promptly picks up on. These bursts of interest can lead to increased visibility and featuring on the platform, even long after a game’s initial release. Developers are encouraged to keep striving for excellence, as any game has a chance to be successful on Steam if it resonates with players.

Steam Algo Common Myths

In the gaming community, various rumors circulate about what drives algorithmic visibility on Steam. Valve aims to dispel these myths and provide developers with accurate information to make informed decisions regarding their games’ visibility.

Some common myths include:

Store Page Traffic and Conversion Rate

Contrary to popular belief, direct store page traffic and conversion rate do not directly impact visibility on Steam. While increased traffic and higher conversion rates can potentially lead to more sales, they are not factors used by Steam’s algorithm to determine visibility.

Review Scores

Review scores are not a direct factor in visibility either. While positive reviews can signal to players that a game is worth checking out, a few percentage points on the overall review score will not have a direct impact on visibility.


There is no specific threshold of wishlists required to appear on the front page or earn featuring on Steam. Wishlists are valuable for notifying interested players when a game launches or goes on discount. However, having a large number of wishlists does not guarantee featuring. Steam focuses on player interest and engagement rather than the quantity of wishlists.

Early Access as a Visibility Boost

Entering Early Access does not guarantee additional featuring or visibility for a game. Early Access is primarily a development tool and should not be relied upon as a marketing strategy.

Localization Matters

Steam takes into account the supported languages of a game when determining its visibility. Games with broader language support have a higher chance of being featured to relevant audiences. Developers are encouraged to consider localization to increase their games’ potential reach.

The Ever-Evolving Steam Platform

Valve continuously works to enhance the Steam platform for both players and developers. They constantly analyze data, gather feedback, and tinker behind the scenes to improve visibility and create a more tailored user experience. It is essential for developers to stay informed about the latest updates and learn from other successful developers to maximize their games’ visibility.


Understanding how games get surfaced to players on Steam is crucial for game developers and publishers. Valve’s approach to visibility revolves around matching games with players who will love them and building long-term relationships with both players and developers. Through a combination of algorithmic and curated featuring, Valve ensures that games are recommended based on player interests and preferences. While there is no magical algorithm, developers can optimize their games’ visibility by utilizing relevant tags, focusing on customer interest, and creating a burst of sales and players at launch. In the ever-evolving landscape of Steam, developers must adapt and take advantage of the platform’s features to achieve success.