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Steam's search function just got a whole lot better

(Image credit: Valve)

With so many games on Steam, and no system of quality control in place to filter out the garbage, finding new things to play can be challenging. To help smooth those rough seas, Valve has developed a number of tools, like the Interactive Recommender and Play Next, through "experiments" in its new-ish Steam Labs program. One of those experiments, from September 2019, sought to expand Steam's basic search functionality with more filters and features.

That experiment is now fully live, which means that the Steam search function now enables users to filter their results by price and/or special offers, include and exclude tags (so you can specify survival games, but no zombies, for instance), and exclude games that you already own or have wishlisted or ignored. If you're searching in a non-English language, a language filter control will appear near the top of the search page, and if you're tired of seeing VR-exclusive results when you don't have a VR headset, you can now opt to exclude VR-only games. 

Search results will also be displayed with infinite scroll now, meaning that as long as you keep scrolling, results will keep loading automatically—but if you hate infinite scroll (as I do), you can switch back to the old "click to load more" system in your store preferences.

The ability to nail down exactly what you're looking for in a videogame certainly isn't a bad thing: If you want a free, singleplayer indie adventure with Steam achievements and cloud saves, in French, for instance, you can now pull one out of the pack with very little time or effort. But I wonder if the real problem here isn't the search functionality, but the overwhelming volume of games to search through—or, more to the point, if this would all be necessary if I didn't have to wade through crap like Hentai Nazi Hitler is Back while I'm browsing for something new to play.

Valve said that the rollout of the new enhancements "isn't the end of our Search improvements," and invited feedback from users on all its ongoing experiments through the Steam Labs page.

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.