Steam is the preferred gaming platform for PC gamers (me being one of them!), a place where we can discover and access great games to play. The Steam interface is a relic of the past with its heavy UI. It recently got an UI revamp which a lot of users were looking forward to but not satisfied as they expected big interface changes. The following personal project study is to understand the steam store UX and come up with a modern revamped version of steam interface that is clutter free and showcases different capabilities of steam (not only games but its community features, livestreaming & remote co-op play, achievement systems).
With an intent to know the gamers reaction to Steam UI update, I went through public forums like this reddit posts. The general reaction is steam users are happy with the interface revamp but expected more. The steam interface still looks cluttered and overwhelming. I also did interview of few steam users to understand the problems they face navigating steam.
Let's look at the UI of steam and attempt to understand what user expereince it is offering and where there is scope for improvements. On steam app launch, an offers popup appears which if usera are interested can click next and browse or close. The user will land on landing on thestore page can check out these offers anyway and so the offer popup feels obstructive.
The steam landing page is store page where players can discover new games to buy unlike say playstation store or GoG galaxy which focuses on bought games / completions. Other features in steam like broadcasting, community, achievements take a backseat in the UI and gives just a feel of an game buying portal whereas in reality steam has more depth to it.
The game store page has lot of relevant information needed for the player before purchasing a game like game genre, gameplay video, ratings, user reviews, critic ratings, system requirements, DLCs and more.
Steam community has lot of features like broadcasting of gameplays, game screenshots / reviews, new updates to games. But all these are scattered around and not organised into relevant content contexually. For example, the community can show feeds / livestreams related to games I’m currently playing instead of randomnly showing unbought game. Also game news/ updates can be organised clearly into separte section.
Steam has a deep Achievement system with hours of play, badges, steam trading cards, player level and points shop . The steam UI does not do justice to these multiple systems and makes it look complex for the player to understand.
Let's start with the landing page experience which is the entry point for the user on launching the steam app in PC. The current landing experience in steam is focussed on store page that shows all the offers running in steam and recommendations for game buying conversion like an e-commerce store. Such an approach leads to lot of game purchase in steam but not good game completions by the users. The proposed solution is to treat steam more like a content platform than an e-commerce store. The landing page has a for you section that suggests the user relevant game which might result in better game completions and engagement for the user.
Watching game streams are primary engagement activity for a lot of gamers (Refer verge article or this one). Steam currently has a broadcast section but it is inside community page with more friction to access it. The broadcast section can also add to better game discovery point in steam by suggesting relevant game streaming content to the user and be a platform like twitch. To drive this, the broadcast section is made one ofthe primary tab. Continue playing section in landing page is proposed to quickly launch the last played game without friction for the steam user and increasing game installs.
The profile section is re-thought to better showcase the user's progression and achievements in steam. Refer this figma file for the final wireframes.
The profile page of steam has lot of information like game achievements, trading cards, badges. The UI concept makes presenting these features without overwhelming the user and be lost in searching a particular milestone like in the current UI.
A click through mock is made in figma and tested with steam users.
The figma prototype is user tested with few steam users for feedbacks in comparison with the current steam UI. Overall, the designs were well recieved by everyone. They found a huge improvement in accessibility of featurea as well as clear look of the concept over the current steam UI. They gave a few meore important features in steam like quick accessing joystick settings, big picture mode UI (for controller based navigation), game version installed information in my game page, more feature changes to profile page by adding activity logs and make remote play much more easily accessible.
Since steam has been my go to platform to play games, this side project has been a good learning for me to know more about the depth of steam platform and made me think about how I could make it much better. I’ll look back the designs for this project soon with a fresh set of eyes and add more changes taking feedbacks. Thank you all for reading!