Back in March, Steam Labs – a kind of testing ground for new features on the platform – rolled out the News Hub. Now this feature is getting refined with News Channels.
News Channels include sources for games news outside of the developers and publishers themselves.
“Up until now, the Steam News Hub has been a place to find updates and announcements directly from the developers of games you play, Wishlist, or follow. With this update, you now have a broader selection of news available to you. Add as many of these additional sources to your personalized News Hub as you like. They’re all available free of charge,” reads the announcement.
Those who have been using Steam in the last few years may be feeling a bit of déjà vu right now. This is because articles from outside sites about games used to be baked into the Steam client. These were removed in October of 2019 when the Steam library got its big overhaul. It seems a bit silly to now reintegrate content like this after a year, but we’re sure the designers at Valve have some reasoning for it.
That being said, from what we can see the big benefit on the part of Steam is that the articles and other content posted by outside sources and sites can have their work read entirely on Steam. While this is convenient for the user, and for Valve who gets to keep users doing everything on Steam itself, it means that the content creators don’t get clicks through to their own websites.
Looking at this example screenshot, an article by PCGamesN about Dota 2, appears to be viewable in its entirety from the News Hub.
While we understand that ads are annoying and a simple user experience is king, not clicking through to read news on your favourite sites will result in them eventually dying. Hopefully Steam has been working with sites behind the scenes to make it fair for all parties involved.
Looking at the banner made up by Valve in the header image above several big name sites such as Ars Technica, PC Gamer, VG247 and more are represented. This must mean that those sites are onboard for the new News Channels feature.
“Each news source brings different kinds of news and content, including rich media, screenshots, videos, or detailed guides and reviews. Some news sources are delivering quick blurbs that you can quickly scan in the News Hub, while other sources include their full articles. Included YouTube videos are even playable right in the news feed. And there’s always a link to explore more via the news source’s own website,” continues the announcement.
Features created by Steam Labs are carried out as experiments before being improved and rolled out as fully fledged features. The News Hub is listed as “Experiment 9” and is almost complete as of now.