The Steam Game Festival's layout feels like iDosing

  • Steam's layout/user experience for their Steam Game Festival event gives me an incredible amount of anxiety. Like all smart social media decisions, rather than take a minute to cool off and let the fury pass, I'm going to make an ill-informed and unreasonable post in a public space.

    But look at this.

    After clicking the banner, you get taken to the Home tab of the Steam Game Festival event:
    Steam Game Festival home tab, with giant banner and genre tabs at the bottom

    It looks like the top of any normal Steam Store page, only when you scroll down, the first thing you see is this insane stream layout:
    Extremely confusing stream layout, with games on the left, multiple face cams, and a gray bar on the right asking if you want to download the demo

    What should I even be looking at here? There's so much information on display. Should I want to watch the stream, or should I want to click away to one of these four games? I can't even read the title of the second game, but I can see Foregone's title in three separate locations. Where's the chat? Instead of chat, there's a big dumb gray box with Foregone's key art AGAIN, and it either comes out in March or "soon." I also just can't stand how this stream layout almost kind of blends in with the Steam Game Festival page, but not really, so it looks like big ugly purplish boxes with face cams randomly spaced in relation to the alignment with the rest of the Steam page.

    At this point, I'm used to Steam putting stupid autoplay videos at the top of all of its pages, so whatever, I'll just scroll down:
    Page element titled, "Event Schedule," where event segments use game key art to advertise segments and important information is communicated using very small fonts

    This was the best you could do to tell people what the upcoming events were? To place a giant block of information in the middle of their scroll through your page? It almost feels like a hidden object game: "Hmmm yes there are events coming up, but can you find where we actually tell you what will happen at those events?!"

    At 7pm, we can play the Rain on Your Parade demo! Just kidding, it's actually a Dev Livestream and Q&A, did you catch that? You can play the demo right now, actually. But after what you're done watching that, you can check out the dev stream for The Last Sunshine: Rekindled! Just kidding, that's actually happening at the same time, hope you were paying attention!

    Not to mention a full quarter of this object is blocked by that ridiculous stream and maybe I'm just old, but I thought everyone hated popups. These popup elements where the video gets shoved to the corner of the screen after you scroll down always make me feel like I splattered hot greasy muck on myself; I just wanted to get away from that stream, but recoiling away from it wasn't enough. I actually have to physically remove it from my body.

    "Recommended for you" element, with five large game pictures, one of which is covered by the stream pop-up

    This is the last time I'll leave the stupid stream popup in the picture, but it's completely necessary to illustrate how annoying this feature is.

    "Recommended for you" is the scourge of the planet for various reasons, but at this point it's mandatory to put it in your storefront, so this one isn't Steam's fault. What is Steam's fault is the autoplay video that starts as you hover over each of these elements, which is reminiscent of the Netflix auto-trailer feature that makes you feel like you're running from Michael Myers as he chases you through the house and if you stop you're going to die. There is no way that description is overly dramatic; it is completely accurate.

    I thought "Recommended for you" was my least favorite store section until I saw this next one, and this is a first for me:

    "Browse by primary tags" element, which only shows large game photos, and does not show any tags

    What are primary tags?! Why are no tags listed whatsoever? Why are there so many games in this section? What am I even looking at? What section of the store is this??

    It's not until I got to this point in the write up that I saw the very unassuming filter button on the right. It lets you narrow by almost every tag on Steam, so while it almost makes me feel better about the section, it still doesn't clarify what a primary tag is (surely there's no game whose primary tag is "2.5D"), and it certainly doesn't show you what those tags are as you look at the entire element.

    At this point I was tired of getting everything recommended to me, so I went back to the top and clicked the RPG tab to check out what RPG demos there might be:
    Stream element, basically identical to the first one
    Event schedule, basically identical to the first one
    "Recommended for you," basically identical to the first one
    "RPG Highlights" element, which is just a big YouTube video titled "Steam Game Festival: February 2021 - RPG"

    It's the same stupid stream, the same stupid event schedule, the same stupid recommended for you section, before the first new section which is vaguely titled, "RPG Highlights." And it's just a YouTube video. I assume this video is a sizzle reel or series of trailers or something.


    If I click off of your Home tab, take me somewhere else. It means I don't want to be on the Home tab anymore. It means I want to specifically see RPG stuff. There was almost an existential moment when I clicked the RPG tab and literally nothing happened. Like if you walked out of your front door and ended up in your living room again.

    After all of the same garbage, it doesn't even take you anywhere good. Just to these weird subgenre sections where you can't control how you navigate through them. I hope you wanted to see all the Open World games first, because you're gonna!

    "Open World" element, which just shows five games of varying open world-ness

    (By the way, when you hover over these five games, only one of them, Frozen Flame, has the "Open World" tag listed. The others might have them listed when you click the game page, but it's apparently not important enough to be listed first.)

    I hate everything about this Steam Game Festival experience. What is it about me, am I too old? Am I wrong for expecting the ability to I don't know, check out what games I might be interested in, instead of what Steam thinks I'd be interested in? Am I wrong for expecting the information to be displayed more clearly? Am I wrong for being irritated at seeing the same 4 games presented to me multiple times as I scroll through the page, in different areas? This sucks. You suck, Steam.

    You suck.

  • [1 cent has been deposited into your Epic Games Store account]

    Honestly though, if you don't want to browse and pluck through things you've never heard of before, which is kind of the whole point of a demofest, just follow a youtuber or other curator that digs through it all for you and recommends the ones you might like most, then use Steam's handy-dandy search function that's always right at the top of your page to grab the exact name of the game you're interested in and go from there. If you don't need all these elements you're being overwhelmed by to find the stuff that interests you, good. There are plenty others who find those streams and such valuable for checking stuff out though.

  • Dude you are 100% right, that is a hot fucking mess. You're basically describing the first time I ever used Twitch which basically turned me off it for YEARS then EZA slowly got me into watching streams but to this day, I still try to avoid it if possible because of the hot mess interface.

    This looks even more cluttered. I couldn't tell you what the proper information on-screen is. Are the 'Events' just streams and all the random thumbnails are the demos? I have no idea tbh.

    And the Gamers(TM) wonder why average people find gaming complicated.

  • I feel like cluttered, messy and overly informative UI layouts like this made me become more impulsive when it comes to browsing for something. I usually just scroll through the page quickly without even thinking about it, looking for any game cover art that grabs my attention, and ignore everything else. It feels mindless, but the alternative is trying to make sense of these disguised monstrosities, which is just too much to ask for me.

  • Banned


    Youtube Video

    Not even once.

  • Haven't had a chance to dig into the demos but my coworker sent me this and I think it looks cool. I'll check it out this weekend.

  • @dipset

    If you are into 80s and TRON, you might like it. I didn't and thought it's art style is tiring and boring while the story is not very promising. Gameplay is nothing special too.

  • The animations are really nice, and from what I've seen it doesn't look like the gameplay is bad enough to completely ruin that experience. It just looks like a game that is more fun for your eyes than your...brain, I guess.