Steam Tags feature announced: has a trolling problem already

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 13, 2014
Updated • Feb 13, 2014

introducing steam tags

Valve is rolling out a new feature on its Steam gaming platform called Steam Tags. If you have a blog on the Internet, or visit sites that use tags frequently, you know already how this works.

Basically, instead of just adding a game to a category, you can use tags that describe it in detail. So, instead of calling Call of Duty Ghosts an action game, you can add descriptive tags to it that fit the genre better. From shooter over military to fps for example.

What makes Steam Tags special is that it is entirely community based. If you are a Steam user, you can tag any game you want, even those that you do not own, with anything you want.

Yes, that led to abuse already but more about that later.

Tags can be browsed just like categories, which is probably the most important feature introduced here. If you like Tim Schafer, 4x or medieval RPGs, then you can use tags to browse only games that have been tagged this way.

And since you are more likely to trust the tagging of your friends, you can filter by those tags as well.

Whenever you open a game on Steam, you see a selection of popular tags on the right. While limited here to a handful of tags, there does not appear to be a tag limit which means that games can theoretically have hundreds of tags assigned to them.

You can click on the plus icon to open a list of tags, which also displays each tags popularity to you.

And as you can see from the screenshot above, most of the tags do not really describe the genre or theme of the game at all.

This is not the case for all games, but if you check out Call of Duty Ghosts, you will notice that the top five tags displayed on the game's store page are all non-genre descriptive in nature. They are: garbage, dog, bad, fish ai and poor quality.

Another example? Game Tycoon's top five tags are: rip-off, Don't buy this!, broken, crap and junk.

Unrelated to specific games are tags such as beard simulator, not Shenmue, or Put Flappy Birds on Steam, which you also find assigned to various games on the site.

That's a problem, since tags have been designed to help you find games faster, not browse games based on player perception, ratings or totally unrelated words or phrases.

Now, this is not an issue for all games that you browse on Steam. Many are tagged appropriately and you won't find unrelated tags listed on the store page directly.

It is likely that time will sort out these issues, as the majority of Steam users are likely going to assign proper tags to games.

It does not stop here though. Steam displays a new "For You" section in the client. It highlights games recommended by Steam, by your friends, and also displays five or so tags that Steam recommends for you.

If you take a look at the screenshot above, you will notice that one of the five tags is not really descriptive at all. This tag seems to make the rounds on Steam, as it is used to tag a wide variety of games on the platform.

Another issue that you may run into is that games that you already own are displayed when you browse tags. This may not be a big issue, but an option to filter out those games to improve the browsing of the remaining games would help.

Steam's tagging feature is in beta right now, and rightfully so. Once it gets over the initial trolling phase, it is likely that it is going to be a helpful tool for users of the platform to find games that they are interested in. For now, take it with a grain of salt.


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  1. rjf said on March 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    They are blocking the “Region locked” / “region-locked” tags, which has nothing to do with insult and has all to do with objective and factual truth (do you know what are guidelines for eBay feedback e.g.? What you tell there should be factual, that’s all).

  2. patrick said on February 18, 2014 at 7:39 am

    They are blocking TAGS now
    Unfinished (BANNED)
    Incomplete (BANNED)
    trash (BANNED)
    waste (BANNED)
    rubbish (BANNED)
    crappy (BANNED)
    Crap (BANNED)
    Junk (BANNED)
    garbage (BANNED)
    awful (BANNED)
    dreadful (BANNED)
    terrible (BANNED)
    Bad (BANNED)

    Soon a plethora of synonym negatives will also be banned, even though they are relevant.
    So it is evident that the system is geared at targeting only what they want you to hear to make a sale. see for yourself look at say
    Infestation: Survivor Stories, more people hate it than love it. Look at the metacritics on the right. Read the reviews. Yet do the tags reflect it? No, and they won’t be allowed to.
    The point was to be a “A Powerful New Way to Shop For Games” with the selling point of “Tag Anything, Your Way” ” Or, come up with entirely new concepts to apply in categorizing products” and it is far from it. Its censored, and not from the basic standpoint of protecting users from nasty words. Its border line fraudulent statements right there.

    I guess the Store Front Page alone, or the below link, isn’t enough as a “Powerful Way to Shop For Games” anymore

    I don’t really need users telling me what Genre, Category or tropes, about game, I can get that stuff censored along with misleading, inaccurate, product descriptions through Valve and its Publishers store pages already.

    TAG = Skewed, lopsided, useless, Its like Facebook having a “Like” button, not much point to it if you cannot also dislike something and show it.

  3. whatever said on February 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Finnen speaks the truth.

  4. Finnen said on February 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    That was the first thing I thought of when I heard about the Steam Tags. I didn’t really read too much about it so I didn’t know any details before. First question I asked myself was “Is this going to be community based or there will be some quality check?”. I instantly threw away the idea of it being fully community-based. Reason? You can see it above – a completely unrelated tags with stupid comments. Who cares about people hating the game? I played lots of games that were hated (or at least had enough negative comments to be promoted to tag) and I loved these games. Other people’s opinion should not be considered when it comes to choosing movies, games or music. It’s all a matter of taste and preference.

    Tags are nice but IMO they should be maintained by Steam Moderators. I’d love to see tags that describe feeling of a game, setting, landscape, characters and stuff but now, with tags being open for every person, I’m just going to ignore them. Tags are meant to expose parts of game that cannot be described with few words like “action” or “rpg”. They are not meant to tell you that the game is crap or anything like that. Besides, it looks extremely unprofessional and I really hope Steam will do something about it. I wouldn’t buy ANYTHING from a shop that has its games tagged with “doge”, “joke” or “crap”.

  5. Anonymous said on February 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I’d expect bigger problems when major companies will start trying to manipulate these tags for profit. So far it looks helpful and entertaining. I mean, CoD Ghosts IS garbage.

    1. BMO said on February 13, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      “CoD Ghosts IS garbage”

      This man speaks the truth. Though I’m curious as to what you mean by major companies manipulating it?

      lol… “Dog”

  6. Anonymous said on February 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    You are so so so wrong. If many people are tagging a game as ‘trash’ it probably means there’s a reason. Stop getting mad over your favorite game being seen as trash.

    1. sades said on February 13, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Every popular enough game is trash then, welcome to Steam tag.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on February 13, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      It depends on what you expect tags to represent. If you want them to quality games by type, then ratings such as “trash” should not be allowed. If you just want categorizations regardless of whether they are ratings, personal feelings, funny or whatever, then the current tagging system works well for you.

      When I search for games using the new tagging system, I won’t search for trash or crap or shit tags, as I won’t play those games. Instead, I want to search for something that I’m interested in.

  7. Jav said on February 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I think it’s fine. I mean if you look at tags from Dark Souls, “Git Gud or Die Tryin”, basically gives you the gist. Or “praise the sun”. If the game is good, gamers will support it.

  8. Akari~n said on February 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I lol’d at the better than league tag. :))))

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