Steam Tag Research

A lot more talk with devs, fans and reading went into this than I'll be able to note below, but I wanted to briefly share some more background info on steam tags in order to better advocate for the top down implementation of new ones.

Please see the Explainer tab for explanation of why these in particular are the terms we're advocating for, specifically 'Bullet Heaven' and 'Survivors-like' as top priority. See Definitions for a succinct working dictionary of all these terms.

We need Bullet Heaven to distinguish heavily from Bullet Hell games as a subgenre of its own, and Survivors-like, which alludes in the name to the Survival mechanics, popular game Vampire Survivors, and the rogue-like aspects. I haven't seen this written out much yet, but based on the usage and feedback from fans, 'survivors-likes should not be seen as a simple 'game-like' temporary name for a genre, but rather a portmanteau of 'survivor' and 'rogue-like'.

Some have noted there are already lots of tags that apply. Sure! But subgenre tags are about helping fans find exactly what they want with the least friction possible in order to facilitate a sale. Anyone who works in online marketing, front end design or UX knows that every single click or 30 seconds scrolling results in less action on whatever call to action you are trying to have.

To use a live example that is very close in situation, after Slay The Spire became popular the tag Roguelike Deckbuilder (and basic concept) came into use. But there are actually multiple tags in use and visible by default that apply. For example, see a recently released title here:

It's worth noting that steam has Roguelike Deckbuilder but also Deckbuilding, Card Game, Card Battler and Trading Card Game (not pictured.) In theory you can have a deckbuilding tag alongside rogue-lite and call it a day, but their tagging of similar subgenres seems to indicate there should be no problem with front ending multiple tags for the bullet heaven / survivors-like games. Users don't use tags to understand taxonomies the game falls under, they use them as non-hierarchical categories which each generate their own site view. So this is less like scientific classification and more just making sure the user flow is organic.

There's only currently 413 games on steam with the Roguelike Deckbuilder tag, and easily 600 survivors-likes and probably over 500 bullet heavens. A full CSV could be given to steam to have all these games properly tagged (I would argue also for the inclusion of Auto Shooter, Single Stick Shooter and Horde Survival).

'Deckbuilder' is a good example of less popular subgenres that already have tags, but there are also also a lot more games in the survivors-like subgenres than there are in the three less popular but public roguelike tags.

In addition to Roguelike Deckbuilder, Traditional Roguelike and Roguevania also have their own public steam tags. All three of them have less games in the subgenre currently available on steam. There are easily over 600 survivors-likes and over 500 bullet heavens on steam, really just counting games released in the last year or two. Some older games could also benefit from the tagging and renewed interest by new fans.

As of writing this (10/26) at least 137 released games in the bullet heaven / survivors-likes subgenre have 10 or less reviews, likely in part because they are so hard to find right now. It's a shame because many of these have 100% positive reviews and some seem pretty good.

It's crazy to realize, but this subgenre already makes up over 10% of all rogue-lites on steam. It's creeping up on 20% of action roguelikes

Probably this isn't really a philosophical difference with Steam's administrators - applying metadata to hundreds of games takes careful research and then time and money to carry out. Probably it hasn't happened yet simply due to the short timeframe and because it is much easier to let users (fans and devs) apply tags to games and then approve one to go public once it has reached critical mass.

On a lighter note, I'm not surprised roguelike deckbuilder fans have been more consistent about adding tags to games than bullet heaven and survivors-like fans, considering the attention spans of the respective gamers! Seriously though, I'm less likely to leave proper tagging on a game I intend to spend 10 minutes with on my steam deck during a lunch break. It's only natural.

Luckily, a pretty good CSV file of suggested tags for these 600-700 survivors-likes could probably be created (at this point, since they're already in the spreadsheet) in a 2 to 3 day period and imported into Steam, mostly solving this issue. If you work at Steam, get in touch at if you'd like help with that!