Valve is now rolling out Steam Chat, a revamp of its old chat system, to all users. A beta version of the service was first unveiled in June this year, but the company is now opening it up for everyone. The new and improved Steam Chat service comes with several new features such as group chats, multiple channels, voice chat support, and inline multimedia. With Steam Chat, Valve is taking on the competition from rivals like Discord, and has implemented some popular Discord-like features into the Steam client. All the features are now live, available both on the Steam client and via a Web interface.
A lot of users started using Discord for their chat requirements when it was launched three years ago. With the latest update, Steam gives users less reason to use a third-party service, offering the ability to share GIFs, social and video links, sort friends by favourites, group friends as per the game on Steam Chat. Players can maintain more fully featured group chats that are designed more like Discord servers. Steam Chat also comes with built-in voice chat support with options like channels and link inviting.
Overall, voice chat has been improved, Valve said. The company is promising "clear, crisp voice quality", with the service said to be rewritten from the ground up with a new WebRTC-based backend. Valve adds that voice chat "uses high-quality Opus encoding, voice traffic is encrypted, and all traffic is sent through Steam servers rather than directly to peers. This keeps your IP address private, which masks your physical location and also prevents network attacks." Voice chats will also be visible in your friends list, letting you see at a glance if your friends are talking in a voice channel and join them.
In Steam Chat, games can now show details in the Friends List like where friends are in a game or if they're involved in a match or just starting out. It also informs, whether the friends are available for matchmaking and what party they're playing with. You can also pull friends together for group chats. The update also gives the chat interface a major overhaul, sporting a flat, modern design aesthetic with more intuitive design elements. Steam has provided the full changelog on its site.
On its site, the company says, "Friends and chat are just the beginning. This update was built using a new UI framework and includes some important architectural improvements under the hood, all of which allow us to make more frequent updates to our web-based Steam components. There are many improvements to the overall Steam experience that we plan to tackle." In order to check out the new chat system and already have Steam installed, just pop into Steam and tap the Friends and Chat button in the bottom right.
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