Valve Reveals New Look Steam, Beta

By John Walker on February 24th, 2010 at 12:40 am.

Shiny and new.

Crikey, there’s a new Steam then. Valve explains that “in the last 12 months Steam has grown 200%. There are now 25 million users, 1000+ games, 12 billion player minutes per month, and 75 billion Steam client minutes per month.” Which means they need a newer, fresher Steam.

The opt-in beta is apparently now open. Except that it currently won’t let me onto it. Which is annoying. It seems that it takes a few minutes to wake up after a client update. I have to learn patience. To get complete details of the changes, head here. And if you’ve got Steam running then clicking here should open up the options to get you into the beta. Lots more information below.

It’s a complete overhaul. All new UI, new code, new everything. So here’s a few highlights.

There’s to be a greater emphasis on the social networking side of things, as you might expect. Or as I like to think of it, ways of spying on your buddies.

“Right from within your own game Library, you can now track which of your friends plays each game or invite them to play one with you. Before you’ve even bought a game, knowing whether your friends play it is one of the most useful pieces of information to have. So on the store homepage, there’s a new listing of what your friends have bought or played lately.”

There’s a new news feed, bringing info on the games they sell, both from inside and outside Valve. And a new way to organise achievements, because apparently people care about the bloody things.

I’m very pleased to see there’s a way of organising your game library. If you’ve been buying giant bundles during the holiday sales, you probably are too.

Certainly one of the highlights about the redesign is the shedding of Internet Explorer. It always bewildered me that this most crusty of browsers underpinned it all. Now it’s using WebKit-based rendering magic, which should hopefully speed everything up a deal.

Lots more details here.

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170 Comments »

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  1. Ross Sigworth says:

    You can force steam to check for a client update. After doing that for me the beta showed up

  2. Premium User Badge

    Ging says:

    it’s really quite pretty, the layout is much, much easier to navigate now.

    either restart steam or force a client update to get the beta to show up in your settings.

  3. Adz says:

    Sweet. I had to update the Steam client before I could get onto the beta, but I’ve got it now. Looks brilliant, webkit is a definite improvement. The new library is fantastic. All round excellence, even the grayer tray icon fits better with my theme :D

  4. Miker says:

    Slick. Very slick. And lots of features I’ve actually always wanted — like who actually plays a game, so I can decide which games to install.

  5. Adz says:

    Just noticed – clicking News takes you to the Store tab for some reason. Don’t know if it’s intentional during beta, or a bug.

  6. Snidely says:

    Too bad it also seems to have broken my Friends list. Groups are fine, but friends have disappeared.

  7. Po0py says:

    I love how the game library has a background image for each game. It’s also a bit zippy compared to the old steam. That will be the new browser engine.

    This is all rather splendid.

  8. jsutcliffe says:

    Excellent — and I’ll bet making it webkit-based will enable them to release a Mac client too, which would be grand.

    • SquareWheel says:

      Is there even any mac-games on the store? I’ve heard rumors of the source engine being ported, but…

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Why would there be Mac games in the store when Steam doesn’t run on a Mac? I mean that it’ll open up the Mac user base to Steam’s money train.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Oh please ohpleaseohplease…

      This was my first thought when I read about it too. And then i loaded it, and noticed the more Mac-like control corners, and the “File” menu becoming “Steam” and other nice touches and I got very excited indeed. Seriously, Valve, please.

      Quite a lot of the games on Steam have Mac versions. A good few of the indie titles (World of Goo, Braid) and the EA ones (Dragon Age: Origins), for example. I’d hope that buying a game on one platform would give me access to both versions. That would effectively make Steam the platform rather than Windows, and it could redefine PC gaming. I really hope they do it.

      Other than that, pretty! Quick! Clock on the overlay!

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      OMG! I checked the Steam forums: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1157656

      I might die of excitement.

  9. litrock says:

    Hrm. I like it, but man, the cool visual panels in the library make my non-steam games I’ve added to steam look INCREDIBLY ghetto. There should be a way to upload images for those panels. I’d be the loser who bothered to make something for those.

  10. Drexer says:

    Now using a WebKit based rendering engine for the client and in-game overlay web browsing components (replacing Internet Explorer)

    *Cries with sweet, sweet happyness*

    • Alex says:

      That was my favorite part of this announcement… Good night, sweet IE.

    • Deuteronomy says:

      Can you choose to use IE8 if you don’t want to install webkit?

    • ascagnel says:

      Deuteronomy, you don’t “install” WebKit — it gets bundled into what app is using it, and this allows Steam to be a bit more nimble in that they can update their WebKit use more frequently than if they were using the IE widget they previously were.

    • destx says:

      You don’t have to install Webkit. It’s integrated into Steam.

      And I don’t see any option to use IE as the renderer (Why the fuck would you want to?).

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who was excited by this. I feel incredibly geeky that WebKit is my favourite rendering engine because A) It means I have a favourite rendering engine B) It actually differs from my favourite browser (Opera).

  11. TimA says:

    Mmmmmmmmmm. This is nice, cleaner and faster. I like the way screenshots and videos are displayed on the store game pages. Though I’d still like to be able to collapse my window down in to a thin list of games I can double-click on… can I do that somehow?

  12. C. Guray says:

    Steam Friends & Community services were down for past 12 hours but I haven’t seen the new look yet. Since it was impossible to play MW2 & L4D without community connection, I hope the new look is worth it.

  13. SpinalJack says:

    s’about time!
    Lots of nice touches there not least the ditching of IE

  14. Gurthang says:

    This looks like a way better look than previous one, however I can’t seem to make it work. :(

    Every time I open Steam it immediately closes and I can’t play anything. Please help me.

    • sovere1gn says:

      Same thing happening here. I haven’t tried to restart my PC though.

      Edit: steam.exe -clearbeta
      Worked.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      As John said, it takes a while for the update to work through.

      I like it, nice and swanky. My favourite change is the Steam updater no longer reverting to the manky original UI.

    • ascagnel says:

      I’ve been getting silent crashing with the beta when I try to view webpages. Try clearing the beta, setting your default window to “My Games,” and then re-enabling the beta.

  15. Snuffy (the Evil) says:

    I don’t know what I think yet. The new browser engine is nice, but the games list seems… off. Maybe that’s just because I’m so used to the old way.

    • John Walker says:

      You can change to a list view on the top right. I did that, felt safe again, then realised I already missed the new stuff and switched back to the sexy new view.

  16. Mr. ThreEye says:

    I found the old steam really slow, is there much improvement in tis new shizzle?

  17. billyboob says:

    FINALLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

  18. duel says:

    after a moments pause for thought, I realised I’m actually quite excited!

  19. Vanderdecken says:

    Now using a WebKit based rendering engine for the client and in-game overlay web browsing components (replacing Internet Explorer)

    *Cries with sweet, sweet happyness*

    Likewise. Also, favourite servers are now stored in the cloud, like your Friends – brilliant for me, as my favourite servers are consistently the only thing I forget to back up before formatting my PC. >.<

    • Premium User Badge

      Jeeva says:

      Ahh, that’s a relief for me too. Always forget and wonder where they’ve got to. :)

  20. Sucram says:

    Well all the UI text is missing for me, so erm.. that may be a bug.

  21. gryffinp says:

    I can’t seem to get the webkit thing to work. Any webpage based stuff, store, community, renders as a blank white page.

    Other than that. Nice.

    • ascagnel says:

      A bug related to the default settings of Windows. Unless you use proxies, go to Settings -> Internet Options -> Connections -> LAN Settings and clear the “Automatically configure” checkbox (I forget the exact text offhand). I had the same issue, but clearing that tick box greatly sped up the rate at which the default view loaded the background info and allowed the other views to load (although those have crash bugs…)

  22. CMaster says:

    For some reason, this beta has made it redownload CoH.
    Odd.

  23. malkav11 says:

    The moment I saw this, I was thinking “Please let them have ditched IE, please let them have ditched IE”, and read all through the list of features and was like, yes, but…have you ditched IE? And then, at the very bottom? Joy.

  24. hoff says:

    I love the updates but… IT CRASHES ON START UP!

    That’s especially weird since I don’t know how to reset the beta and access my games at all now. Great.

  25. Lucas says:

    The most important question is: can it block the RPS group TF2 event popups?

  26. CMaster says:

    Hmm. Sad to see the “small games list”, my default mode has gone.

    • Camilo says:

      OMG no! :(

      Also, I just updated too and now it’s simple not working. I open it, logs in and then it closes. I can’t play my games until this gets fixed!

    • JB says:

      Ihad this problem too, I tried about 3 times with a short gap between, then it worked. Although I’m sure there’s a better way

  27. Jugglenaut says:

    Just started it having only looked at the games page, and I already love it. I have been wanting a better games page since my list got unwieldy after the last couple holiday sales.

  28. LewieP says:

    does it do aero snap now?

    • Premium User Badge

      DarkNoghri says:

      Not that I can see. It doesn’t even play nice with WinSplit.

  29. Premium User Badge

    DarkNoghri says:

    Oooooo, I just checked the new in-game overlay, and I LIKE. The fact that they finally ditched IE also made me happy.

    On the other hand, it could be a bit faster still. It just seems a bit sluggish.

  30. Oak says:

    They seem to have added achievements for Half-Life 2.

    • Stabby says:

      I think that was quite a while ago, actually. Maybe around when Ep 1 or 2 came out?

    • Oak says:

      I know they exist in Ep2, but never for the previous games. So far as I’m aware, anyway.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Oak

      You’re correct that, on the PC, there were no achievements for HL2 and Ep 1, even after Ep 2 launched. IIRC, the Xbox 360 version of the Orange box DID have achievements for HL2 and Ep 1 included, perhaps they finally got around to porting them over?

  31. radomaj says:

    @Snidely That’s not connected to this beta. I mean, it may be, but many people lost their Friendslist before they opted into it. (like me, for example)

  32. Mman says:

    I haven’t explored it much yet, but any issues it does have are instantly forgiven from me simply because it has somehow fixed an issue that’s made Hammer completely unusable to me for the last couple of months.

  33. hustlerose says:

    It looks nice but its redownloading mw2 and tf2 even though i had them both installed…so there goes 15 gigs of comcast bandwidth?

    • hustlerose says:

      update: i restarted steam and tried to play TF2 and it installed the latest (small) update and then worked. I then tried to play mw2 MP and it started at 4.5gb/11gb downloaded (Even though it started at 0gb when i first opened steam) however the free size of my C: drive went up so it definitely deleted something.

  34. Samuel Bigos says:

    Installed it, looked at the new library and changed back. The large icons make finding the game you want a scroll fest, and non steam games have really bad icons. They seem to have ditched the small icons which were perfect, and now you can’t have favorites and non favorites on the same page, you have to select from a dropdown which one you want.

    It’s also a lot more bloated, there is space everywhere which doesn’t need to be there (when you click on a game the actual information starts half way down the page, not to mention the IM windows).

    Other changes seem good but the library is what 90% of the time I’m on and for me it’s a downgrade.

  35. Frosty says:

    IT’S SO PRETTY!

  36. Purple0limar says:

    Uhh, just so you know… The beta’s shell appears to be screwing with the interface. At least, on mine, I can’t reach any nonlocal pages.

  37. Dante says:

    Well right now it seems that it quits out half way through the paypal process when trying to buy Call of Prypriat, so I guess it’s back to the original until they work the kinks out.

  38. ManaTree says:

    Woohoo!

    Several problems though:
    – Could use a little more polish that typical Windows applications use
    – Why can’t I freakin’ run media with something OTHER than WMP?
    – The minimum width of the thing is huge.
    – Make the scroll-y thing a little faster. It’ll feel more slick, more attentive.

    And others! Stay tuned when I’m off my arse to write about it.

    Also, I’ve got both CoH and TF2 and they aren’t downloading like you folks. Weird. Seriously, sometimes, computers just make me go “wut”, because not everyone has the same problem…I guess I’m fortunate though, I tend to not have problems.

  39. Phinor says:

    Crashes on startup, no fix available yet but they are probably working on it (yes, I deleted steam.dll, clientregistry.blob etc., they don’t work).

    What worries me is the font I see in those screenshots. Seems like it’s even more blurry/clearfonted/whatever you want to call it, than before? Pixel perfect font is in my opinion the only way to go but seems more and more people prefer blurring fonts in their software so I guess I’m once again in the minority with my opinion.. heck, it get harder and harder with every new Windows to get the real pixel perfect font back but at least Windows 7 still partially supports it. Most software don’t support it anymore and it saddens me very much.

    • Miker says:

      I thought I was the only person that noticed the blurry fonts. It’s like someone at Valve likes how fonts look on a Mac.

  40. Marcin says:

    Whoah. I think I’m in love with Grid View for the games list. So clean. So accessible. So purty!

  41. skinlo says:

    Apart from deleting COH, this looks pretty cool! I love the library downloads tab which shows the individual download speeds of the games!

  42. mda says:

    The old library was much easier. Why why why why why!

    New friends list and web stuff is awesome! Damn you library!

    And no you can’t fix it by going to list mode : Before, you could one-click-favourite games, seperating them from the others neatly. Now the icons are massive and you can’t seperate faves/nonfaves/uninstalled games while still displaying all of them. It takes forever to find what game you want!

  43. mda says:

    The old library was much easier.

    New friends list and web stuff is awesome

    Before, you could one-click-favourite games, seperating them from the others neatly. Now the icons are massive and you can’t seperate faves/nonfaves/uninstalled games while still displaying all of them. It takes forever to find what game you want!

    I APOLOGISE FOR MY HONEST COMMENT. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

    EDIT: Turns out you can use the old way: Go to list mode, click the “+” top right corner to turn off images. Hover over where add to favourites should be, and it appears. Also, right click games to add to new categories. Viva la new!

    • JuJuCam says:

      One-click favouriting still works in list mode, the icon is invisible till you hover over where it should be. Then you can click the star icon in list mode to bring all favourites to the top.

  44. Phil Wells says:

    I added some custom categories for my games, played a bit of Torchlight, then when I came back to Steam all my newly added categories had been deleted.

    Like the new overlay though.

  45. Bakaneko says:

    I agree completely with the list issue. Sure, the new stuff is pretty, but I found it much harder to set up to get to the games I want to play most while still having information on the screen about the games I COULD install/play/whatever. Some sort of nod to split panes or multiple list boxes, or something would be appreciated.

    Also, while pretty, its a little… large right now… on a 1920×1200 monitor it seems to want a lot of real estate to display very little information.

  46. JuJuCam says:

    People wanting old list view functionality should bear in mind that like all sensible lists, it can be sorted by clicking on the ‘list titles’ (‘Games’, the favourite star, the cloud for steam cloud support, etc etc.). With proper categorisation finding the games you want to play should never be easier with the additional bonus that you may even accidentally rediscover games you own but haven’t played in a while or installed.

  47. KP says:

    sexy. and readable.

  48. Kebab says:

    Updated. It has broken my steam installation. Tries to update and fails. Tried to uninstall and reinstall: fails. Tried to delete all files in C:program files/steam and cleaned the registry. Still fails, says there is an existing exe/need administrator permission. Now I find there is a steam rar file in the steam directory which it wont let me delete, saying I need administrator permission.

    Great.

  49. Sp4rkR4t says:

    My word, no more IE dependence, opens links in the correct browser, orders of magnitude faster response and it’s feckin gorgeous. Very well done valve you have finally eliminated all the little client things I despised about Steam.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Sp4rkR4t

      Wow. I was going to blow this off as a pointless redesign, but if it actually does everything you just said I think I’ll go download the beta.

  50. Vinraith says:

    What would be really brilliant is if this finally made offline mode truly reliable. I’d actually have to stop bitching about Steam so much if it did!

    • JuJuCam says:

      Offline mode is working for every game I’ve thrown at it, including ones that definitely didn’t work beforehand. Notably even GfWL enabled games (Street Fighter 4) and Steam Cloud enabled games (Torchlight) seem to work fine. I was even able to run Left 4 Dead. You may indeed have one less thing to worry about, Vinraith!

    • Vinraith says:

      @JuJuCam

      That games that would never work in offline before are working now is very encouraging. However, obviously you just updated, and most games work right after an update. The question is, given a bit of time, will they still work?

      Here’s hoping.