Steam UI overhaul incoming, Valve presentation confirms

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An overhaul of Steam’s UI is in the works and will focus on changes to the library and game launch pages, according to a Valve presentation at the recent conference Indigo 2017.

The slides from Valve’s product designer Alden Kroll, posted on the ValveTime forum, say that there’s an “overall UI refresh and update coming”, but give no date for the changes. Specifically, Valve plans to add the option to quickly launch recently played games from the library home page. That’d be welcome – if you’ve got a large collection and you’re juggling 3 or 4 games, it’s a (very minor) pain to have to keep scrolling between them.

The tweaks will also highlight games in your library that currently have some activity, whether than be events, updates, or simply titles your friends are playing.

Valve also promised a new “rich display of content” on game launch pages. The company says the reworked pages will better highlight your friends’ activity in that game and flag community screenshots, artwork, and guides.

Here are the relevant slides:

Steam UI changes 1

Steam UI changes 2

Steam UI changes 3

The news does seem to back up images that were discovered in a Steam Client beta version released in February, as noted by SteamDB. They showed a streamlined library with a ‘recent items’ section and a game launch page that gave links to current streams of that particular title. Clearly it’s something Valve have worked on in the past – whether the final result resembles these pictures or not remains to be seen.

Steam UI library new


I mean, the new slides are not much to go on, but all the changes do seem reasonable and the UI is definitely due a refresh. Is there anything you’d like to see overhauled in Steam’s UI?

Hat tip to cheery RPS fanzine PCGamer for flagging the presentation up.


  1. MonkeyJug says:

    Recently played games can be accessed in both Big Picture and Normal modes with zero scrolling required.


    • po says:

      Or right click the icon in the systray, and you’ve got the 5 most recent games (although it’ll push played ones off and replace them with most recently installed, which is rather annoying when you buy bundles).

      • basilisk says:

        Incidentally, I’d like them to stop using the systray icon, thank you very much. Windows 7 was released seven years ago; I really think they could have noticed by now that with the W7+ taskbar, the systray icon is completely pointless.

        • Asurmen says:

          How so basilisk?

          • basilisk says:

            The W95+ systray was never intended for residential (constantly running) apps, but ended up being used that way because they otherwise cluttered the taskbar and screen estate was very limited back in those days. And the habit stuck.

            With the much more compact W7 taskbar and widescreen monitors, in the vast majority of use cases it’s no problem at all to have everything that’s currently running registered as an icon on the taskbar and leave the systray to its original purpose: showing system icons.

            In other words, I currently have a Steam icon on my taskbar and another Steam icon in my systray. Both have the exact same functionality and the one on the right isn’t supposed to be there. And it can’t be turned off. Because of bad habits inherited from 1995, essentially.

          • DarkFenix says:

            I wouldn’t mind them giving people an option to turn that icon off, but please don’t assume that because you don’t like it/think it’s pointless, everyone else does too. I like it there, I want it there.

          • basilisk says:

            Oh, of course it should be optional. I wasn’t clear enough on that.

        • somnolentsurfer says:

          God yes. There’s no reason for it to be in the system tray. Please let us get rid of it.

          • eeguest says:

            I always run steam in system tray and do not have it pinned to task bar.

      • Sakkura says:

        Same functionality on the taskbar, which is easier to access than the systray.

        • Cvnk says:

          Not that I’d miss the systray icon but Steam doesn’t appear in my taskbar when it’s minimized. Nor would I want it to. But frankly I don’t want or need Steam staring me in the face at all times. I don’t mind clicking the start menu and typing “steam” when whenever I want to play a game. Or simply keeping 4 or 5 desktop icons for the games in currently playing.

          So in summary, yeah, get rid of the tray icon.

    • Premium User Badge

      samsharp99 says:

      Nice – never seen/used this before but it’s pretty good!

      • G says:

        You can also pin frequently played games so they don’t drop off.

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          ooshp says:

          You can also remove a heap of stuff in Steam options from the jumplist so more recent games fit on it.

          If you’ve got a decent res screen you can also bump the jumplist limit way up with regedit, though last time I looked it couldn’t be changed in Windows 10.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      You can set Steam to always show your recent games in the settings. in ‘Interface’ change ‘Favourite Window’ to ‘Library’, and make sure your library is set to Recent.

      • April March says:

        I do that, but it seems to keep changing away from Recent for some reason. Still, it’s the best way to do what the article describes.

  2. Ghostwise says:

    My library isn’t gigantic for an enthusiast gamer – 550-ish games. Yet the client struggles with loading the list whenever I scroll down, freezing for several seconds…

    Collection management is direly lacking. One can only use tags in Big Picture mode (WHY ?). I don’t think I can annotate games or otherwise create sortable attributes (only painstakingly-created categories). One cannot change the games’ name. Changing the pictures for the games and shortcuts is a pain in the posterior.

    At least it’s skinnable…

    • DBGDBG says:

      What’s the problem with categories? I use them and never had described “issues” of managing the structure of my game collection.

      • haldolium says:

        Everytime you put a game into a category, favorites, anything it jumps to that category. That means managing a huge list of games w/o categories is a painful right now.

        • gwathdring says:

          While this is annoying, I’ve never had it notably impede my ability to organize things.

          What DID impede my ability to organize things was the need to set categories individually–but currently you can finally select multiple games at once for deletion, installation or setting categories, so that’s not an issue for me anymore.

          What sort of usage case is causing you problems? I can’t really think of a case where you’d start from a list in one place (say the unsorted Games list), and then move things in small groups at a time into other categories thus requiring lots of back-tracking. I suppose if you use a lot of relatively small categories that could be more of a problem?

        • Haxton Fale says:

          link to

          They should really make this a native Steam feature…

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      It’s either your gear or your network connection. My clint isn’t struggling at all with 1k games.

      • Ghostwise says:

        Then you probably aren’t displaying icons in the list.

        • Targaff says:

          Or you could just be making assumptions about other people’s setup because their experience doesn’t match yours. I have ~900 displayed with icons and have never had a problem.

          • Ghostwise says:

            See, you almost made a constructive answer before deciding to go for the usual penis-waving smarter-than-thou hard man crap.

          • Ich Will says:

            Really? I would have thought the knowledge that eliminates the problem that you thought you had and couldn’t do anything about would be invaluable to you. It seems you would rather snark instead. Nothing you said about his post was his intention and it comes across strongly that you just can’t cope with the realisation that you were wrong. Maybe that’s not true, but it really does read like you could write your own post about yourself. Now I was going to help you, but you know what, I actually have tried 3 times to write how without writing something that if you took his post as a boast, you would take mine as a boast as well. So sorry, I’m not going to.

          • aliquis says:

            Maybe you need to take your own advice, because clearly the OP had an issue with it.
            Anyway; I tried in my own client and it works fine for me but I have 100 mbps Internet connection so maybe it’s because of that?
            I also think I’ve got Steam installed onto an SSD though my Steam library isn’t on one and maybe it’s because of that?
            Otherwise I have a slow CPU so ..

        • Sangrael says:

          I don’t know how much of it is from my skin (Metro), but I have zero issues with all 3072 (humble bundles are my vice) games I own displaying with icons. I do normally just have it set to only show the games I have installed, which is only 93. Also, if you’re having issues with it jumping up categories as you’re assigning them, I just minimize all the categories before I assign categories to a bunch of games at once.

    • Grizzly says:

      My library isn’t gigantic for an enthusiast gamer – 550-ish games.

      It’s gigantic.

      • Dynamique says:

        So… From those stats I deduce: Single player oriented players do own more games? Free to play rules, after all? (Sad.)

        Anyway, greetings from a fellow one-percenter. We’re not the majority, but we do own the majority of games!

        (Follow-up research question: How much money do them 80% spend on hats etc.?)

    • Eleriel says:

      My Steam library did this too (200 games)… until I removed all the shorcuts to my non-steam games.

      Now it scrolls like a dream.

      • Otterley says:

        Interesting observation – I also haven’t had the scrolling issue mentioned above (with of without icons) and neither do I have any references to non-Steam games in the library.

  3. davec1 says:

    Games people already own should never show up in the Store view. It’s a wasted opportunity for Valve and Devs to present another game and annoying to players. It’s a lose/lose/lose. This includes Recently Updated. While that is relevant information, that information (for owned games) belongs in the library view.

    It seems like such low-hanging fruit, I don’t get why that’s not implemented yet. As I’m looking at my Store page, 3 out of 4 games in the first view of the Special Offers category are games I own. 3/4 of the Recently Updated category (it makes sense, just not in the Store view). Clicking on the Specials list view, the top 3 games Valve shows me are already in my library, and that’s using the “Relevance” sorting filter. Come on, games I own are definitely not relevant to me in the context of the Store.

    • Beefenstein says:

      You might want to buy them for your friends.

      If it bothers you there’s steamdb where you can search for games (and sales) without seeing owned games.

      • davec1 says:

        You’re right, that is a use case I hadn’t considered originally. But then the proper way to do it is to let the user configure whether they want to see stuff they already own or not (e.g. as a filter for lists). Relying on SteamDB or any other external service, mod or website can’t be the answer here.

        I don’t have the data on how many people buy stuff that is shown to them on the Store page. Personally, when I gift games to other people, it’s very specific games that I already know about and that I think they’ll like. If I’m waiting for a sale, I can keep them in my Wishlist. But I realize other people may use Steam in different ways.

        • davec1 says:

          having another look, I’ve just seen you can click on a title in the store front page and mark it as “not interested”, which, according to the Discovery Queue FAQ should prevent it from cropping up in any featured areas or recommendations. It doesn’t seem to have any immediate effect (it’s not replaced with another title), however. Maybe it affects what you see in future featured areas, though?

          • that_guy_strife says:

            It kinda works, but not that much. I have maybe 900 games tagged ”not interested” but Steam isn’t afraid to show them in Featured views. Still, better than the nothing there was before.

  4. Kirasath says:

    Something i would love to see is fully customizable personal store dashboard.

    Like you can define different lists and move them around so have lists for top selling games of developers or newest game of a genre or any list you want and make it long or short and layout where on your dashboard they should be, put up different feeds and such from groups or community page follows, endless possibilities to do awesome things like this so the gamers can make sure they dont miss out on knowing about games they might be interested in on steam :D
    At least i would be delighted to have this…

  5. DBGDBG says:

    Right click on the steam tray icon and the last 5 played games are there. I never had to scroll through anything in the library ever.

  6. mpk says:

    I’ve been using Steam since Half-Life 2. I don’t even notice how bad the UI is anymore, especially since so many of my games these days come from bundles.

    Although – it would be nice if the current 4-screen process for activating a game key could be simplified, and the ability to add multiple keys in one go would be just peachy thanks.

  7. platypusfool says:

    Add a ‘buy now’ button to games on your wishlist. Every time a sale comes around and I buy a bunch off my list I have to click to go each game’s store page individually when I should be able to add them all from the wishlist then go straight to cart.

    Would also like to see better filtering in the library. I’d like to keep myself a queue of games I’m going to play soon, then have everything else out of the way in lists by genre. That way I could keep games I’m unlikely ever to play buried without having to totally hide them and never see again.

    The changes to the library main screen look good though, the current screens for games are mostly pointless info – again, you have to click to go to store pages if you want to remind yourself what each game looks like in a screenshot or video.

    • pixelprime says:

      I do agree that wish list management could be better, but I think the reason for having no ‘buy now’ button is simply because many games don’t just have a single SKU.

      Consider the vast array of games that have multiple purchasable version (those that include a season pass, special editions or GOTY versions). Which of these would a ‘Buy now’ button be targeting?

      However, I agree that it’d be one improvement in a long list of discrete desired enhancements that improve the purchasing experience overall.

      • Zamn10210 says:

        Well you should just be able to wishlist a particular SKU.

        • that_guy_strife says:

          We are. Everytime you wishlish a item, it’s that particular SKU. For example, some title was pulled from the store to be rereleased with the first DLC as the full, base, game. My wishlist still had the entry for the base game, no DLC – but no price, since it didn’t exist anymore.

          So it would be very easy to add Buy Now to the wishlist. Just maybe a warning that you need X base game for this DLC, or that Y DLC is available for the game you just clicked Buy.

        • Cederic says:

          I’ve got games in my wishlist that have been there for three years.

          In that time new SKUs have been released, so it makes sense to check the options before buying.

          Cynically though, drawing people back to the store page dangles all that lovely DLC in front of them. Which does work on me; one reason I have stuff in my wishlist is because I’m waiting for them to finish the game before I buy it, at which point I’ll buy the whole game thanks.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      The Enhanced Steam browser extension displays an “add to cart” button for each item on the wishlist page.

      Yes, it’s something Steam ought to do in their own client… but until they get around to it, ES has you covered.

  8. Kefren says:

    One of the bugs in Steam I get is that Steam won’t show any of the store pages, or my profile pages. It won’t even show the EULAs I have to agree to (which illustrates how surreal EULAs are). I just get error pages. I reported it to Valve multiple times. They weren’t interested. It would be nice if they fixed it.

    For info, this is what I see for most things in the Steam client: link to

    • MajorLag says:

      IIRC Steam on Windows uses IE for store (and everything but library I think) stuff. So step one would be to make sure IE works properly. If it does, then Steam’s own caching might be to blame. Close Steam completely and delete “C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Steam\htmlcache\Cache\*” and see if that helps.

      • Kefren says:

        Thanks. I’d forgotten IE was even on my PC! I use Firefox with Chrome as a backup. I tested it and IE seems to work fine – I could browse and go to websites. I then deleted all the cache stuff at the path you specified, opened Steam, but it still doesn’t show anything but my games list. I’m guessing it may be a firewall issue. I’ve allowed Steam and my browsers through, but Steam must be trying to do things with other processes that aren’t showing up.

      • TRS-80 says:

        They switched to using an embedded version of Chrome some time ago. @Krefen, can you use the Steam website OK?

        • Kefren says:

          Yes, that’s how I have to browse the store, view my profile etc. Works fine in any of my actual browsers. That’s why I think it’s some part of Steam that isn’t integrated with the main .exe, so isn’t being let through my firewall (which blocks outbound unless I give permission).

          • Premium User Badge

            keithzg says:

            If your firewall for some reason isn’t showing what binary it’s blocking and why, maybe try firing up something like Process Hacker? Seeing process trees can be quite helpful for debugging issues like this, I’ve found.

          • Kefren says:

            Each investigation gets this complicated, and eventually gets nowhere – hence me just accepting Steam is a bit broken!
            My Firewall blocks ALL processes and programs apart from those I explicitly allow (I chose this when I discovered Windows didn’t do that, which sort-of shocked me – I couldn’t believe an OS would let programs secretly send out all sorts of data without even warning you or letting you stop it).

          • MajorLag says:

            Kefren, that’s the default for pretty much all firewalls everywhere, and you can see why: lots of stuff breaks otherwise. If Microsoft implemented outbound blocking as the default, users would just get so used to clicking “allow” all the time that it’d be completely useless anyway.

  9. haldolium says:

    I hope they overhaul that awful integrated browser completely.

    • that_guy_strife says:

      Ah yes. Anyone else doesn’t bother watching videos on Steam ? In my case, they take so long to load & go fullscreen (can’t hide the taskbar though) that it’s faster to just find it on YouTube.

  10. 5thWheel says:

    Being able to switch users outside of Big Picture without having to re-enter my password and then re-authenticate via my phone would be nice.
    Being able to launch Big Picture without it “randomly” crashing, possibly due to some issue it has with my modest music library would be nice (Pro tip Valve: let me just turn this damn feature off, I’ve no interest in integrating Steam with music).
    Some kind of consistency in the way it lets me use my (awful:/) Steam Controller across machines. Making the way XBOX controller can be used to play non-controller games… work.

    But sure. Slides. Good grief.

  11. basilisk says:

    Frankly, the Steam UI needs redoing from the ground up. It’s a mess; for years they’ve been slapping new half-finished features wherever they found some free space and there is no logic to it whatsoever.

    The community pages in particular (not part of the client itself, but related) are javascript spaghetti that tends to break completely whenever it fails to correctly load one of its dozens of tangled components, and that happens fairly often. And of course the built-in browser is very slow at parsing javascript, so using it on the community pages is a pretty painful experience. The store pages are a bit better, but really not by that much. This all needs a complete rethink.

  12. elvirais says:

    Adjustable font size? On a high-res laptop the text is getting pretty hard to read for me.

    • Dezmiatu says:

      This. The client is a tiny print mess for me. I actually have to use the magnifying feature to read it, which is tedious in and of itself.

      • Premium User Badge

        keithzg says:

        I find this a bit confusing, since it’s definitely scaled for me on Windows 10 by the global OS-level scaling (albeit not perfectly, it’s a bit blurry in that way that non-natively-scaled apps are in Windows scaling). I don’t have it scaled on Linux, but that’s also a deliberate choice I’ve made ’cause I like the tiny tiny text ;)

  13. mattevansc3 says:

    The first image looks like Origin and the second one like the Xbox app.

    The Steam UI needs to be updated but there also needs to be a singular vision for continuity purposes and you don’t get that from lifting UI elements from multiple competing platforms.

  14. Vanderdecken says:

    “if you’ve got a large collection and you’re juggling 3 or 4 games, it’s a (very minor) pain to have to keep scrolling between them.”

    Just right-click, Add to Favorites. Then you have all your in-progress games grouped together at the top of the list.

    • MonkeyJug says:

      What if you’ve got almost 400 games in your favourites list?

      • MajorLag says:

        Are you really switching between 400 games frequently? If so, you might want to consult a psychiatrist.

      • Otterley says:

        You might not have found the optimal way to use the favourite list ;)

  15. myfirstme says:

    Support for high resolutions including adjustable font size. Steam looks really outdated on my screen.

    • Paul B says:

      This for me too. Proper Hidpi support for the Steam client – my browser can manage it, so should Steam. I’ve been following this 4-year old thread, for goodness knows how long, waiting for news on this:
      link to

      Hopefully the new UI overhaul is when it’s going to happen.

  16. Crafter says:

    I would like a better quality client.

    Wrapping a web page has advantages .. you spent most of the time on common code shared between web, osx, windows, etc .. but you need to spend way more time than what Steam is doing on polishing it.

    Navigation is so bad on the steam client that I usually go back to the website when I want to browse games.

    I also don’t care about the content of the first page ..
    Most of the time, I just want to go to my library, so adding a recent content carousel there is definitely a good idea.
    Honestly Steam is even late to the party here .. Books & music apps have been doing that for years with extremely good results, so it is a no brainer to do the same on Steam (lack of concurrence seems to make Valve pretty complacent though )

    • Otterley says:

      As far as the first page content is concerned, you can set the view you get on start-up (and when double-clicking the tray icon) in “Settings->Interface->Favorite window”.

  17. Eleriel says:

    As long as they don’t remove the ‘small window view’ I don’t give a toss what they do, honestly.

    Except. Except! Let me hide the damn “VR” category without having the hide the *one* game I have that is forcing its existence.

    • Hardlylikely says:

      Somehow I had never tried this option, thank you! All I really want is to use Steam as a simplistic launcher and auto-updater for my (almost entirely) single player gaming. My use of mods is limited by available time. It’s hard enough to find time to enjoy everything I want to play in it’s vanilla state. The more I can keep the interface clean and ignore all the irrelevant bloat unused features the better.

  18. Sin Vega says:

    They could change it so that whenever I open Steam, I get £5. But of course they won’t, the bastards.

  19. liquidsoap89 says:

    I’ve all but stopped using Steam as a system to navigate through. The only time I open the store is when I open my wishlist (the actual store is an meeting place for pure garbage). I almost exclusively stay in my library (details view, duh!) to not have to deal with any of Steam’s problems.

    Oh, and when people are using Steam in their browser with the EnhancedSteam addon, instead of the software that they’ve installed on their computers… Something has gone terribly wrong.

    So because of that, I’d rather see a performance overhaul than a UI overhaul. Steam is slow, it takes too long to open pages, and to navigate between pages. If they would fix the performance first, I’d be more inclined to use other features outside of the library.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      Oh yea, and having a working recent news popup would be nice too. That window only pops up when I log in to Steam, so if I’m putting my computer to sleep at night I don’t get any updates. Then when I actually shut my computer down and turn it on again, I end up with 8 or 9 already outdated bits of information.

      That’s of course ignoring the fact that usually over half of those pages don’t load correctly and I’m just shown a giant X. So the “news” they’re showing me late is really just them saying “hey, SOMETHING happened recently… But we’re not gonna tell you!”

  20. GomezTheChimp says:

    I can`t even buy games through the client. I have to use my browser.

  21. Generico says:

    If they don’t include high DPI support I don’t care what else they add, it will be a worthless update. It doesn’t actually need anything else, but it is literally useless at 4k on smaller screens.

    • GAmbrose says:

      At the moment, Big Picture mode doesn’t support anything higher than 1080p, which is pretty backwards.

  22. Buuurr says:

    Anything is better than the status quo. I hope they change the way the store displays things as well. I don’t know how many times I have selected in my queue that I do not care for indie or flight sim games (it is over 400) but keep on getting that crap.

    • davec1 says:

      According to the Discovery Queue FAQ marking a game with Not Interested won’t affect them showing you similar games. Instead, to do that, you can customize the Discovery Queue with tags you want to exclude (e.g. “indie”, “flight sim”)

  23. racccoon says:

    30mins play Refund! 120 mins play Refund! 80mins play refund!
    I set a record for my best refund yet! ( i hate Steam) 2hrs 40mins of play. Refund!!
    It also seems that a lot of steam buyers are amassing the same! during the last “sale” over 300,000 refunds processed!
    Keep up the good work.

    Maybe the game devs will get the hint!
    Make working complete games & then try & sell it!!
    GIVE US DEMOS ya silly nags! lol

    • ThePuzzler says:

      Demos are probably a good way to lose money in the modern market. The best hope for a lot of games is that someone makes an impulse purchase and then can’t be bothered to get a refund even though they either never play more than ten minutes, or never bother installing it in the first place. If there’s a demo, you’re less likely to make that impulse purchase, because the sensible thing to do is to try it out for free first.

      • April March says:

        Someone who’ll make an impulse purchase without checking if a game is to their liking, or if its publishers are reliable, or what reviews said etc etc etc etc is also likely to not bother playing a demo.

        Of course, a demo might be right there in front of potential buyers when they open your Steam page. What I’d selfishly suggest is for devs to have demos on their personal pages, and not on Steam…

  24. lyralamperouge says:

    If there isn’t a way to natively embiggen font without it resetting every update, I’m going back to pirating very soon.

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      Can’t you invoke per-application scaling? I swear I remember you could these days in Windows (if you happen to be on Linux you definitely can, but the mention of piracy makes me suspect you aren’t).

  25. Booker says:

    ” if you’ve got a large collection and you’re juggling 3 or 4 games, it’s a (very minor) pain to have to keep scrolling between them.”

    I have too many games (bundles) unlocked in my account and yet I have zero problems with finding the game I want right away, because Steam always allowed to only display the installed games. So I honestly do not understand this notion at all. It’s not like the typical user would be able to install hundreds of games simultaneously anyway, since we are at 80 GB per game.

  26. somnolentsurfer says:

    Plenty of good suggestions in here, but no one seems to have mentioned the awful Mac version yet. Please make it less slow. Please make it behave like a Mac app, with proper full screen mode, and consistently working keyboard shortcuts. Please make it reestablish network connectivity properly after putting the MacBook in standby, and not log me out until I restart the client.

  27. skyfire322 says:

    Two things that I hope change:
    -Getting rid of the endless scroll for recommendations, and recommendations that have nothing to do with a game I played (ie anime story games because I played Dishonored)

    -Instead of browser links opening up in a new window, just add tabs. It would be especially helpful for games that you want to mod.

    • Booker says:

      As far as I know, these recs are created by taking into account what other Dishonored players have played. In other words, this isn’t going to change.

  28. Eery Petrol says:

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a ‘hold A to launch’ function for Steam Big Picture Mode. The triple tap to ‘select game page > select play page > launch game’ is less elegant than it can be.

  29. rocketman71 says:

    Not having much faith in this. The Valve people clearly don’t know how to do interfaces.

    OOMH, three things that Steam is sorely missing:

    – Tabs
    – Ability to rename the games to our liking (fuck your Civ 5, Civ VI, and with all respect to Sid, fuck your “Sid Meier’s”)
    – Ability to double click and play the game. The launcher is useful the first time, and it also would be nice to be able to access it later, but don’t ask me if I want to load the game or the launcher every single time after. I WANT TO LAUNCH THE GAME, DAMMIT!. And you should know it.

    Not that Valve is going to give a shit. They are too busy counting money.