Steam Chat overhaul drags it into the modern day

Group chats, embedded multimedia, and an invisible mode are among the new features coming to Steam’s Chat in a long-overdue overhaul, Valve announced today. The new style will drag the barebones chat client out of the 90s and into the Discord era, and you can try it in the public beta test right now. Just imagine: creating new group chats and voice channels as you please; the Friends list showing in-game parties; GIFs and videos and such appearing embedded in chats; and inviting people to group chats with a link. Ooh it’s like modern software or something!

You can create ad-hoc group chats with multiple text and voice channels starting simply by dragging people into a chat. Text chats now show link previews and embed media including YouTube videos, tweets, and Twitch streams. The /giphy command hooks into those ha-ha-hilarious repositories of GIFs. You can even do /me emotes like the good ol’ days.

Basically, the new Steam Chat covers just about everything I use Discord for. I don’t plan to swap over, as I followed people more than the service, but it’s good to have options.

Voice chat is updated too, and now relayed through Steam’s servers so it doesn’t reveal your IP address. And the whole voice chat feature isn’t hidden away, now integrated into sensible places.

The new Steam Friends list groups people by the game they’re playing, and shows if they’re in parties together as well as where they are in a game (in games which are updated to support this, anyway). And you can save favourite pals by dragging them to the top for easy access.

Ah, go look at Valve’s page for more on everything. I think I once would’ve been annoyed by Valve cluttering Steam Chat with features I might not use but hell, we’re probably a good few years past that point as other chat clients have evolved such much and Steam’s has stayed so barebones.

Valve are currently testing the new Steam Chat in a public beta, which you can opt into through the client’s beta options or simply by clicking this link.

“Once we’re confident that things are working as they should, and we’ve finished up some of the features we have planned,” they say, “we’ll flip the switch to release all of the new features to everyone on Steam.”

The browser-based Chat is updated too. See for yourself.

38 Comments

  1. battles_atlas says:

    Given discord already exists, I’d personally be more stoked if they dragged the browser out of the 14th century. Tabs and for the love of god zoom controls please.

  2. LoverOfChickens says:

    Still can’t change the font or window color??!

  3. Halk says:

    The minimalistic friend list and chat was all I needed. Now it uses three times as much space.

  4. Don Reba says:

    That purple blob is shouting НЕТ (NO, in Russian), for some reason.

  5. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Definitely not giving Steam a pass, but I feel like the criticism is a little hypocritical, given that we have to use BBcode just to add a link or format text on RPS.

    • BooleanBob says:

      The RPS comment system also needs dragging out the 90s.. the 1890s.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Aye sorry about that, I keep meaning to code a new comment system but I’ve had a lot on.

      • cardigait says:

        have you considered swapping to Disqus ?
        i use many sites where it works and saw the code behind some of them.
        It’s a breeze to implement, surely it’s not perfect, but is (sincerely) much better than this one, and would require very little tech work.
        (not thinking about migrating users and old comments btw, just my two cents)

        • Cederic says:

          ..and requires you to sign up with Disqus, who I don’t trust with my credentials for a moment.

          • cardigait says:

            eh, my credential on disqus are as cardigait, rapunzel and some others i’ve lost.
            i think i can give my trust on those precious information.

            (you’re not required to allow access to your google-facebook-other account whatsoever)

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Oy, I like my RPS comments just the way they are: minimal HTML knowledge required for formatting, no popularity contests, and a thrilling race against a 5 minute timer to squeeze in all my compulsive editing sessions. (Okay, the first one was slightly sarcastic.)

      (I’m not shaking my fist at you since we agree on the formatting front, but I do like the other two elderly bits. :) )

    • fish99 says:

      I just want RPS to consistently go back to the same page when I log in.

  6. nimbulan says:

    It also dragged my CPU out into a back alley and beat it to death… Seriously the CPU usage of the new chat system is completely out of control. I had to go back to the non-beta client to prevent games from lagging.

    • FrumiousBandersnatch says:

      Well that’s what “modern software” and “dragging it out of the 90s” mean. I see you haven’t been reading between the lines!

  7. racccoon says:

    steam = copycats

  8. edwardoka says:

    Valve: “We’ve listened to our fans and are confident that we’ve delivered what you want”
    Steam users: “Hooray, you’re taking responsibility for and actively managing the games sold on your storefront?”
    Valve: “no, not that”
    Linux Steam users: “Hooray, you’ve made it so that the overlay doesn’t crash whatever game I’m in?”
    Valve: “lol no”
    Everyone else: “Half-Life 3…?”
    Valve: “No, we’ve turned our chat into a Discord clone and are also adding a Battle Royale mode to TF2”

  9. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    Steam has ‘chat’? I never knew that! Is that something that involves interacting with other real humans? But I play vidya games to escape from them. Especially toxic 14 year old male ones who spend half their time inventing new ways to write abhorrent racial slurs to get around the moderation algorithms.

  10. montfalcon says:

    I do not want other people in my videogames, and I sure do not want them in my steam client

  11. Faxanadu says:

    Nice, even more good news from valve. No wasting resources on dead operating systems, no fascist moderating policies, and now we get a nifty chat. I like this company.

  12. MajorLag says:

    As a curmudgeon, I’m going to yell at this particular cloud for being over-engineered. Then again, I don’t use Steam as a social media platform anyway.

  13. trankzen says:

    I tested it yesterday. Very nice but not exactly there yet. I’ve been looking forward to getting rid of Discord / Teamspeak et all in favor of something more integrated, so this is perfect (or rather will be, when it’s out of beta)

  14. Koozer says:

    There I was all ready to write a snarky comment about GIFs and uninstalling Steam, then I read they were bringing /me back and all is forgiven.

  15. welverin says:

    Wait, how did they sneakily outsource that to the community without it leaking before now?

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>