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Steam launches new Friends and Discordian chat

Valve have dragged the Steam client’s chatting out of the noughties and into the early tensies with the launch of its new chat update, which looks to borrow more than a few ideas from smash-hit chat client Discord. Steamers can now create group chats on the fly, see GIFs and YouTube videos and Soundcloud tunes and so on embedded in chats, add extra voice and chat channels to group chats whenever, and so on. It’s like Discord, but built into Steam. After entering public beta testing in June, the new chat launched properly in Steam last night.

As Valve explain in detail on its subsite, the new chat broadly makes Steam’s chat less clunky and 2003-ish (god, I’ve just remembered the long years where Friends did not work at all). You can easily add more people to chats, invite people to calls, have big chats with multiple channels like a Discord server, see on your Friends list when pals are grouped together, and more. Steam’s chat has always been awkward, without convenient features you might expect and missing obvious ways to tie into all the social data Steam has access to. This improves a lot of that.

And, yes, you may now see in-line a series of pictures displayed for sufficiently short intervals to suggest motion:

The new chat is usable in browsers too.

I tried the beta for a bit then opted out because it broke Steam Overlay screenshots for some games, and I didn’t use any of the new features anyway. I still have no present use for many of the additions, but the screenshot bug seems fixed and hey I’ve no choice now anyway. While most my gamepals are entrenched in Discord servers, I do appreciate having extra options – especially if it doesn’t requiring explaining Discord to someone new. As much as I grumbled about Steam bloat in the Half-Life days when my PC had 32MB of RAM that Steam made big demands of, I have bits coming out my ears these days and the impact seems minimal.

Valve note that they also have “already started working on … a new Steam chat mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.”

The Steam Input control options doodad gets some attention in this update too. It now has more configuration options for console controllers including PlayStation 3 & 4, Switch Pro, and even NES-style, and “support for over 100 new generic gamepads, 40 PS3 controllers, and 15 Xbox controllers”.

See the Steam client patch notes for more on all this.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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