Valve Launches Beta for Completely Overhauled Set of Steam Chat Features

Steam's game library via the Steam Link Android app.                  Taylor Martin  CNET

Steam's game library via the Steam Link Android app. Taylor Martin CNET

Valve has released a brand new chat system for Steam, with a bevy of new features including a customizable (and prettier) friends list, group chat options, more seamless voice chatting, an invisible mode, shareable friend request links, and more.

Perfect World CEO Robert H. Xiao said in a press release his company will introduce more games to the Chinese market through Steam China, providing quality content and improving the experience for both gamers and developers.

The chat platform lets you compile a friends list (with features like favorites and group chats) and shows what game everyone is playing.

The new Steam Chat's first improvement comes in the form of an upgraded friends list.

Steam voice chat was rewritten from the ground up with a new WebRTC-based backend.

A preview of the Steam Chat platform.                  Screenshot by Gordon Gottsegen  CNET
A preview of the Steam Chat platform. Screenshot by Gordon Gottsegen CNET

China is now the world's biggest video games market, valued at more than $25 billion in 2016, according to a report from IHS Markit. Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: these new group chats are very similar to Discord's servers.

Channels may be added to group chats in a similar manner that they are in Discord or Slack, with new persistent channels bring added for text or voice chat.

Next comes the new group chats. It is now easy to really create a community using the service, you can send game invites from within groups, and create separate channels within those groups too.

"Every chat on Steam is now multimedia friendly", Steam's page states, meaning you'll be able to share GIFs, videos from YouTube, audio from SoundCloud and more within the chat itself. Valve says that Steam Chat will be available to all Steam users in the future.


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