I am a Valve and Steam fanboy. I won’t lie; so I am overly optimistic in this new steam chat update features and overview video. Now, they have their faults and that is definitely true about the current beta going on for the new Steam chat and community update as well. Even still, I am pretty excited to see Valve taking a step toward bringing their severely dated chat system up to date. As some of you might remember, when Twitch came out with their desktop app I released a video discussing the potential for it to be the Discord killer and I, as well as many others, didn’t think that it really had a chance. Part of me speculates that the reason for this new Steam chat update is that Valve is planning to revamp and roll out a more marketable streaming service built into the Steam client. I don’t really mid this idea as someone who has been trying to get a stream off the ground for a bit, a new broadcasting service offers new opportunity for lesser known streamers to find an audience.
Even still, I will start out my description on the new Steam chat update features talking about the things that Valve has added that really set a great stage for the future of the platform. Valve has completely revamped the friends list to begin with in the new Steam chat update, this update has added a favorites section that I really like. You used to be able to accomplish a similar implement by creating a group and adding the friends you wanted into that section, but it wasn’t nearly as clean looking or easily accessible compared to the normal friends list. The new Steam update also has added in a new sorting system for your friends list. Firstly, the list is organized by players in game, followed by online friends, away friends just below that, and finally there is a completely separate section that is collapsed by default for offline friends only. Additionally, the new organization system will sort players by game played, meaning that all people in the same game will appear in one section and all players in a different game will appear in the respective section for their game. I don’t really like this organization choice in the steam chat update beta, but imagine they will add an option to shut it off eventually.
Another new feature in the new steam chat is the presence of an Invisible mode which has been massively requested for years and it blows my mind that that hasn’t been implemented prior to this update. Valve also added a section called “Group Chats” at the bottom of the friends list. I think that this section it a little goofy to have there and should be removable if you so please. I believe that the customizable aspects of the new Steam chat will be implemented later in the development cycle after they receive some feedback and update the features accordingly. This group chat section gives way to the potentially best part of the new Steam chat update beta and the exact feature that made me reference the attempt at integrating Discord into Steam. Valve has now implemented a system for creating a group chat with any Steam users containing both text and voice chat channels. These group chats will be immensely useful for when you meet a new player during a video game and want to queue up with them and voice chat outside of the game, but don’t want to leave Steam or give them an invite to your private Discord or Teamspeak.
The new Steam chat update also made it so that hyperlink urls no longer require a click if it is just a dank meme or image of some sort, or even a YouTube video for that matter. The link will embed directly into the chat window so that both the recipient and the sender will see the image without clicking. This is yet another option that should had a toggle switch, maybe even on a friend by friend basis if you have that one friend who likes sending photos of things that are NSFW. I still much prefer the format that the new Steam chat has put in place. That being said, I wish they had an option to send images pasted directly from your clipboard. As long as we are mentioning things I’d like to see, I will make a list:
Larger chat emotes
Text formatting options (spoiler, bold, etc.)
Ability to edit messages after sending
Hotkeys for the mute headset and microphone buttons
Remember when you choose to hide an image in a chat
Improved voice chat quality
These are just some of the things I’d like to see, as I also mentioned some ideas up above too. Overall, I feel like the new Steam chat update beta has proved that Valve is in touch with their clients to some extent and has the potential to really improve the quality of life for their users in a big way if they continue to update their system in ways like this. Let me know what you think of Steam’s take on Discord. You think this could be the final solution for group communication while playing games or would you rather stick with something that offers higher quality voice chat in lieu of the convenience of the all-inclusive new Steam chat update?