A Look at Steam’s New Beta Client

15 years later and now we have this

Valve Corporation officially launched their Steam Client in 2003. Now, it’s approximately 14 years later and they have finally updated it to work as a proper client. Let’s look at the changes they’ve made to our favorite online game service.

This new Beta introduces a Chat Client that saves old messages between you and others. That was my biggest pet peeve with the old Client. A friend would always send me links to articles which I forget to return to and the messages wipe as a result. It’s amazing how little functions the Chat had prior to the Beta because everything I’m mentioning was already available on every other Chat Client I can think of. Valve added the option to directly use emoticons and send files to others. They’re just a few years behind everybody else, no big deal.

In the Friends List tab, Steam will now provide Beta updates on the latest overall changes to the client. Now, it is possible to drag Friends you interact with often, to the top of the list for easy access. By hovering over each Friend, you can view their most notable achievement and their Steam Level. When a Friend is playing a game, the cover image for that game is visible. Minor changes but it’s the little things that count, right?

The new icon for showing a Friend is away is the “ZZZ” over their profile picture. I appreciate these little interface changes. Furthermore, you can now add and search for Friends from the Friends List tab.

Click on the Gear icon to access the Friends List Settings tab. Here, you can access pages such as General, Notifications and Voice. In General, you can set up how you interact with your Friends and how they are organized in the client. As for the Notifications, this section allows you to specify when you receive a notification. Then in Voice, you configure your microphone along with the volume settings.

One of the exciting new features of the Beta is that we now have access to group chats through the Friends List. You can either start a new Group Chat with friends or join one within a Steam group accessible through the Groups page under the Profile tab. Simply select a group you are already apart of or search for a new Group. It’s also possible to create a group of your own if you can’t find any for you.

Other changes to the Steam Client were reported recently but are currently not in place. It is said to look very similar to the Discord Gaming Chat Client. The games that people are playing will be displayed on the side of the main interface of the Steam program. With this, instead of Steam requiring several tabs of information to access everything, there will be just one main tab where all main operations are running prior to booting the game.

As previously mentioned, I take special note of the new interface and design choices for the new Client. It’s considerably cleaner and more pleasing to look at. I know those aren’t always details we’re worrying about when attempting to play games, but it helps.

Valve is taking their product into a good direction even though they are lagging way behind everybody else in the gaming industry, and technology in general. I’m excited to see where they will go with their Discord-inspired Client. But with progress here likely means that many PC gamers from Discord will abandon that application for this one. But who knows, with the pace that Valve is working at. I wish both companies the best of luck moving forward.

Lindsay Schubert

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