Valve completely overhauls Steam client chat, beta available to try out

Steam Bluish Gray

In a surprise reveal, Valve has pushed out a new Steam beta that completely overhauls Steam chat system, adding brand new features like in-line media viewing, better group chats, and more. You can also save your group chats with a name and avatar, making it easier to come back to them later to pick up the conversation or to play games with those same friends. This feature can be used by developers to implement custom details to be shown off by those playing their games. Game developers will now have the option of including other information in list entries as well, such as where players are located in their game, or whether they're available for matchmaking. Drag some of them together into a chat window to create a new group chat, which can be refined with settings for text and voice channels as well as member permissions.

Finally, Valve said it also made some "improvements" to Steam's voice chat. The company didn't elaborate on the general improvements, but it did say that you can quickly see if your friends are in a voice chat right from your friends list, and that you should notice "clear, crisp voice quality before, during, and after your games". As a result, voice chat uses high-quality Opus encoding, voice traffic is encrypted, and all traffic is sent through Steam servers rather than directly to peers.

Steam Chat is available to trial now and is in beta on both the desktop client and in your web browser.

In many ways, the new Steam Chat resembles the popular voice-chat service Discord, so gamers already using that service will likely be familiar with the functionality already.

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