Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Steam finally adds voice chat and flexible friend lists in new beta

Sherri Watson | 13 June, 2018, 18:02

Steam China will provide Chinese gamers and developers with a new way to access Steam's selection of games and entertainment.

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

The very first thing that you may notice is that the chat interface is now detached from the main interface. Pretty much the antithesis of Steam Chat, a clunky and outdated service that's only really used as a last resort. It's not clear if this means other Valve titles won't be available in the region yet, or what that means for the wider library of games on Steam, but it seems likely that in time many of them will be released there.

Other media content is recognized automatically, e.g. videos on YouTube, and embedded so that the content can be viewed directly in the chat window and not by clicking on the link to load an external resource in a web browser.

It is easier to start a voice chat now to get everyone join the same channel within seconds of posting the voice chat link in group chat. This keeps your IP address private, which masks your physical location and also prevents network attacks. Open up a conversation with a friend or a group chat to send and receive messages with text, pictures, video, tweets and voice calls. As the new overhaul is only available in the client to Steam beta users, interested parties will need to go to the client's Settings and opt into the Steam Beta Update in the Accounts tab.

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.