Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Technology | By Christopher Mann

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

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

Improvements include a simplified "favorites" list that will pin certain friends to the top, an expanded detail set for what each friend is playing and where they are in the game (for instance, sitting on the main menu or facing off in deathmatch), as well as organisational changes, such as grouping friends by the game they're now playing or the party they're in.

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

The new Steam chat revamps how your friends list is organized, with a customizable "favorites" section up top followed by friends grouped up in a party or by which game they're now playing. The gaming company just announced Steam Chat, which is now in beta for anyone to try. To top it off, this updated friends list will also share information about what's happening in their games thanks to a new "rich presence" option for developers. This feature can be used by developers to implement custom details to be shown off by those playing their games.

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Next comes the new group chats.

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In-line images, video, tweets, audio, and other media can now be shared in the chat client, and you'll be able to share trade offer links as well. That isn't a bad thing-Discord has become popular with many gamers because it's one of the best communications platforms out there-but it's hard not to think Valve took a little too much inspiration here. "Persistent groups" and channels are supported, and Valve also promised improved security via "a new WebRTC-based backend". This keeps your IP address private, which masks your physical location and also prevents network attacks. Valve says that Steam Chat will be available to all Steam users in the future. Valve is collecting feedback via this section of its forums.

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This Steam Chat update looks a lot like Discord, another gaming-centric chat platform which has been called the "Slack for gamers."

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