Valve has announced it is refreshing the appearance and operation of its Steam Library for the first time in years, as it works to fight off strong competition from rival Epic Games in the digital distribution market.
Launched in 2003 and catapulted into the prime spot for digital distribution of gaming titles by being made a mandatory launcher for the company's popular Half-Life 2 first-person shooter, Steam has been under increasing pressure of late thanks to the launch of the Epic Games Store. Valve isn't taking the threat lying down - though, at present, doesn't appear willing to match Epic's pledge to take only a 12 percent cut of revenue nor follow it in signing multi-million-dollar timed exclusivity deals - and in January this year unveiled a wealth of new features coming to the platform. Back in July it added a Steam Labs tab for previewing some of these experimental updates, and now it's ready to roll out the biggest general update of the year: A new Steam Library, the name given to the tab which contains all the purchased and manually-added titles which can be launched via Steam.
'The new Steam library was built with the belief that our libraries are valuable to us – for some customers, they contain more than fifteen years of games. From your absolute favourite AAA title that all your friends are playing, to that solo indie art project that only you seem to love, your Steam library represents your gaming history,' claims Valve's Steam development team in a blog post announcing the update. 'But, a good library shouldn't just be dusty shelves, it has to be a fun place to explore and find whatever it is that you're looking for. Whether you want to keep up to date about what's happening with your games, find a game to play with your friends, or explore what's happening in your game's community, your library should support you.'
The refreshed Steam Library, then, begins with a new landing page defaulting to a gallery-style layout of cover art; this will highlight when games have been updated, when there are game-related events available, and just generally pull in considerably more details about each title.
'Odds are, you've got games in your library that had incredible updates or limited-time events and you never even knew. Well, those days are over. We wanted to strike a balance between an in-library event feature that let you know about all the great things happening with the games you already own without bombarding you with notifications,' the team continues. 'Showcasing these updates is valuable to players and also developers. If you’re a dev, it hasn’t been easy to let someone know that you've just shipped a big update to your game, especially if they've moved on to something else. Now it is. Starting today, developers will have access to all new event creation tools that will feed directly into the new library.
'Not every event needs to be a big update, though. The new event tool gives you the ability to connect with players and share other things like a developer live-stream or a community challenge, or even highlight interesting fan art.'
The refreshed Library will come in beta form initially, with all users able to opt in from September 17th; Valve has not yet confirmed when it plans to send the feature live as the default experience.
February 17 2020 | 09:00