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Valve announces major overhaul for Steam

New system will feature improvements to game updates and better download rates

Valve will overhaul its Steam distribution platform with new server and client code.

The aim is to streamline the publishing process and provide the service's worldwide users with better download rates.

"The maximum aggregate bandwidth of the system will be greater than the current system; this will help us satisfy spikes in demand when there's a big release," Valve said in a statement.

"We will also be able to send content from more places, to better serve people all around the globe. All the content on the new system is sent via HTTP; this is more firewall-friendly than the current system, and will automatically take advantage of web-caching proxies installed at ISPs."

The overhauled Steam will also require users to download less data for game updates. At present, when an individual file on disk is modified it is necessary to download the whole file again, but the new system will be able to deliver only the difference between the old and new versions.

In addition, the new system will be able to download game updates during play, and apply the changes when the user exits the game.

"These changes have given us an opportunity to write new tools for game developers and content publishers that simplify the process of both publishing and updating a game on Steam. Simplifying the publishing process means it takes the partner and us less time to ship each product, so we can ship more stuff to more users."

Valve is also adding a number of new features in response to requests from its clients. New releases will benefit from bandwidth throttling, download scheduling, and users will be able to prioritise which purchases begin downloading first.

Currently, the only content available through the new system is a high-definition trailer, but Valve will apply the system to more content over time, including the forthcoming Dota 2.

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Latest comments (14)

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 5 years ago
"...and apply the changes when the user exists the game."

Exists? Incepted into the game?

you mean exits? ;)
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Garry Newman Company Director, Facepunch Studios LTD5 years ago
Hoping we can push out our own updates :)
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
How about some changes to the way the friends and groups systems work too whilst you're at it, Valve?

:)

I presume the "download while you play" updates system won't work for online MP games since you'd need to be updated to the version of the MP server you're playing on anyway...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 18th July 2011 2:49pm

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Show all comments (14)
Nick Gunn 3D Artist 5 years ago
Good news. Steam is a great platform that's really impressed me. I use it a lot.
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This is good news (I didn't know Steam downloaded the entire game again for each update though, I could have sworn most of the updates I've got a much smaller than the game).

I hope they put some sort of download scheduler on it so I can have it download overnight so it doesn't contribute to my monthly limit.
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Nick Swallow Studying Technology and Innovation Management, University of Sussex5 years ago
James - I think the "download while you play" system works for textures, models etc rather than any underlying game mechanics. You can do the same thing for World of Warcraft now after just a 200mb download which I still find amazing!
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Anuj Malhotra Studying Business Management, Imperial College London5 years ago


@ sebastian: 'At present, when an individual file on disk is modified it is necessary to download the whole file again, but the new system will be able to deliver only the difference between the old and new versions.'

"File" not the whole game, that would be a ridiculously long process.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anuj Malhotra on 18th July 2011 3:26pm

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Daniel Vardy Studying HND IT, De Montfort University5 years ago
good news, been waiting for some of those features. it is quite evident that the content servers do eventually reach a saturation point when there is a large update and there would always have needed to be an overhaul to the way in which content in delivered to keep with demand. bandwidth throttling and being able to download during play are for me the most useful features, as it means i can download at a slow speed while playing without compromising my online experience.
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Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster5 years ago
@Garry Newman

Firstly you are awesome! Shout outs from Great Barr to Walsall. More importantly GMod Mac?
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
@Nick, I don't see why it'd be limited to those. I mean, it's effectively downloading and then autopatching like the MS OSes do in the background.
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Hector Sanchez Studying Electrical Engineering, University of Rhode Island5 years ago
Is this due to some strong arming from EA? Maybe there'll be a climactic return of Crysis 2 and "just in time" arrival of Battlefield 3.
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Andrew Goulding Director, Brawsome5 years ago
Steam has been the best platform for distribution of our pirate dog point and click adventure - Jolly Rover, better than casual and even adventure game enthusiast stores. I agree with Garry that being able to push out our own content to the servers would relieve a small bottleneck in publishing to Steam, but still, Valve are always surprising me with how quickly they can respond to update requests.

At the moment we're going exclusively with Steam for our next puzzle adventure title - MacGuffin's Curse. Look for it there there this Halloween =0).
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Shaun Farol Studying Computer Information Systems, California Polytechnic State University5 years ago
I can't help but feel that this might be in-part because the increase market pressures from Steam's still minority competition, most notably GameStop-Impulse. I think Steam having a couple rivals is healthy and good all around for the industry. Valve won't be allowed to stagnate if it wants to keep its lead.

I have used both digital distribution platforms and as software Steam is almost clunky in comparison. I mean I love their sales as much as the next guy but their handling of offline mode and their client itself could use some work.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 5 years ago
@ Shaun
You're right, this competition is good. The progress we'll see in the next few years on the digital store front should be astonishing
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