Valve has announced Steam Chat, which upgrades the ability for users to converse with their friends while playing games on Steam.
Performing similarly to Discord, this platform aims to let users compile a friends list that shows what games everyone is playing. Group chats may be formed, which open up conversations with features including the sending of text messages, pictures, videos, tweets, and voice calls.
This service allows for communication while playing Steam games to be easier and interconnected, with no third-party applications being necessary for persistent group communication. Users will merely be responsible for beginning a voice channel and sending out game invites in the form of a link for others to join in.
Channels may be added within any group, either for text or voice, with one simple click. The voice channel features promise to provide clear, crisp quality before, during, and after your games. Voice chat will utilize high-quality Opus encoding, meaning voice traffic will be encrypted, with all traffic sent through Steam servers rather than directly to peers. This keeps user IP addresses private, which will keep individual physical locations locks, protecting from potential network attacks.
These features will be built not only in the Steam client but also on the Steam website, meaning users may continue conversations even after having logged out of their Steam client.
Prospective users may try the beta now. A few hiccups are present in its current state, with the potential inability to chat with users who are not also in the beta at the top of the list. Steam is looking for feeding on this new client, and promise that new features will ship to all Steam users once they're confident that things are working as they should be.
Friends and chat options are just the beginning, with Steam planning for a new UI framework and architectural improvements soon. Valve is welcoming feedback on all of the Steam clients, web-based or not, so that they may begin to prioritize what additions should come next.