The new Steam Chat system has been pushed to the client and website according to a news post from the digital game distributor.
Steam has been around for nearly 15 years and the social features have been available for the better part of a decade. There have been incremental improvements in that time, but we've now seen a nigh-complete overhaul of Steam Chat in this update, after a month in beta. These new features bring the platform's chat system closer to offerings by services like Discord and Facebook Messenger.
To start, the Friends List is now split into categories, primarily showing friends who are playing games at the top. Hovering over someone's name will bring up a small pop-up that shows you some basic details about that person. The chat system itself has been upgraded to support the inclusion of in-line images, tweets, video, and other media.
Group chat support has been improved and acts as a more effective long-term solution for speaking with groups of people via the gaming client. Each Group chat acts much like a Discord server, allowing people to add sub-channels and engage in voice communication with people in there. Speaking of voice chat, the protocol for audio communication has also been somewhat improved over the old version - users should expect generally better audio quality as compared to before. You can see all of these improvements in motion on the page detailing these new features.
Aside from these new features being brought to the client, the fresh Steam Chat experience has been replicated on the service's website. All of this stuff is synced up across devices so you won't have to worry about a message from one location not ending up where you're currently using the client. A number of other features have been added to Steam alongside this update; be sure to read the news post for a full rundown.
What do you think of the new Steam Chat experience? Do you think these improvements are for the best or would you have preferred that they keep things simple? Let us know in the comments below!