Valve, the company behind massive PC gaming store Steam, is rolling out new voice and text chat to Steam users.
Along with the revamped chat options, Steam users will have access to updated friends list system.
The move is an attempt to compete with Discord, a popular chat platform that has dominated PC gaming.
The updates, dubbed Steam Chat, improve the design and chat versatility. Users can now share GIFs and rich social and video links. Users can also sort friends by favourites, group friends by game and by party and maintain fully-featured group chats. The new group chats resemble Discord servers.
Furthermore, Steam Chat offers built-in voice chat that acts like Discord, complete with popular features like channels and link inviting.
The question however is whether this is too little too late.
In May, Discord turned three and also hit an important milestone. The service boasted 130 million registered users, almost triple what is had the year before. Additionally, an estimated 19 million people used the service daily.
This lead to speculation that the service could dethrone Steam.
“Previously, Steam was invaluable not only because of its storefront but because it facilitated social connections between players,” SuperData research manager Carter Rogers told Variety in June. SuperData is a media intelligence company.
“In 2011, Electronic Arts got flak after breaking away from Steam to form its own storefront, Origin. At the time, players feared a slippery slope of multiple companies leaving Steam, resulting in the need to maintain friends lists across a wide range of platforms. Now, Discord is where gamers’ main friends lists live, not Steam.”
However, Discord has yet to show interest in launching a digital games store. If it did, it would become an instant threat to Steam.
Logically, Valve wants to stop that threat before it exists. The new Steam Chat is Valve’s answer to Discord. The problem is, Discord was created as an answer to the lackluster communication in Steam.
In the six years I’ve been on Steam, I haven’t seen a significant update to chat until now. It’s why my friends and myself moved to Discord — it offered everything we wanted that Steam didn’t have.
Now that we have set ourselves up on Discord, what incentive do we have to move back? My personal group isn’t the only group that will face that question. Not to mention the groups utilizing Discord that aren’t related to Steam, like Pokemon Go raid groups.
Steam Chat looks great, but it might be too late to make a difference.
Source: The Verge