Preview of Team Fortress 2 Game Hub now accessible for all
August 16, 2012--Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the launch of a limited access Beta for its new Steam Community features.
The Steam Community Beta is now open to the first 50,000 players who earned the 'Pillar of the Steam Community' badge and includes another invite to share. Beta access will increase incrementally until the public launch.
To celebrate the launch of Team Fortress 2's new game mode, Mann vs. Machine, the Team Fortress 2 Game Hub is now accessible to everyone.
The new Steam Community update includes: Game Hubs - Every game on Steam now has a Game Hub, which provides a quick way for users to browse the best of a variety of content as rated by the community at large. Each Game Hub also includes a game-specific discussion area where players can talk about their favorite Steam games.
Group Updates - Player-created groups have been redesigned so it's now easier to see what a group is all about and who is participating in it. Groups now also include public and private discussion areas where they can remain in touch with their own communities.
My Content Updates - The content you've created now lives in one central place with new viewing options including an "image wall" layout that showcases your top-rated content. Also new is the ability to mark screenshots, videos, and workshop items as Favorites to save or share with friends.
Friend Activity - The new feed makes it easy to view, rate, and comment on the content and activities of your friends in a visually-rich and interactive presentation. Players can also broadcast game-specific status updates to start a conversation with their friends, directly in the activity feed.
Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC and Mac games with over 40 million accounts around the world and over 2,000 titles offered.
This time around there are a number of changes reflected in both documents including the opening of a new Valve office in Luxembourg to better serve our EU customers and partners. If you live in the EU, your SSA will be with our Luxembourg subsidiary Valve S.a.r.l. and the SSA has been amended to reflect additional terms specific to our EU customers. We've added other terms related to the Steam Wallet and Steam trading to accommodate new features and capabilities of Steam.
Were also introducing a new dispute resolution process that will benefit you and Valve. Recently, a number of companies have created similar provisions which have generated lots of discussion from customers and communities, and weve been following these discussions closely. On Steam, whenever a customer is unhappy with any transaction, our first goal is to resolve things as quickly as possible through the normal customer support process. However in those instances in which we can't resolve a dispute, we've outlined a new required process whereby we agree to use arbitration or small claims court to resolve the dispute. In the arbitration process, Valve will reimburse your costs of the arbitration for claims under a certain amount. Reimbursement by Valve is provided regardless of the arbitrators decision, provided that the arbitrator does not determine the claim to be frivolous or the costs unreasonable.
Most significant to the new dispute resolution terms is that customers may now only bring individual claims, not class action claims. We considered this change very carefully. Its clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers. In far too many cases however, class actions dont provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims. Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities. We think this new dispute resolution process is faster and better for you and Valve while avoiding unnecessary costs, and that it will therefore benefit the community as a whole.
Thanks for reading through our thoughts on these updates and for your continued use of Steam.
There are those who say its much better to give than to receive. For the rest of us, the greatest gift is gifts. And now its easier than ever to receive gifts, or even, if you must, give them. In your inventory youll find a new Pending Gifts tab where you can view gifts offered to you and gifts youve offered to your friends. You can accept a gift to add to your game library or store in your inventory for later on both the web and in the Steam client.
And to ensure you dont miss a gift, a new item in your inventory, or a friend invite, theres now a notification flag at the top of the Steam client that lets you know you have things to act on and quick links to get you there.
Over the years, Steam has delivered a lot of bits to a lot of people. Delivering content is really at the core of Steam, and we have been working on improving that core. As of today, you can download some of the content on Steam using all-new server and client code to get the job done.
The new content system is designed to do two things: deliver better download rates in more places around the world, and also to simply streamline the publishing process on Steam, ultimately making it possible to ship more games than we would have been able to with the old system.
The maximum aggregate bandwidth of the system will be greater than the current system; this will help us satisfy spikes in demand when theres a big release. 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.
Another way that the new content system improves the bandwidth picture is by requiring each user to download less data. With the Steam content system thats been in place for a few years now, if an individual file on disk were modified by a game update, your client had to download the whole file. That can be painful when the file in question is really large. The new system supports delivering only the differences between the old and new files, meaning game updates will be much smaller overall.
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.
In addition, the new content system will allow us to build several new features that weve often heard requested. Upcoming client releases will include things like download scheduling, bandwidth throttling, and prioritizing which games get downloaded first. Youll also be able to download an update to a game while youre playing that game; Steam will apply the update after you exit the game.
Over time, more and more of the content on Steam will be delivered using this new system. Soon, Dota 2 will be delivered using it. In the meantime, if youd like to try out this new content system you can do so right now; if you download a 1280x720 (HD) trailer from the store, it will happen via the new content system. Give it a try!
Steam's voice chat system now leverages the SILK audio codec, developed and used by Skype, makers of the world's most popular voice communication service. The SILK codec provides a significant quality improvement over Steam's previous voice technology, at the cost of some increase in bandwidth usage. Steam Voice used to require 15 kbps of bandwidth, whereas SILK is a dynamic bit rate protocol which varies in its use of bandwidth between 8 and 30 kbps, depending on the range of data in the voice signal and current network conditions.
As of today's Steam client update, voice chat using SILK is available to all users of Steam. To start using Steam chat with SILK, simply click the 'Start Voice Chat' button within a friend or group chat on Steam. You can access chat from both the friends list at the desktop, or while in game using Steams in-game overlay. You'll find voice chat connectivity and reliability have also been improved with this release.
Steam chat with SILK is now also automatically available for all games that take advantage of the Steamworks Voice API. Valve's own Portal 2, set to release in mid-April, uses this newly updated system to enable voice chat in its cooperative gameplay mode.
As a Steam account holder, you can now take advantage of Steam Guard, a new feature of Steam that enables an additional level of account security. Your account may already be protected by Steam Guard, as the new feature automatically begins protecting your account once you've verified your email address with Steam.
With Steam Guard enabled, anyone attempting to login as you from an unrecognized computer or browser must first provide additional, one-time authorization. A special access code will be sent to your contact email address, and this code must be entered into Steam before your first login on an unfamiliar computer is complete. You will also be notified if any login attempts from computers other than those you've authorized occur. Steam Guard essentially acts as a form of "User Rights Management," where you as the user have greater control over access to your stuff.
Steam Guard, a new Steam account security feature offering two-factor authentication, is now available in beta. As a Steam account holder, you can now take advantage of this additional level of account security, further prohibiting others from gaining access to your account.
As a beta participant, once you've verified your email address with Steam, Steam Guard becomes available for your use and is enabled for your Steam account by default.
With Steam Guard enabled, anyone attempting to login as you from an unrecognized computer must first provide additional, one-time authorization. A special access code will be sent to your contact email address, and this code must be entered into Steam before your first login on an unfamiliar computer is complete. You will also be notified if any login attempts from computers other than those you've authorized occur. Steam Guard essentially acts as a form of "User Rights Management," where you as the user have greater control over access to your stuff.
"Account phishing and hijacking are our top support issues," said Gabe Newell, President of Valve. "With Steam Guard, we've taken a big step towards giving customers the account security they need as they purchase more and more digital goods."
Gabe demonstrated further development of Steam Guard today at the CeBIT computing trade show in Hannover, Germany. In addition to email-based authentication, Steam Guard will soon offer other forms of secondary authentication, such as Intel® Identity Protection Technology, a hardware-based security feature available with the new 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ and Core™ vPro® processors. With IPT, secondary authentication is effortless, as it is provided by the chipset itself.
To opt into the latest Steam client beta and begin protecting your account with Steam Guard, launch the Steam client and visit Steam Settings' Account tab, then changing your beta participation to Steam Update.
Steam just made it easier to take and share screenshots of your favorite games.
Press your hotkey (F12 by default) while in any game that runs the Steam Overlay to take screenshots. Then publish them to your Steam Community profile as well as Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit to share them with your friends.
With 1GB of personal Steam Cloud storage, you can upload thousands of screenshots to show off your best moments for all your friends to see. Or you can make them private if you'd rather keep them to yourself.
Use the new screenshot manager to upload your screenshots while still in the game, or at a later time. You can customize your screenshot hotkey by visiting the In-Game section of Steam settings.
To give the new screenshots feature a try, just restart Steam to get the latest client update.
Steam screenshots are now available in beta. Now players can use Steam to take and share screenshots from any game that runs the Steam overlay. If youd like to help test the feature, please opt-in to the latest Steam client beta by going to Steam > Settings > Account then changing your beta participation to Beta Update.
Once youve signed up for the beta, press F12 in any game to take a screenshot. Screenshots are automatically uploaded to the Steam Cloud after exiting the game, or can be manually uploaded while playing through the in-game overlay. Screenshots can be managed through the Steam Community web site and can be published to your profile to share with your friends. Games that use DirectX 8 and earlier are not yet supported.
You can adjust the screenshot hotkey by visiting the In-Game section of Steam settings. If you prefer to not have your screenshots automatically upload to the Steam Cloud, you can set this in the Downloads + Cloud section of settings. Currently in the works is an interface that will allow you to manage your local collection of screenshots and choose which ones to delete or upload to the cloud manually.
The feature is still a work-in-progress while in beta and well be fine-tuning it over the next couple of weeks. Please visit the Steam Screenshots thread in the Steam Forums to point out bugs, suggest improvements or provide general feedback
By now were all used to having computers tell us what they think well like. If youre like us, some internet-retail superbrain has decided that youre very interested in anything to do with weed killer, because you once accidentally looked at a product page or advertisement for Weed Killer Plus. Well, this week weve made the Steam backend brains smarter about how they compute recommendations, by having them factor in things like which games you actually play (as opposed to just what you own, or what youve looked at). The results are good, but ultimately we think that any such system can only go so far. Because, really, even if the computer gets it right, its still just a computer.
So were harnessing a force much more powerful: your friends. THEY are Steams new recommendation engine. Oh, and so are you.
Steam now lets you share your opinions directly with each other. Tell all your friends why they should really try Call of Duty: Black Ops. Tell Uncle Goose why, for the sake of his mental health, he should probably spend a day in The Undergarden. Or, check out their recommendations for you they know you better than you think. And if your friends havent written any recommendations yet, Steam will still suggest games for you based on what theyve been playing lately. We built it because... we think it just makes sense. Try it out and let us know what you think.
Meanwhile, the Steam Publishing Team has been playing BIT.TRIP BEAT, where the team was vying for top spot on the friends leaderboards until William went ahead and set a seemingly unachievable score. The team has agreed that from now on, they'll conveniently 'forget' to include William the next time they challenge the group to a leaderboard competition.