Log into Steam this morning and you’ll notice that the Chat functionality has been overhauled.
Valve has rolled out an update for Steam Chat that not only gives the service a new lick of paint but introduces new functionality.
For one, gamers can now select favourite friends and chat groups and move them to the top of the Chat panel so they can access them more easily.
Your friends list will now also be grouped according to the games your mates are playing. That means that if five friends are playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive you will see all of those friends in the same area on your friends list.
Speaking of the friends list and games, you’ll now get more fine-grained information about the games you are playing. This does seem to be dependent on the developer allowing information to be accessible to Steam but in Valve’s example you’re able to see whether a friend is playing a game of Dota 2 or simply sitting in the menus.
There are many changes to the chat functionality and it’s hard not to draw comparisons to Discord. Chats can now have tweets, video, GIFs and more embedded in-line, invites to group chats can be sent via a shareable link, even voice chat has been overhauled.
All of this functionality is available through the Steam desktop application as well as via the website which is nice.
Of course the first thing we wanted to know after seeing these changes to chat is when the Steam client would be getting an overhaul. To call it drab is an understatement so it’s good to know that Valve plans to improve other parts of the client as well.
“Friends and chat are just the beginning. This update was built using a new UI framework and includes some important architectural improvements under the hood, all of which allow us to make more frequent updates to our web-based Steam components. There are many improvements to the overall Steam experience that we plan to tackle, and your feedback helps us to prioritize what’s next,” said the firm.
For now though Steam Chat is better, whether folks will use it in place of services like Discord however, remains to be seen.