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Valve Software is finally facing some major challengers in the PC gaming space, and it is planning a number of updates to keep its Steam service competitive. In a blog post today, the company looked back at the platform improvements it made last year. It also provided a list of updates that it is planning to launch in the future. These include fixes that address usability complaints as well as the official Chinese release of Steam.
Steam now has 90 million monthly active users, according to Valve. That’s a huge number. And that customer base is Steam’s best defense against incoming PC gaming store competition from Epic Games and Discord. Valve also confirmed that it has 47 million daily active users, and all of its customers make 1.6 million new purchases each month.
While Epic is peeling developers away from Steam with exclusivity deals and partnerships with Ubisoft, it can’t compete with Steam’s audience size. Epic’s Fortnite has 200 million players, but most of those aren’t on PC. This doesn’t mean Epic cannot afford to scrap and fight for every new install of the Epic Games Store. But it does mean that Valve has a big lead. And it can insulate its leads by improving how Steam functions for normal gaming fans and developers.
So what’s new with Steam?
While covering how it improved its data sharing, community features, and chat, Valve explained that this reflection is important to give it some perspective on what it can do.
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“It helps us better understand what we’ve done and where we should go from here,” reads the Valve blog. “While we feel like we’ve accomplished a lot in 2018, there’s still a ton more work to do, features to build, and hard problems to solve.”
Here’s what Valve is planning:
Store discoverability and library update
Steam has more than 30,000 games in its store, which is enough for you to play one each day for more than 80 years. To ensure you can find more of what you like, Valve is beefing up its machine-learning recommendation engine. It is also looking to improve its curator and broadcasting features.
And after you buy your games, Valve wants to give you a better library. The company wants to bring that experience in line with its Steam Chat user interface.
Valve is still working closely with Chinese publisher Perfect World to launch an official version of Steam in that country. You can currently get a gray-market version of Steam that functions in China, but Valve loves to obey the law.
Valve is also planning to launch an update to its PC Cafe Program. This enables players to get on a system in a PC cafe around the world and access their Steam account. Valve wants to streamline this experience to ensure it works better for everyone involved.
Steam TV, Steam Chat, and more
Valve is also planning to make its Steam TV streaming platform open to all games. This is a Twitch-like service that Valve integrated directly into Steam. And it could reach that huge audience of millions that are opening the software up each and every day.
The company is also making its Steam Trust software open to all games. Steam Trust is a matchmaking program that blocks cheaters in the online shooter Counter-Strike: GO. Now, other developers can use that same tech on Steam.
Finally, Valve will launch a Steam Chat mobile app, and it is updating its Events notifications system to alert you when tournaments and streams are happening.
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