Valve has opened the floodgates on its Steam Community upgrade to the digital delivery platform, giving Steam users a chance to beta test its new social networking capabilities available from within any Steam-based game. Users can opt in to the Community by going to File > Settings > Beta Participation and downloading the latest client update. They’ll then have access to new features like Friends, Groups, Chat (via IM or voice) and Events, allowing gamers to schedule matches and tournaments. The rest of the new beta features are listed in the press release after the jump.
Who’s up for some Counter-Strike tonight?VALVEÂ® OPENS BETA FOR STEAMÂ® COMMUNITY FEATURES
Free Update Connects Friends, Groups, Tournaments and More
August 6, 2007 – The largest update for Steam, a leading online platform for PC games and digital entertainment, is now open for public beta testing. The update, which will be available free of charge, introduces an expansive set of social networking and online multiplayer features to a growing PC platform serving games and digital entertainment to over 13 million accounts.
The new Steam community features are designed to connect gamers with friends and other gamers, create and join groups, and organise matches and tournaments. The initial batch of features rolled out in the beta version include:
. Steam ID. Create a personal profile-complete with a photo or avatar, biographical details, favourites, and more-viewable on the Web and within the Steam client.
. Friends. Add peers to a personal Friends List that shows in real-time who’s online and available to chat or play a game. Accessible from within the Steam client or while playing a game, the Friends List makes it easy to invite friends to chat, play a game, or join a group.
. Groups. Create and join public and private groups comprised of gamers who share a common interest, such as fans of a particular game, map or mod, or competitive teams. The Group Profile page displays information about the group, recent activities, news and announcements, and a schedule of upcoming events. Groups can quickly initiate a text or voice chat; plan a game, tournament, LAN party, or any other event; and track group gameplay statistics.
. Statistics. From both a personal Steam ID or Group profile, users can view a range of gameplay statistics, such as most played games or maps and average playing time.
. Chat. Initiate a chat with friends and groups using integrated instant messaging, text chat, and voice features.
. Events. Schedule matches, tournaments, and in-person gatherings, such as LAN parties. Upcoming events are displayed in both a list and calendar view, and members can receive reminders that help keep everyone on schedule.
The Steam community features may be accessed within the Steam client or from within any game available in the Steam library of games – a growing collection that includes new releases and classic titles from leading publishers and independent developers around the world. Additionally, certain features, such as the user’s Control Panel, Friend’s List, and Groups pages may be accessed and managed using any Web browser.
This upgrade marks the largest extension to the Steam platform since its first commercial release in March 2004. In its three year history, Steam has defined the next generation online gaming platform delivering hundreds of games to millions of users with services such as Guest Passes, Automatic Updates, Free Weekends, and access to purchased games from any PC.
To explore the Steam community features, install the Steam client available at www.steampowered.com. Click the Community tab within the Steam interface to take a tour of the features and create a profile.
Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of games and digital content, and has pioneered its broadband services to over 13 million customers with core and casual games from today’s leading publishers and developers. For more information, please visit www.steamgames.com.
Valve is an entertainment software and technology company founded in 1996 and based in Bellevue, Washington. The company’s portfolio of entertainment properties includes Half-LifeÂ®, Counter-StrikeÂ®, Day of DefeatÂ®, Team FortressÂ® and PortalTM. Valve’s catalogue of products accounts for over 20 million retail units sold worldwide, and over 80% of PC online action gameplay. In addition, Valve is a developer of leading-edge technologies, such as the SourceÂ® game engine and SteamÂ®, a broadband platform for the delivery and management of digital content. For more information, please visit www.valvesoftware.com