Steam! We use it every day, sometimes all day, but as functional as it is, it has also — for much of its now decades-long lifespan — looked like arse. That’s something Valve were looking to address in a big new update that’s rolling out worldwide right now, and it’s something they’ve largely succeeded in. 3
The changes aren’t enormous, since structurally the desktop program works in much the same way. Indeed the first and most major tweak you might notice are the new fonts, along with “updated dialogs, menus and colours”. But the real changes come under the hood, with the popularity of Steam Deck seemingly forcing Valve to come up with a version of their service that could be updated across all four platforms — desktop, Steam Deck, Big Picture and mobile — instead of one at a time.
The most impactful changes in this update aren’t immediately visible; much of the work went into changing how we share code across the Steam Desktop Client, Big Picture mode, and Steam Deck. These changes also means quicker implementation and iteration of new features. For example, many of the features in this update (like Notes in the overlay) are simultaneously shipping on Steam Deck because of the shared codebase.
Another area of improvement is Steam’s notification system, which heavy users will know was always a pain in the arse since it would always be showing something new, and most of the time it was something you didn’t really need to know. Now notifications are being broken up:
Steam notifications have been updated and improved to be more useful to you. The green bell only lights up when there’s truly something new for you. The tray view is limited to new notifications, and there’s a “View all” page with a historical view. We’ve also added new notifications specific settings, so you can control the notifications you’ll see, and where you’ll see them.
Maybe the biggest change, though, comes in the in-game overlay, which has been completely redesigned, can now have elements “pinned” so that they’re always visible while playing (and have their opacity adjusted accordingly) and there’s even a new notes section so you can jot stuff down while playing without ever leaving the game.
Like I said, this update is rolling out now, and since most of us now have it — spread across the US and the world as we are — if you don’t already have it you should be getting it soon.