Bottom line: Steam's new chat system is finally available to everyone after completing its beta phase. But is it enough to tempt people away from Discord? Either way, Valve says it lays the foundations for future Steam updates.
The overhaul brings an improved, more flexible friends list that lets you keep your favorite friends, groups, and chats right at the top, making them easier to access.
Much like Discord, all users can now create large group chats, separate channels, and persistent text or voice channels within a group. They can also use links to invite friends and share different types of media, including YouTube videos and in-line images. There’s a web-based version that comes with all the same features, if for some reason you can’t or won't use the Steam client.
The chat interface has also been revamped, letting users simply drag and drop friends from the Friends List to send them an invite, and you can even save your group chats with a title and an avatar.
This version of Steam chat that is being released to everyone builds on the beta with several changes and fixes. Valve said it includes “under the hood” architectural improvements that will allow it to make more frequent updates to its web-based Steam components.
Even though it’s PC gaming’s largest digital distribution platform, certain elements of Steam are well overdue an update. Overhauling the chat system is a start, and it will be welcomed by many users, but it remains to be seen how many abandon Discord in favor of Valve’s option.