What just happened? In an effort to reduce strain on the internet and help gamers manage their home bandwidth during the ongoing pandemic, Steam has announced some changes to its game auto-update schedule, which will now kick in normally for only those games that you've played within the last 3 days, while content for others would be downloaded during your next off-peak local time period.
Steam generates a considerable amount of internet traffic, and with the service setting new concurrent user records almost every week, it too has made some adjustments on how it will deliver content to gamers, specifically, titles set to auto-update that haven't been played recently.
In its official blog post, the company reminds players about managing their home's internet bandwidth, at a time when most people are keeping indoors and sharing this resource to work, stream, play and stay connected.
It goes on to mention that auto-updates for games not played recently will be scheduled "for the next off-peak local time period," meaning that your game library will now be updated less frequently. "Only games played within the last 3 days will be updated immediately," notes Steam, adding that players can still manually trigger an update for a game they wish to play, through the Download Manager.
There's also the Steam client's in-built throttling and scheduling features, something which advanced users are already well-aware of, and are worth checking out for optimizing internet usage. These include various options under Steam>Settings>Downloads for restricting game auto-updates to suitable time periods and limiting the client's bandwidth to reduce stress on your home internet.
Players are also encouraged to disable auto-updates for games played less frequently, and to utilize HDD space for storing such items by shifting entire Library Folders or individual games from SSDs, instead of deleting and redownloading them in the future.