Why it matters: Users with multiple computers have probably needed to install much of the same software and perhaps the same games across all systems, drastically increasing bandwidth usage. Valve appears to be developing a solution for gamers in this situation.
The creator of SteamDB recently discovered code indicating Valve is working on peer-to-peer Steam game transfers. The feature would let users copy games between PCs on the same local area network (LAN), which is usually faster than downloading and doesn't chew up internet bandwidth.
Djundik speculates that Valve is primarily adding the functionality so Steam Deck owners can copy games to the handheld from their primary PCs without re-downloading from the internet. Users may even be able to skip the decryption process Steam undertakes when installing games.
Local network transfers for games could be invaluable to those with data caps by ensuring they only need to download a game once. It could be even more helpful to developers or other organizations that need to install games on many systems simultaneously. The only other method of moving Steam games without re-downloading them is to back them up on external media, but LAN transfers will likely be much faster.
Valve is seemingly working on peer-to-peer Steam downloads on LAN. pic.twitter.com/o6fXYo7gHK— Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) October 27, 2022
One responder to Djundik confirms that users can already try the feature by changing console variables. He successfully moved a copy of Crusader Kings III from a PC to a Macbook. The transfers are still buggy, however.
Some responders to Djundik drew comparisons to Nintendo's Download Play feature, which let Nintendo DS owners temporarily share games with users who didn't own them for local wireless co-op. Xbox One and Xbox Series console owners can access similar functionality to copy games and apps between Systems wirelessly. PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 have a migration feature, but it only allows users to move all of a system's data, not individual games.
In related news, the Steam beta client recently started letting desktop users try the Steam Deck user interface. To do this, opt into the Steam beta in the settings menu, restart Steam, and then add "-gamepadui" to the target path in a shortcut. Be aware that the new mode doesn't allow switching back to the standard Steam interface without restarting the client.