Valve is officially bringing Steam to China with the help of game and movie company Perfect World, it announced Monday. The gaming company just announced Steam Chat, which is now in beta for anyone to try. You can now add favourite friends, groups, and chats to the top of the chat window for easy access. It's free. You don't have to chat like it's 2004. Your friends are now grouped together based on what game they're playing, whether or not they're currently in a game with each other, and their presence in one of your group chats. Plus, all chats now display images, videos, tweets, and links inline in a rich, attractive way.
"Every chat on Steam is now multimedia friendly", Steam's page states, meaning you'll be able to share GIFs, videos from YouTube, audio from SoundCloud and more within the chat itself.
The new features are only available for those in the beta. Soon, the AOL-esque chat of yore will be gone, replaced by the slick, fancy Discord chat of the present. All traffic will be sent through Stream servers rather than be directed individually to peers, meaning user IP address will remain private, keeping the possibility of network attacks minimal, as physical locations are masked.
A preview of the Steam Chat platform. Screenshot by Gordon Gottsegen CNET
Steam Chat is available to trial now and is in beta on both the desktop client and in your web browser. The company said that the "new UI framework" and "important architectural improvements under the hood" will allow it to improve aspects of the core Steam experience once the new Steam Chat makes its debut.
This Steam Chat update looks a lot like Discord, another gaming-centric chat platform which has been called the "Slack for gamers."