Steam’s new chat interface is full of new features, and you can try out the beta now.
Valve has added a more secure voice chat and a better way to organize your friends list in the all-new Steam Chat. Friends can now be grouped however users want, which means they can group their friends by games they play together or groups with similar interests for general chatting. To bring a new friend into a group conversation, it’s as easy as dragging and dropping from the friends list into the group chat box.
The new voice chat will allow users to see with a quick glance who on their friends list is talking, and quickly join them in an encrypted voice channel.
“Steam voice chat was rewritten from the ground up with a new WebRTC-based backend,” Valve reports on the official webpage for Steam Chat. “As a result, voice chat uses high quality Opus encoding, voice traffic is encrypted, and all traffic is sent through Steam servers rather than directly to peers. This keeps your IP address private, which masks your physical location and also prevents network attacks.”
In addition, media shared in chats will show up directly in the conversation, including GIFs and tweets, instead of just links. The new features are available in the Steam client and when Steam is open in web browsers, which means conversations can be continued from web browser access instead of having to load up the Steam client.
The standard Steam chat functions were pretty basic and left much to be desired, leading some online gamers to use Discord or in-game chat functions instead. Steam users ready to give the new Chat a try can opt in to the beta under their account page right away. Valve has noted that users who aren’t in the beta will not be able to join beta users’ group chats.