Games are more social than ever: some of the most popular titles are multiplayer-only, thousands of people chat while they watch a streamer play, and platforms like Discord are based around gaming communities. So it made sense when Valve released a new Steam Chat app for iOS and Android yesterday.
Over the last year, Steam Chat seemed, from the outside, like an afterthought to being a prima. The service was refreshed in July 2018 with support for in-line media, multiple channels, and a “rich presence” feature that automatically lets people know what their friends are doing in-game, among other things.
Valve announced in July 2018 that it was working on a version of Steam Chat for iOS and Android. It finally debuted on May 21--nearly a year after the desktop version was refreshed--but the company’s work on the app still wasn’t finished. The company said in its blog post that it had yet to bring voice chat to Steam Chat for iOS and Android, and even though it’s working on the feature, it didn’t say when it would be ready.
The rest of the Steam Chat experience is there. Valve divided the app into three main sections: Friends, Chats and Groups. All of them work about like you’d expect. Friends offers a complete list of Steam contacts along with their current status, what they’re playing, and when they were last online. Chats shows recent conversations with individuals; Groups collects all the conversations with (you guessed it) groups.
Valve said that making Steam Chat its own app will let it improve the main Steam Mobile app as well. “With Steam Chat moving to its own dedicated app, the original Steam Mobile app will see significant upgrades focused on account security,” it said. “Our plans include better Steam Guard options to help securely log into your Steam account, such as QR codes and one-touch login, and improved app navigation.”
We’ve reached out to Valve for more information about how many people are using Steam Chat, what else it has planned for its mobile apps in the near future, and more. We’ll update this story if the company responds. In the meantime, at least the mobile version of Steam Chat is now available for the people who’ve been waiting almost a year for it, and the experience should be fine as long as they don’t need voice chat.