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Valve Details Upcoming Improvements for Steam

Friday Valve said that its digital distribution platform Steam has been revamped with all-new server and client code that improves the core service: content delivery. For users, this supposedly means better download rates in more places around the world. For publishers, this means Steam now offers a streamline publishing process for faster "shipments" of games.

"The maximum aggregate bandwidth of the system will be greater than the current system; this will help us satisfy spikes in demand when there’s a big release," the company said in a blog. "We will also be able to send content from more places, to better serve people all around the globe. All the content on the new system is sent via HTTP; this is more firewall-friendly than the current system, and will automatically take advantage of web-caching proxies installed at ISPs."

Valve said that the updated service now requires each user to download less data than before. "With the Steam content system that’s been in place for a few years now, if an individual file on disk were modified by a game update, your client had to download the whole file," Valve added. "That can be painful when the file in question is really large. The new system supports delivering only the differences between the old and new files, meaning game updates will be much smaller overall."

Thanks to the changes in the server and client code, Valve has created new tools for game developers and content publishers that simplify publishing and updating a game on the platform. Valve also has plans to implement user requests into the service such as download scheduling, bandwidth throttling, and prioritizing which games get downloaded first. Gamers will also be able to download a patch while still playing the game – it will be installed once the player exits.

"Over time, more and more of the content on Steam will be delivered using this new system," Valve said. "Soon, Dota 2 will be delivered using it. In the meantime, if you’d like to try out this new content system you can do so right now; if you download a 1280x720 (HD) trailer from the store, it will happen via the new content system."

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