Valve has announced a new partnership with Chinese video game developer, Perfect World, to release a new version of Steam in China, called Steam China. The gaming company just announced Steam Chat, which is now in beta for anyone to try. While in that mode, you can see your friends (and enemies) and chat just like normal, without so many people chatting at you that you spill your tea into your lap. Drag some of them together into a chat window to create a new group chat, which can be refined with settings for text and voice channels as well as member permissions.
Valve's feeling the pressure from Discord (and other chat services) and an overhaul of the chat interface and functionality was long overdue.
The new chat features are now in open beta. You can also save your group chats with a name and avatar, making it easier to come back to them later to pick up the conversation or to play games with those same friends. Other parts of the client have received some visual upgrades as well, including the in-game overlay, but the main brunt of the update is focused on the chat system. This keeps your IP address private, which masks your physical location and also prevents network attacks. Voice chat has also been rebuilt from the ground up, with Valve saying it now sounds a lot cleaner than it did before. The modernized chat experience is now multimedia friendly, which allows users to send video, pictures, tweets, and GIFs, in addition to links.
Steam Chat is available to trial now and is in beta on both the desktop client and in your web browser. Valve is collecting feedback via this section of its forums.
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