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Steam Gets New And Improved Download System

News & Rumors Other

Steam’s download system has generally been… well, so-and-so. It gets the job done, but they’re not quite as good as they should be. No idea since when Valve’ s been using it, but I’d say it’s probably high time for an overhaul of some sort. Steam has been growing a lot in recent times, and more people means higher demand and strain on their download system.

And it would seem Valve is finally doing something about it!

Steam Gets New And Improved Download System

Over the years, Steam has delivered a lot of bits to a lot of people. Delivering content is really at the core of Steam, and we have been working on improving that core. As of today, you can download some of the content on Steam using all-new server and client code to get the job done.

Whoa, it’s that soon? Sweet mother, sound the alarm!

The new content system is designed to do two things: deliver better download rates in more places around the world, and also to simply streamline the publishing process on Steam, ultimately making it possible to ship more games than we would have been able to with the old system.

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. 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.

I have no idea what a web-caching proxy is, but this is great news.

Another way that the new content system improves the bandwidth picture is by requiring each user to download less data. 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. 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.

Now, this is pretty cool. Finally, my game installations won’t be assaulted by overweight Left 4 Dead 2 updates.

These changes have given us an opportunity to write new tools for game developers and content publishers that simplify the process of both publishing and updating a game on Steam. Simplifying the publishing process means it takes the partner and us less time to ship each product, so we can ship more stuff to more users.

Pretty cool as well!

In addition, the new content system will allow us to build several new features that we’ve often heard requested. Upcoming client releases will include things like download scheduling, bandwidth throttling, and prioritizing which games get downloaded first. You’ll also be able to download an update to a game while you’re playing that game; Steam will apply the update after you exit the game.

Now this is what I’m talking about. We’ve been waiting for these things for years. Well, except for the “download an update to a game while you’re playing it” thing. That’s the future. And you can’t wait for the future. Because it always sneaks up on you!

What’s next for Steam? Playing a game while it’s actually installing? Now that’s the futu- what’s that? Halo 2 Vista had that? Nevermind, nevermind. Back to the drawing board.

Over time, more and more of the content on Steam will be delivered using this new system. 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 1280×720 (HD) trailer from the store, it will happen via the new content system. Give it a try!

Very impressive! Yes, the future is now. Testi- Uh… media downloading is the future! And the future starts with you!

Also, Dota 2 is coming out “soon”. Dota 2 has cloth simulation, and that’s the future as well. Problem is Valve’s “soon” is a whole different breed from your average “soon”. So we might be waiting for the future to start with Dota 2 for a long while.

In any case, that’s it for this press release. Be sure to head over to the Steam Store and… well, download some media!


  1. That’s great news,
    finally we won’t have to download 200 MB updates each time a Team Fortress 2 map gets updated.

  2. “Playing a game while installing…”

    Nowq THAT would be akward:

    “What a hell, I acquired the crowbar, but irs a red error… and the Citadel, where is it? Oh its there, but hey, it has purple textures!
    What a hell, Valve what areyou doin?”

    • The best part of this is that it will never happen.
      Before you can play the game, it’ll download the core components and models (Like the crowbar, for instance) to prevent such a scenario to happen. However, yes, there is a chance that you can encounter minor errors, but not enough to ruin gameplay.
      Maps will be downloaded in the same fashion; When you are going to enter a map you are supposed to move next to, but is not downloaded, the server you’ve connected to will prioritize that very map, downloading it first of everything.

      TL;DR: That will never happen, do not worry!

  3. Sweet zombie jesus 😀

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