Earlier yesterday, Valve’s extensive update to the Steam Community framework, adding a variety of new social-oriented features, went live for all Steam users, as a mandatory addition within the Steam client. Valve have also provided client notes, for anyone who wants to get a quick lowdown on what’s been added.
I’ve had access to the new Community for almost a month now, courtesy of the closed beta that Valve began on the 16th of August. And I have to say, I’m definitely enjoying it a lot. There’s a lot of great stuff in here that simply turns the Community into a much better, much more useful, and more enjoyable social experience. And while it is hard to get used to at first, it’s definitely a great idea on Valve’s part, with a very good execution as well.
One of the more note-worthy parts of this update, is the future of the venerable Steam Powered User Forums. It would appear that, recently, Valve removed the “Forums” link from the Steam Store’s main navigation tab. In addition, all the “Forums” navigation links, on the right-hand side of any game entry within a user’s Steam Library, will now lead to that respective game’s Discussions (Discussions being another feature added as part of the new Community update). And on the central Discussions homepage, the SPUF are directly linked to, but they are referred to as “the old forums“. So, it certainly seems like the Discussions are meant to supersede or perhaps replace the SPUF, at least in some capacity.
Well, according to Al Farnsworth, one of Valve’s leading Steam software engineers, the SPUF will remain open “as long as people are still active there“. He says that they currently have no plans to close down the forums. This is great, and very re-assuring, but at the same time, it’s hard not to feel a tingle of sorrow as we realize that this does represent the beginning of the end, for an era that began almost 10 years ago. I am not crying, there is just something in my eye. Don’t look at me.
In any case, the rest of the Community update has been fairly mouthwatering, rather than just eyewatering. I’m simply hoping Valve keeps working on the way community content is displayed within Game Hubs, and screenshot galleries – because as it is, it’s pretty painful to navigate and browse these areas when you have no idea why this thing is bigger than the next, and why the next four things are bunched together, for no apparent reason. Once that’s taken care of, all will be well.