2018 was a massive year for gaming. We saw Fortnite leading the push for games-as-a-service, streaming became much more of a thing thanks to Ninja (and Fortnite,) and battle royales are now a legitimate genre (also thanks in large part to Fortnite…), more stores popped up (including the Fortnite powered Epic Games Store), but Valve managed to have a good year too, as revealed by Steam’s 2018 Year in Review.
According to Valve, Steam saw a peak of 18.5 million concurrent users last year. The storefront brought in 47 million daily active users as well, topping out at 90 million monthly users. Those 90 million gamers caused some struggle for Valve, who revamped their store to “cater to a diverse set of interests, and give games from developers big and small a chance to find their audience.”
These changes were seen via new content filtering algorithms for adult content, the attempted removal of troll games, new Curator settings, and home pages for developers and publishers. The company also made Steam much more accessible for the rest of the world. New currencies like the Australian Dollar were given support, and a ton of new payment providers were added as well.
Valve also revamped their chat system with one that looks suspiciously similar to Discord’s. Now, we get higher-quality voice chats and a more organized friends list. They also introduced new moderation tools and even a full-time moderation team to clean up the community conversations as well. Since September, the moderation teams went through 113,290 reported posts.
The storefront also saw a new version of Steam Play. Released in August, this update allows gamers to play Windows games on a Linux client – even if the game has no Linux version. It also introduced DirectX 11 and 12 support for Vulkan so games can run better.
Apparently, more PC gamers are turning to a controller over keyboard and mouse. Because of this, Valve upgraded Steam Input, which now supports 300 devices including the Switch Pro Controller. The team also brought in tons of different VR updates such as motion smoothing.
3.8 billion items were created thanks to the platform’s new inventory service. This upgrade allows “any Steam game to have items with unique dynamic properties.” Their example is a flaming purple hat that keeps track of headshots. Developers can make whatever they want to track whatever they’d like. Cool stuff.
Valve also upgraded their network infrastructure. Servers that run search, User Reviews, and the Steam Workshop all saw improvements. The company is also working on their own global private network, which sounds kind of take-over-y. But it connects to over 28,000 local systems and allows us all to have decent network performance.
Finally, the post goes into 2019’s expectations. Some key points:
- Store Discoverability. Valve is using machine-learning to improve their recommendation algorithms. This is a consistent work in progress.
- Steam China. Steam is partnering with Perfect World to bring the platform to China.
- Library Update. We’re finally getting some UI updates like a reworked library.
- Steam TV. Valve is further getting into the streaming landscape.
- Steam Chat Mobile. A revamped mobile chat experience.
- Steam PC Cafe Program. With this, you can use Steam in a PC Cafe from anywhere in the world.