Valve's new Steam Chat is its answer to Discord, the popular messaging platform that caters to different kinds of gaming communities. Needless to say, it comes as yet another attempt to compete with the chat app.
Steam has now begun rolling out new text and voice features, in addition to an updated friends list. It is part of the company's effort to turn the gaming marketplace into more of an avenue where users can discuss games and interact with fellow players similar to Discord.
The move does not come as much of a surprise, however. Steam's attempts to follow Discord's footsteps began this past June when it launched a beta version of Steam Chat.
Now, those features have finally gone live. Steam attempts to regain some of the customers it lost to Discord after the chat platform had launched just three years ago.
Steam Chat Rolls Out With Fresh Design And Features
The new features mostly center on design and chat versatility. For example, users can now send GIFs and rich social video links to friends via Steam Chat.
It is now also possible to sort friends by favorites, groups them by game or party, and maintain more dynamic group chats that are designed to look more like Discord servers. Not only that, Steam Chat now also allows users to take advantage of voice chat, much like on Discord.
In short, Steam wasted no time making its own chat platform more similar to its competitor, and it has to hope the strategy works.
Discord has become the default messaging platform for most gamers. Because it is so large, however, it is not just a games-centric app anymore but a popular social chat app in its own right, with public and private communities and group chats spanning 130 million registered users. That is an incredible number of people, which Steam would very much want to steal.
The Steam And Discord Rivalry
Why is Steam competing with Discord? It is already the number 1 storefront for PC players, so why does it feel the need to lure users further in with a chat platform? The simple answer is that Steam wants to be the default place where players connect, not just purchase their games.
"In 2011, Electronic Arts got flak after breaking away from Steam to form its own storefront, Origin. At the time, players feared a slippery slope of multiple companies leaving Steam, resulting in the need to maintain friends lists across a wide range of platforms. Now, Discord is where gamers' main friends lists live, not Steam," explained Carter Rogers, SuperData research manager, back in June.
Simply put, Steam is jealous of the fact that all the players are socializing on Discord.
It will be a real problem if ever Discord decides to launch its own storefront, as it will pose an even bigger threat to Steam. The company, however, does not indicate that it is going to do so, for now. Clearly, Valve is hedging its bets in case Discord tries to do something drastic because such a move will significantly impact Steam's user base for sure.