Valve, which runs digital game distribution platform Steam, has launched Steam.tv, a video streaming portal that could be direct competition to Twitch and YouTube. Steam.tv is currently showing Dota 2‘s The International, with no option to watch any other games or stream to the service yet. However, it’s likely that both of these features will be introduced in the near future.
Once logged in, Steam.tv displays the new Steam Chat introduced recently and allows users to invite friends to join and view the video feed together. Although the site is currently a bit unstable, CNET has managed to explore some of the other functionality available. It reports that Steam.tv has built-in voice chat on Google Chrome, but this doesn’t seem to work on Firefox or Edge.
At the time of writing, Valve hasn’t publicly acknowledged the launch of Steam.tv, opting instead to quietly make it live. Given the size of Steam’s user base and the fact that Steam is currently the leading digital game storefront, it makes sense that Valve would want to give Steam users a place to stream games or watch others do so. Although Twitch and YouTube are the go to services for game streaming, challengers have started to appear, most notably Microsoft’s Mixer service and now Steam.tv.
Steam is also facing competition when it comes to the sale of games, with Discord–already incredibly popular service for chatting while playing games–recently announcing it will start selling games, and even for some with an exclusivity period. Major publishers like Bethesda, meanwhile, are also starting to distance themselves from Valve’s platform. Fallout 76 will be distributed through Bethesda’s own service first, instead on Steam.
The recent Steam Chat launch introduced new grouping features, a Favorites tag, and also revealed more details on what friends doing. Friends will now automatically be grouped by game and by party, which makes it easier play with them. The dedicated friends menu will display specific details about what exactly friends are doing in a game too. Additionally, group chats can be pulled together much easier now. You can read more about the Steam Chat update here.