As lauded as the Steam service may be, we all have had our fair share of problems with it — from slow download speeds to re-downloading a whole game when trying to get a patch. Value has heard you and has updated the service to provide a better experience.
“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.
“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.”
Along with a smarter way to deploy patches and firewall friendly content, they are also developing new tools for developers and content publishers that simplifies the process for publishing and updating a game. Steam is also building in new features that allow download scheduling, bandwidth throttling, prioritizing which games get downloaded first, and downloading updates for a game while playing that game.
Valve states that more games will be deployed using this new system over time including DotA 2. We can look forward to better download speeds overall — especially when demands spike — as well as shorter download times for game updates.