Valve just launched Steam Chat, a built-in answer to Discord

Steam chat system has needed an upgrade for years. On Tuesday, it finally got one.

Sean Buckley Social Media Producer

There was a time when Steam's built-in chat platform was one of the easiest ways to talk to your friends about games. It had voice chat and was natively integrated into the biggest PC gaming distribution service. It did exactly what gamers needed of it, but little else. But online chat communities evolved, and Steam's default chat client didn't. Soon, Discord ate Valve's lunch.

Now the PC gaming platform is striking back. On Tuesday, Valve launched Steam Chat, a major overhaul of the platform's built-in chat client. And -- surprise! -- it's a lot like Discord.

That's no bad thing. Discord gained traction by borrowing ideas from team chat programs designed for work environments, to the end that it's commonly called "Slack for gamers." Steam Chat seems to borrow those ideas again -- giving users the ability to create persistent voice and text channels for friends to drop in and out of, support for embedding videos, pictures and tweets in conversations and, crucially, the ability to invite anybody to a group chat by simply sending them a link.

The update also gives the chat interface a major overhaul, sporting a flat, modern design aesthetic with more intuitive design elements. Adding a friend to a voice chat, for instance, is much easier now -- just drag and drop them from your friend's list to your chat window. Done.

The update has been in the Steam client's beta for a while now, but should be available to all users starting Tuesday.

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