Starting today, Valve changed the Steam auto-update system in order to lessen the bandwidth load on global networks as a global pandemic rages on. The company targeted automatic updates of rarely played games in users’ libraries, with the change itself happening at a moment when Valve is enjoying a record-high number of people concurrently playing video games on its platform – 23.5 million, to be exact.
Expect a delay in Steam’s automatic updates
The COVID-19 outbreak is taking its toll on the entertainment industry. The higher number of people remaining home puts increased pressure on a wide variety of online services in the segment. This was first recognized by streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon, as well as YouTube, who lowered their video streaming quality to maintain data flow and global stability.
With the gaming powerhouse that is Valve now joining that group, expect immediate changes in the way its client behaves. More specifically, games that were played in the last three days will get immediate updates once those are released, while the rest of your library will be updated over several days. The player still has the option to prompt an immediate update, but only if they do so manually. For some players, this will not constitute such a difference, as Valve already offers extensive (and highly customizable) auto-update settings, including the ability to self-throttle Steam’s Internet connection.
Valve is not the only gaming company that is adjusting its infrastructure in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Sony and Microsoft also made similar changes in an attempt to reduce internet traffic originating from their products and services. Starting on March 24th, Sony has slowed down PSN game downloads in Europe, and promptly extended that policy to the U.S. three days later. Microsoft began limiting Xbox Live downloads on March 28th, only allowing for higher download speed during off-peak hours.