Valve beefing up Steam download servers

Video game content delivery outfit Valve says it is beefing up its server infrastructure and now has all-new server and client code.

The company said its new content system was designed to deliver better download speeds to more countries and to streamline the publishing process.

"The maximum aggregate bandwidth of the system will be greater than the current system," said a spokesteamer. "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."

Valve has also changed the way updated content is sent to existing users with the new system sending delta updates, only the difference between the old file and the new one, rather than the entire file.

With some gaming files weighing in at several gigabytes, being able to update them with files measured in megabytes should make a palpable difference to the annoying load times experienced when booting a game up, particularly if you haven't played it for an extended period.

The company also says it has built new tools for developers and publishers get games onto the Steam servers far quicker than before: "Simplifying the publishing process means it takes the partner and us less time to ship each product," said the Steam rep, "so we can ship more stuff to more users."

The new content system will also allow Valve to add several new and oft-requested features to Steam including download scheduling, bandwidth throttling, and download prioritisation.

So you won't have to wait for the 73 games you have in your library which begin with the letters 'A' to 'Y' to update before you can have a quick game of Zeno Clash.

You'll also be able to download non-critical updates to games in your library whilst you are playing them, and apply the patches once you've had your fill of murder and mayhem (or playing with pink ponies... whatever floats your gaming boat.)

The first title to go live on the new server will be Dota 2 and more titles will be added over time. Valve looks like it's having a crack at trying to make the new servers go boom by hosting all of its HD game trailers there first.