Steam: Playing games while they are in download may soon be possible

Steam: Playing games while they are in download may soon be possible


Steam may soon allow games to be used while they are still being downloaded, through a technology that Valve is currently testing, apparently, at least based on patents that have emerged from the company.

The patent dates back to some time ago as registration, but it became public only recently: apparently it was already filed in March 2020, which signals a possible already advanced state of the processing. This is what was found by Dave Djundik of SteamDB, always a rather reliable source regarding the rumors about Valve's digital delivery.

In essence, it is a system that allows the platform to prioritize to the download of some files compared to others, in order to follow a mapping of the data most frequently used in the execution of an .exe file and making sure that a user can start a program (a game, in this case) even without having all the files available.

This is, in practice, a version of what the Sony and Microsoft consoles already do, which for some time now allow you to start a download game once a certain threshold has been reached, giving priority to the download of some files necessary for starting and perhaps to try a first portion of the games.

In any case, there is still no certainty about the actual application of this technology, so we do not know quant or, and especially if, this feature will actually be rolled out to Steam in the next period. Meanwhile, Steam Next Fest dates have surfaced.

Source Did you notice any errors?

Steam could soon let you play games while they're downloading

Why it matters: Given the enormous size of many of today's games and the fact that not everyone has high-speed internet connections, downloading a title from Steam can be a lengthy and frustrating process. Wouldn't it be great if we could play them before they've finished making their way onto our PCs? Based on a new Valve patent, such a feature could become a reality.

As spotted by SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik, United States Patent 11123634 was filed by Valve in March and published yesterday. It describes a Steam mechanic called 'instant play' that would allow users to start playing a game as soon as it starts downloading.

The patent describes being able to 'utilize a file system proxy component that is configured to track read operations made by the game executable during a game session.' This would allow Steam to prioritize certain game files throughout the download.

The patent also mentions removing unused blocks of game data—perhaps levels players have already completed—to free up local resources, as well as local prefetching of game data for reducing latency during gameplay.

Consoles have been using this play-while-downloading feature since the PS4 and Xbox One, and it will be familiar to Origin and users. The caveat is usually that only part of the game is playable until the entire title has downloaded. Valve's patent, however, uses the phrase 'without limitation.' Exactly what that entails is unclear, but it certainly sounds promising.

Another intriguing element of Valve's implementation is that developers don't need to add anything extra to their games; it would all be handled by Valve and Steam.

Like all patents, there's no guarantee that the instant play feature will ever become a reality, but it looks as if Valve is preparing to unleash it on grateful gamers.