Steam 'instant play' patent could allow play of PC games while they download

An unearthed Valve patent from early 2020 could mean major upgrades to the Steam client and the way we play games through it.


Being able to play games before they’re 100 percent downloaded and installed isn’t really a new thing in gaming. PlayStation and Xbox have been able to do this for quite some time. This type of feature hasn’t really made its way to Steam. However, a recently discovered patent has revealed that may not be the case for long. Valve has filed a patent for an “instant play” technology that would allow players to play Steam games while they are downloading.

This patent was discovered over on the Free Patents Online database, as found by SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik. Filed by the Valve Corporation in March 2020, this patent suggests a technology for “tracking game file read operations.” More importantly, it includes the functionality of “instant play,” a system that would allow players to jump in and start playing Steam games upon purchase as they fully download. The system would draw a map to prioritize files necessary for the game to operate at its minimum needs, allowing safe and functional play without the game’s download being complete.

There's no telling when the
There's no telling when the "instant play" feature in Valve's unearthed patent could appear, but it would arguably be hugely beneficial to the launch of the Steam Deck.

Again, it’s not that the opportunity to play games early is a new thing, but this would be a fantastic addition to the Steam client. The ability to jump into games as soon as you would like would assuredly be a huge boon for PC gamers. Not only that, but with Valve’s PC portable Steam Deck launching late in 2021, “instant play” on Steam games would be a great thing to provide with the new platform’s launch.

There’s no telling when Steam’s “instant play” system described in the patent might be applied, so stay tuned as we continue to follow this story for updates and details from Valve.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola