Valve Details New Steam Features

A July update will add a host of free community features to Steam, rivaling Microsoft's Games for Windows initiative.

Valve's PC gaming and distribution platform Steam will gain a host of new community features, including personal Steam pages and profiles, care of a free update slated to arrive in July.

Among the various new options is support for voice chat and the ability to track former opponents and easily check out their in-game performance at a later time. In addition to the customizable user profile and web page, players will be able to create and join groups as well as schedule games with their friends. This functionality will be supported by all games available on Steam.

Valve may be taking aim at Microsoft's Games for Windows Live program, which aims to bring the Xbox Live experience to the PC platform but currently has full support for only a few Vista titles.

"Our community has given us great direction on the ways they want to see Steam evolve," explained Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell. "Adding these new community features to make it easier to connect with other gamers is something we've wanted to see on Steam for a long time and this latest update is just the start. We've got a long list of items that we're working on to make it easier for gamers to connect and play games on Steam."

Valve has recently added several high-profile games on the digital distribution platform, such as Bizarre Creations' Geometry Wars and Telltale Games' Sam & Max, with the promise of future Capcom titles. Last week, Valve revealed to Shacknews that its highly-anticipated trio of first person shooters--Half-Life 2: Episode Two (preview), Team Fortress 2 (preview), and Portal (preview)--will arrive on the service on October 9, 2007.

Chris Faylor was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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