emember when Steam was a drab olive
green? That was a long, long time ago,
and yet Steam’s library, the place we go
to launch games every day, has rarely
changed in that time. In fact, rumors and
leaked images have pointed to a new library design
since 2017. Valve’s been taking its time, but it’s finally
here: a spiffy new library with smarter tools for
organizing games, and big, shiny box art that makes
browsing a pleasure.
“There are three main goals,” said Valve’s Alden Kroll
when he showed off the library redesign at an event in
Seattle. “To help players find the games that are in their
library and find what to play next. Secondly, to stay up to
date with the things happening in the games, what their
friends are up to, things like that. And then also, for those
who have been collecting games for years in Steam, help
them organize their games and find what they might not
even remember they have in their library collection.”
At time of writing, Valve hasn’t yet rolled the design
out to everyone, but you can try it yourself by opting into
the Steam client beta (Settings > Account > Change beta
participation). It’s still a work in progress, but rest easy if
you’re expecting the kind of beta where you clip through
the floor or get shotgunned from across the map.
The client is perfectly stable, but the design is still in
flux, as Valve sees how people react to its first major
library changes in many years.
‘Modern’ is the best word to describe this glow up: big
vertical icons give box art more room to shine on a new
library Home page, and the whole window follows the
‘flat’ aesthetic popular in recent software design. The
flatter style and big art does make Steam feel like it’s
catching up to the design trends of the past five years,
though. The Home page strongly evokes home cinema
app Plex, and will feel instantly familiar if you’ve ever
used an Apple TV or other streaming device.
The most important new feature is the Home page, which
is, well, just what it sounds like. The library no longer
defaults to the game page of whatever you played last.
Home is divided into rows, with the first two showing you
what’s new from the games in your library—updates,
special events, posts from the developers—and what
you’ve played recently, so you can easily jump back in.
Below that, the layout is mostly up to you: With a couple
of mouse clicks you can add ‘shelves’ of games organized
by Steam’s new collection tools.
A tool called Dynamic Collections is easily Valve’s best
addition: They’re basically Gmail filters for games. You
Since the new
Valve has already
removed a nav
button that took
you to the home
games added to
the library, and
of bug fixes.
There’s no word
on how long the
library will stay in
the beta stage.
BIGGER AND BETA
The ins and outs of Steam’s smart new redesign