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Valve is always quietly working on something new in the background. We don't even know what to expect with the company as they go from making VR games like Half-Life: Alyx, to suddenly announcing their own hardware in the Steam Deck, and now it seems they're working again to improve the service of Steam. This time its focus is on allowing you to play games before they're fully downloaded - neat.
As PCGamesN notes, SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik has spotted a newly publicised patent from Valve. It aims to allow "client machines", "to generate access data based on the tracked read operations, and to report the access data to a remote system". This allows the client to use features such as "'instant play' of video games, discarding of unused blocks of game data to free up local memory resources, and/or local prefetching of game data for reducing latency during gameplay".
Valve is also working on releasing their next piece of hardware, the Steam Deck...
So what does that all mean? Well, it seems that Valve is working on software that will not only allow players to play games they've purchased instantly but also freeing up resources by deleting unused data and working on prefetching data so latency isn't such an issue. And basically, that just means a better gaming experience for PC players overall.
New Valve patent for tracking game file read operations and to allow "instant play" where you can start a game before it finishes downloading.https://t.co/VYGj7p9siG- Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) September 21, 2021
As the original report notes, console users may be rolling their eyes at this one, because this tech isn't really that new. You already have been able to play the games you're still downloading on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 era of consoles. It's certainly not a new idea but it's nice for the same feature to eventually be making its way over to PC gamers too.
It doesn't yet seem like there is a time frame for when we're going to see this implemented, if ever. Patents are often rolled out by companies with half-hearted intentions to actually implement them in their wider tech, so it'll be interesting to see if Valve take a plunge to make this standard on Steam.
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