Valve’s long-forgotten Steam mobile app is getting an overdue redesign seven years after its last major update, and now the developer is asking for beta testers.
The online gaming platform where people can buy and play video games on their PCs originally built the Steam mobile app as a miniature version of the service that had most of the desktop features except you couldn’t play anything. However, the app was never popular. People complained about connection problems (opens in new tab) and a disorganized user interface (opens in new tab). It was considered a lost cause until this recent announcement.
In a recent blog post (opens in new tab), Valve revealed that the new mobile app will be rebuilt from the ground up on a brand new framework and claims the app has a more modern design. It retains some of the old features, such as the ability to purchase games for your Steam account, confirm transactions, and steam watch (opens in new tab) codes. New features include QR code login, “smarter notifications”, a more in-depth library, and support for multiple accounts.
You can already sign up for the beta, but be quick because there is a limited number of places available. Valve asks for feedback from its users so it can learn what people like and what not, and see what needs to be fixed. According to the company, knowing what needs to be repaired is especially important as the app needs to work on different operating systems and devices.
Valve has provided a link to the Google Play Store (opens in new tab) which will ask you to join the beta program and download the app. Unfortunately for iPhone owners, the beta program is full (opens in new tab) at the time of writing, but there are plans to add more slots over time. Valve recommends: look back later (opens in new tab) to see if new spots are available.
The process on iOS involves downloading Apple’s TestFlight app first and then downloading the beta steam app. In the meantime, Valve recommends participating in discussions taking place in are community forums (opens in new tab).
It is important to mention that to enable the QR code login feature, you need to enter your Steam Client on desktop to beta version (opens in new tab). You can do this by going to the Account tab in the Settings menu and clicking the Change button. After that, you need to restart Steam to access the beta features. On startup, the login screen has the QR code option in the front and in the middle.
Try the app
Please note that you will encounter a few bugs in the beta. We managed to join the program on Android and had some problems logging in. It took a few tries. Going through the forums, login issues seem to be a common problem. Other than that, the experience was quite smooth. Scrolling through the store felt fine and responsive, just like any other app.
All the new features mentioned in the announcement are in place and working. In addition to a Store tab, the bottom bar contains: (opens in new tab) a news feed, notification area, Steam Guard, with the QR code feature, and a typical settings menu. The renewed library (opens in new tab) provides access to community resources such as player groups to join and personal game stats such as achievements. Sentiment on forums is mostly positive with lots of suggestions thrown around.
If you look through the community, you will see that many users are asking to add chat function (opens in new tab). There is already a Steam Chat (opens in new tab) on mobile that serves this purpose, but people want Valve to get rid of it and include it in the new app. That way, people don’t jump back and forth between the two to talk to friends.
It is unknown when the enhanced Steam app will be officially launched. Valve notes that it will continue to add people to the program and improve the beta until release day.
If you’re stuck on which new game to buy or don’t feel like catching up, Ditching has a list of the best games on steam you must watch.