Steam is by far the most popular games marketplace on PC, but the platform is not without its issues. One of its biggest problems is related to the inability to play games while they are downloading. Now, this isn’t a huge issue when you’re looking to play small indie games. But it is a real hassle in the case of many modern AAA titles since these tend to take up anywhere between 50 and 100 gigs of space these days. Unless you have good internet, you’re probably already used to having to wait several hours every time you download one of these games. But maybe in the near future you won’t have to.
According to a recently uncovered patent, it looks like Valve is working on technology that would allow Steam users to play games while they are still downloading. The patent also mentions “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 filed the patent on March 17th of 2020 but the paper only surfaced earlier today after SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik tweeted about it.
The idea of playing games while they’re downloading is nothing new. Sony and Microsoft have been doing it since the last generation of consoles and the feature is also supported by several PC game launchers. Battle.net is probably one of the most well-known examples.
The feature was also tested on Steam back in 2015 with Mortal Kombat X and there were a couple of other attempts to implement it even before that. For some reason or another, Valve just couldn’t pull it off in the past but hopefully, the company will be successful this time. We’re not entirely sure when we should expect the much-requested feature, but given that the patent has been filed more than a year ago, we may end up hearing more about it in the near future.
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