Will Steam Allow Us To Play Games While We Download Them?

Valve’s recently unearthed patent is pointing in this direction, but knowing Steam team, this update might occur at a random Tuesday update…


Several games are ballooning into the tens of gigabytes, and there are cases where something requires more than one hundred GB to download. However, on Steam, we do not have the chance to play a game we are currently downloading. We have to wait until the download ends (and if the game updates to its most recent version…).

SteamDB founder Pavel Djundik shared the patent (filed in March 2020) on Twitter. According to it, Valve is looking to implement a system that lets a Steam user play a game as it downloads. The company calls it “instant play.” How does it work? Steam will track a game’s read operations of its executable files. This data will be used to draw a digital map to prioritize specific game files during the download process. It will allow us to start the game without having to wait for the download to finish.

Here’s Valve’s description: “Client machines running game executables of a video game(s) may utilize a file system proxy component that is configured to track read operations made by the game executable during a game session, to generate access data based on the tracked read operations, and to report the access data to a remote system. This telemetry approach allows the remote system to collect access data reported by multiple client machines, to catalogue the access data according to client system configuration, and to analyze the access data to generate data that is usable by client machines to implement various game-related features including, without limitation, ‘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.”

This technology will free up space on our end by using “client-side discarding and prefetching” of game data while not messing with the game’s integrity. Theoretically (but not in practice!), it might even reduce the latency while we play the game, causing slightly less lag than before…

If you use Origin, Battle.net, or a recent console (say, the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series), then you can play a game while downloading it on any of the platforms. However, Valve seems to take it a step further, as Gabe Newell’s company wouldn’t limit us to a tutorial stage or the main menu: they’d allow you to begin playing properly.

We don’t know yet if the patent will be used or not…

Source: PCGamer

Spread the love
Avatar photo
Anikó, our news editor and communication manager, is more interested in the business side of the gaming industry. She worked at banks, and she has a vast knowledge of business life. Still, she likes puzzle and story-oriented games, like Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments, which is her favourite title. She also played The Sims 3, but after accidentally killing a whole sim family, swore not to play it again. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our IMPRESSUM)

No comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

theGeek TV