Steam released an updated client in the last few days, with some noteworthy features and updates. The big news from this patch will be welcome for anyone who likes using a PS4 controller on the PC — it’s now fully supported in Steam’s Big Picture mode. According to Valve, you can configure the PS4 controller the same way you’d configure a native Steam controller, with native API support and robust button mapping. You can even make use of the PS4’s gyro and map various functions to it.
Valve has also added support for stick mice (a joystick-based mouse), finer-grained control of haptic settings, LED color settings, and the option for individual games to opt out of using Steam’s configuration support if they’ve implemented their own support for a PS4 or other controller. All in all, it’s a nice improvement for gamers who either like the PS4 controller more than other options, or simply want to use a unified controller for PC and console gaming. There’s a great many tweaks and adjustments to Big Picture mode and overall customization options (you can check the full patch notes for details).
The other major change is that Steam now supports 4K streaming in-home, provided your router and network are up to the challenge. It’s also been updated to be compliant with the version of NVFBC used in the latest Nvidia drivers, and should offer better performance when installing games to a conventional hard drive. Valve actually wrote this up as “Improved download and patching speeds when games are installed to a traditional non-SSD hard drive,” which may say something about just how many gamers buy SSDs.
Two other bits of Steam-related news I’ll go ahead and mention. If you’ve been salivating at the thought of Valve’s end-of-year extravaganza, you don’t have much longer to wait. The Steam winter sale will kick off on December 22 and end January 2 according to what we’ve heard. Steam isn’t bringing back its flash sales, which means the prices you’ll see when the event kicks off should be stable for the duration.
Second, back in October we ran a story on how VR adoption rates on Steam seemed to have hit a brick wall after initially surging when the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift launched earlier this year. September’s data showed that just 0.31% of Steam users owned a headset, with HTCs’ Vive holding a roughly 2:1 advantage over the Oculus Rift. Two months later, those numbers haven’t changed much.
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Currently, the HTC Vive is up to 0.21% of total Steam users, while the Oculus Rift has ticked up 0.01%. This isn’t necessarily bad news — we don’t know how many people run Steam and participate in the survey, and that matters when trying to estimate total VR sales. These increases, modest as they are, still likely reflect some tens of thousands of unit shipments. That’s not exciting relative to the entire gaming market, but it’s not bad for an extremely expensive technology currently marketed towards early adopters.
The big question will be what these figures look like come January. Sony, HTC, and Oculus are all hoping for significant holiday sales for their various VR initiatives, and these figures will be watched closely to measure how excited consumers are (or aren’t) about VR headsets.