Peer-to-Peer downloads in development
I’ve really got to pay more attention to these resource files,
Public/P2PDownload.res (thanks again, Andy) in particular. The form controls defined within the file leave no room for doubt that a P2P distribution system is being added to Steam, and very little that it is related to the “distribution system…for free content” mentioned both last September and more recently in 1UP’s ‘Mod Summit’ feature.
Following Valve’s 2003-2004/5 hiring of Bram Cohen the system seems likely to be based on his popular and open source BitTorrent software, where clients download pieces of data from other users connected to the server in exchange for parts of the file they have that the others do not, reducing (but not always eliminating) centralised server load. Steam using an implementation of BitTorrent would give an enormous boost to the popularity of legitimate P2P – as indeed would it using any P2P system.
While the driving idea behind the system is free and/or third-party content (i.e. mods), there can be no doubt that distributing content for official games peer-to-peer would also be beneficial. However, the required uploading would be another cause for complaints from those with bandwidth caps, or who just fancy any excuse to have a go. Don’t expect the content servers to disappear any time soon…