The Steam Review

Comment and discussion on Valve Software’s digital communications platform.

Peer-to-Peer downloads in development

Custom content gets a boost :: March 16th, 2006 :: Events, Steam updates :: 17 Responses (Feed)

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…

17 Responses to this post:


  1. Koraktor Says:

    I’m pretty sure that system will be used for the distribution of mods over Steam. Valve has enormous bandwith reserves, but in my opinion they would not like to “waste” it for mods. Especially when they want to give that chance to all mods and not only the big ones.
    I can also imagine a few other things like e.g. a platform for custom content, especially maps.

    Whatever Valve’s plans are, I’m confident that an efficient P2P network will give a real boost to Steam and the idea behind.

  2. DiSTuRbEd Says:

    I thought Bram quit VALVe, maybe I just heard something utterly wrong.

  3. DiSTuRbEd Says:

    *excuse me I just read the wiki, my bad.

  4. wizpig64 Says:

    I would really love to see Steam be more connected to mods. Sure, it already has a big list of em in the steam store, but those only link to the webpage, not direct links. Plus, they don’t automatically update (something that would keep me WAY more organized, as i have 4 versions of Garry’s Mod installed, mostly cus the plugins that game supports.)

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