Valve may soon introduce Peer-to-Peer Steam downloads over LAN

Valve may soon introduce Peer-to-Peer Steam downloads over LAN

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PC gamers hardly ever use game discs anymore with all the sources for downloadable titles, but what if you didn’t have to download them every time? Code from the latest beta versions of the Steam desktop client points to an upcoming feature that will let you move game files from one device to another on your network, potentially saving you a ton of time and bandwidth. You can tinker with this feature now, but be warned, it’s still very early in development.

News of the “peer content” mode was first shared by SteamDB developer Pavel Djundik, who tweeted about the apparent feature last week. The name probably conjures up the image of peer-to-peer file sharing, but both “peers” in this case are on your local network. Thus, one system can act as the server, and another is the client that downloads game content from it. This makes it possible to shuffle a game from your desktop to a laptop or Steam Deck. Or it could be the other way around.

Game sizes continue to increase, ballooning to well over 100GB in many cases. If you have an unmetered gigabit connection, you probably don’t mind downloading the same 100GB on multiple machines, but those on slower connections with bandwidth caps will really appreciate this feature. You can burn through 10 percent of Comcast’s standard 1.2 TB monthly data cap by downloading a game once. If you have multiple slots, you’ll see a significant portion of your monthly allotment gone. This also helps Valve, which saves bandwidth on their end.

This feature is available in the most basic way if you are running the latest beta version of the Steam client on your desktop. After starting it with the “-dev” attribute, you’ll be able to use the console to set “@PeerContentClientMode” on one machine and “@PeerContentServerMode” on the other. Players around the web say this works, but not reliably. Once this feature is complete, there will be a user interface and you won’t need to fiddle with development mode.

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Since the feature is only available in the latest beta version, it shows that it’s not an abandoned feature from the past — Valve is working on this, but we have no idea when it will be available for real. However, given the current state, it may take a while.

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