Here’s what Valve is doing to avoid putting ‘stress’ on home internet bandwidth

Valve has outlined how it’s planning to manage its bandwidth issues in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s keeping more and more people are home, often struggling with their home’s internet bandwidth.

“We know a lot of you (like us here at Valve) are stuck at home right now trying to work or attend school remotely,” the company said in a blog update. “Or maybe you’re just playing a bunch of great games on Steam. Whatever the case may be, we know that with so many people at home trying to get things done at the same time, it can put a stress on your home’s internet bandwidth.

“With that in mind, we thought it was a good time to remind everyone of some of the features the Steam client offers relating to downloads, so that you can manage your home bandwidth and help everyone in your house handle this unique situation we all find ourselves in.” 

Consequently, Valve is changing its auto-updating feature to “spread out peak load”. For games that haven’t been played recently, Steam says it has already been scheduling updates for the next off-peak local-time period, but beginning this week, it is also now “spreading these updates out over several more days”. 

“Only games played within the last 3 days will be updated immediately,” Valve added. “As always, the game will begin updating immediately if you request to play it, and you can always initiate an update (or pause it indefinitely) through the Download Manager. We’re also looking into additional solutions to help on our side.”

The company also asks players to make changes locally too, and is encouraging them to “take advantage of Steam’s existing throttling and scheduling features to set their own optimal behaviour”.

Steam yet again broke its own concurrent records recently, clocking up over 22 million simultaneous users over the weekend. It was only last month that we reported Steam hit its highest ever concurrent users of 18,801,944, breaking the previous highest concurrent figure of 18,537,490 users set in January 2018, and then again, when it reached a new concurrent online user record of 20 million, with 6.2 million currently in-game shortly afterwards.

The coronavirus is affecting games all over the world and in a myriad of ways. In response to the pandemic, E3 2020 has been cancelled, as has EGX Rezzed, and GDC, and Develop:Brighton 2020 has been postponed to November, and both Mojang and Electronic Arts have cancelled scheduled live events

Gamescom, however, still opens to proceed as planned. BAFTA has confirmed it’s revising the format on its upcoming Games Awards in light of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), too.

Bungie, EA, Nintendo and now Rockstar have all implemented homeworking to minimise staff exposure to the virus whilst Pokémon Go developer Niantic has made changes to the game to enable players to continue participating even whilst in self-isolation. The increase in people working from home and/or self-isolating, however, has put a strain on online services like Xbox Live and Nintendo Switch Online.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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