Games running on Valve's Steamworks online PC service will soon be able to store users' data online, such as save games and configuration files, in a new feature called Steam Cloud shown off to a small selection of journalists at Valve's HQ in Seattle earlier today.
Essentially a storage allocation for each user, Steam Cloud leverages Steam's popularity as an persistent game collection by allowing users to not only access their purchased games on any number of machines but also their saved games and key configurations, safe from hardware failures and even remaining after uninstallation.
Steam Cloud exposes a simple API to developers as part of the free Steamworks SDK that lets them save out game-generated data to the Steam back-end in a manner largely invisible to the user, even caching the data locally if an internet connection is not available and then updating upon the next connection.
Although it will launch in Half-Life, Team Fortress 2 andas a save game vault, Valve plans to expand the service soon after by allowing users to store and share other content such as screengrabs and videos, expanding the Steamworks community platform to also embrace the user-generated content revolution.
"The majority of our customers access their Steam account on more than one PC, whether it's their laptop, or at work, or whatever," said John Cook, lead developer of Steam.
"Not only that, but Steam's been around long enough that most of our customers have gone through one major upgrade, and their games have been able to travel with them - but their save games haven't. We're starting with save games and configuration files, but there's lots of other types of content that games generate - screenshots, replays - and all of those will be able to be stored and then shared with other people."