Valve sends out first invites to Steam Music beta

Valve has released an early version of its SteamOS to the general public and of course anyone can download the Steam client and run it in "Big Picture" mode. Now Valve is preparing to expand the features of Steam and SteamOS beyond just playing games. Today, the first invites were sent out to a select few testers to try out a closed beta of Steam Music.

In a FAQ post on the Steam Community page, Valve offers up more information on Steam Music, which is basically a new software app made to play local MP3 files from a user's PC hard drive. The player can run the software while they are playing games on Steam or SteamOS and people who are participating in the SteamOS in-home streaming beta can also use it to stream music files to a remote PC.

So why add such a player in the first place? Valve states:

For years, customers have been asking us to provide a basic way for them to access and play music while in-game. Task-switching between resource-intensive 3D games and other desktop apps has never been a graceful experience for gamers, so an in-game player can help by eliminating that pain point. 

However, the company also believes that it can "broaden Steam as an entertainment platform which includes music alongside games and other forms of media." That kind of additional support will certainly be needed when the first third party Steam Machines go on sale later this year. Valve says in its FAQ that support for more audio file types are in the works for Steam Music, and hinted that it could launch a streaming music service, like Pandora or Spotify, in the future.

Source: Valve | Image via Valve

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33 Comments

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Normally I just use my keyboard media buttons to play music during games, however if this allows playlist or song selection it will be better than just skipping over songs I don't want to hear right now.

It's not something I would personally use (I don't normally listen to music while gaming), but nevertheless I welcome this feature. I just wish they would add favorites/bookmarks to the overlay browser.

Oh noes it' gonna use 50meg of my precious mEmory and 0.01% of my cpu when in use. Guys we are not in 1997 anymore. I'm pretty sure they are doing this because xbox one removed it for their features list from the 360. Anyway when I use that, I use rdio, in a chrome sessions and select song with my cel phone witch become a remote in that case. It's great lol! And it's only for the full screen interface for now, so people that use it in htpc style can do it without using a keyb / mouse

To all the people who say this sucks, imagine yourself being in a long and hard mission in a game.
And suddenly your music skips to another song, but a very irritating one, well one that you don't want to hear during this mission? In a lot of cases you have to switch to desktop to change the song.

With this feature, you can just do shift+tab and switch and voila !

I think its funny seeing some of the responses.

I'm sure some will react the same way they reacted when MS made it clear they were producing a console that could do a lot more than just game (not to mention Sony). Some want a pure gaming experience and the idea that any company devotes any resources to things other than gaming is just wrong to them.

Steam is suppose to remain all about gaming, they aren't allowed to grow into an 'entertainment' platform just as MS isn't allowed to do that with the Xbox or Sony with the ps4.

Of course the reality is that you gaming purists are just a smaller group. Valve knows that offering extra features that cater to other entertainment is a good thing and that most people will appreciate it. They also know (like MS and Sony) that they can support gaming at a high level while still creating these extra features. They all believe the future is in offer an all around platform, not one that is focused on a single function.

I don't think anybody complained about the XBox One being able to play music or movie. The 360 was able to and nobody complained. People did not complain about the 360 having apps either. It's mostly the TV features people complained about. And lot of people who complained about them are living outside of USA and they complained cause they know most of those features will not work in their country as it's alwasy the case with TV thingies coming from USA. Also in lot of countries outside of USA those TV features are already covered by cable provider set top box.

LaP said,
I don't think anybody complained about the XBox One being able to play music or movie. The 360 was able to and nobody complained. People did not complain about the 360 having apps either. It's mostly the TV features people complained about. And lot of people who complained about them are living outside of USA and they complained cause they know most of those features will not work in their country as it's alwasy the case with TV thingies coming from USA. Also in lot of countries outside of USA those TV features are already covered by cable provider set top box.

There actually have been many people online that complained about MS focusing any amount of time on entertainment services outside gaming, claiming that it meant they lacked a focus on games because of that. For those people, they want a gaming device that is completely focused on gaming and they believe investing in other services takes away from that.

Personally, I know that is not true. Whether its MS adding an HDMI-in, Sony developing a TV subscription service, or Valve bring all sorts of non gaming apps and features to Steam. These companies are big enough to offer the gaming focus and expand into non gaming features. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

Your points are certainly true that some had other issues, but I'm talking about those with a different compliant.

Well surely some did but we should not care about people who complain just for the sake of it.

I'm one of the people here who complained about the TV features a lot. Not because i think the idea itself is bad but because i know it wont work where i live and thus is a void feature i still need to pay for (if the xbox one would be the same price as the ps4 i would not care). I complained because i would prefer to buy an xbox one but 100$ is a lot of money for feature i wont use (kinect) or be able to use (TV).

This is different here. Let's be honest Steam OS and Steam Box will likely fail but to have a slight chance of succeeding it needs tu support apps like a web browser and be able to "natively" play music and video. That is the bare minimum a machine playing games must do outside of gaming.

I don't see the big problem here.

LaP said,

I don't see the big problem here.


This isn't about arguing over Kinect (which is the reason the price is $100, not the TV features) so there is no reason to go down that road.

Your exactly right that there is no big problem here. That was my point all along. I just hope the same people that go overboard when it comes to features like this remember that and not repeat past reactions.

This company is seriously lost. What's next a social network? A Netflix me too? An amazon store? Gabel has lost his mind.

Lost ? There's been apps on Steam for ages now. What is the problem with a first party app to listen to music ??? With Steam OS it makes sense to have one.

LaP said,
Lost ? There's been apps on Steam for ages now. What is the problem with a first party app to listen to music ??? With Steam OS it makes sense to have one.

And who uses those apps? Apps on steam is a failure just like Linux games on steam.

neonspark said,
This company is seriously lost. What's next a social network? A Netflix me too? An amazon store? Gabel has lost his mind.

Yeah, they're totally lost as their user base continues to increase. I think you've lost it to be honest.

Not Valve though, as this isn't a music service, this is a music player for your local music collection, so you don't have to run a switch to another media player while gaming.

anothercookie said,
Everyone and their mother is coming out with a music service.

Any bets on who dies first?

You might have wanted to refer to music services dying, but you really should have worded that better.

virtorio said,
Not Valve though, as this isn't a music service, this is a music player for your local music collection, so you don't have to run a switch to another media player while gaming.

Helps knowing the details.

Crimson Rain said,
Steam bloat.

How is it in 2014 people still don't have the slightest clue what "bloat" really is.

Spoiler: It's not x added y feature that isn't useful for me.

Athernar said,

How is it in 2014 people still don't have the slightest clue what "bloat" really is.

Spoiler: It's not x added y feature that isn't useful for me.


It is bloat. Steam is heavy enough as it is, and they will not be able to optimize their music playing to the levels of Winamp.

I don't need this all in one thing that Valve wants Steam to be.

Shadowzz said,

It is bloat. Steam is heavy enough as it is, and they will not be able to optimize their music playing to the levels of Winamp.

I don't need this all in one thing that Valve wants Steam to be.

The in-game browser and now the music player are both very highly sought after features. Alt-tabbing out of a game is generally a pain in the arse as it you lose focus of the game itself, and it can (in many cases) cause issues with the game when you try to tab back in.

Having the web browser and music player on the in-game overlay makes it possible to remain in the game while doing stuff in between plays (i.e. while you're dead in counter-strike), and the music player will be a welcome addition for players that like to play with music (although not myself personally).

It's not bloat, as bloat refers to the process of making software slower or less easy to use for no perceptible gain. This has an obvious gain, with little downside other than increased application size. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it, but many people will.

Shadowzz said,

It is bloat. Steam is heavy enough as it is, and they will not be able to optimize their music playing to the levels of Winamp.

I don't need this all in one thing that Valve wants Steam to be.

Thank you for proving my point. You have no idea what bloat is, you're just really very selfish.

Crimson Rain said,
Never heard about media keys in keyboard I guess...

Because media keys are what I use when I switch artists.

Praetor said,
Good, so now i can listening to Louis Armstrong - It's a Wonderful World while shooting someone on Far Cry

/winthread

So it allows you to control music in the shift+tab overlay? That's actually kinda handy if you need it. For a second I thought this will be another crappy music streaming service.

People don't have media buttons on their keyboard?

I'm going to be annoyed if it starts interfering with my desktop music application