Valve changes Steam auto update schedules to lower bandwidth stress in homes

The total online and concurrent player numbers of Steam have been continuously breaking records since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many countries to initiate lockdowns and inform people to stay in their homes. Earlier today, the total player count reached over 23.5 million.

Now, Valve has made some changes to the Steam client's game update behavior, but it isn't due to bandwidth issues on the company's end. "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," said a Valve blog post today.

With the earlier settings used by Steam, all games that haven't been played recently would be scheduled to auto-update during the next off-peak period locally. But from now on, these downloads will get delayed and be spread out over multiple days.

Moreover, only games that have been played during the last three days will be triggered to auto-update immediately whenever a developer publishes a patch. Obviously, any sidelined updates will begin downloading immediately if a Steam user resumes it manually or tries to play the game.

Valve also pointed users towards the multitude of facilities Steam provides for managing their downloads, such as disabling auto-updates for specific games, throttling download speeds to not choke out connections, and custom update schedules, among others.

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