Steam’s new, handsome “Library” update is better 16 years late than never

While we prefer our

Enlarge / While we prefer our “handsome PC game box” collections with gatefold covers and lenticular prints, we’re still pretty charmed by Steam’s upcoming update. (credit: Valve)

As the West’s largest source of downloadable computer games, Steam has faced immense scrutiny for just about every one of its practices. Among its less controversial choices is one of its most dated: the “Steam Library” tab, where you find and load the games you’ve already purchased. What could be sensational about that?

But if you’re interested in usability, this might be Steam’s most offensive element. This interface, which revolves around a collapsible plain-text list, has remained the same since Steam’s 2003 launch. It might have made sense in Steam’s early years, but anyone who owns more than 50 games—a reasonable count after 16 years, between standard games and crazily discounted ones—knows that this interface does more to hide your oldies-but-goodies than to expose them.

The 2012 launch of a TV-friendly “Big Picture” mode didn’t resolve this issue; if anything, its (wholly optional) oversized icons and text compounded the problem. But now, as the PC game-launcher space begins rapidly heating up, Steam has finally followed through on a promise to smooth over its game-launcher interface. Behold: the brand-new Steam Library, coming as an opt-in beta on Thursday, September 17.

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