The other day Valve announced Steam Cloud, a free Steam system that will retain users’ saved games and configuration files indefinitely.
As well as online save files Steam Cloud will also remember your key mappings too. If offline the service will store any saved information for when you next connect and then automatically update your profile. Other features Valve are working on are auto driver updates, calendar functionality and a system-requirement checker to make sure your PC can play the games you want to play.
Randomly enough Mike and I were discussing possible next steps in technological advancements and we were both agreed that the way forward is mobility within digital distribution. Valve themselves have been the advocates of digital distribution for a few years and have set an impossibly high standard for other companies to follow, which is why most seem happy with distribution through Steam.
The idea that personal information could be transferred between mediums is as old as the internet with services like MSN and Yahoo Messenger starting the concept in the 90’s and social networking sites like Facebook and bebo have taken that idea a step further in the 00’s. Not to be left out of the mobility idea Google have even come up Google sync which allows you to take your browser settings to any PC you use.
On the hardware side of things Apple also picked up the torch of mobility and then ran all the way to the bank with iPods and the iphone which automatically sync with iTunes on your pc. Flash memory is getting larger and cheaper, enabling storage devices like the iPod to be able to carry more for less. Similarly the internet is getting faster and more reliable to be able to handle the modern day demands of a fast moving society.
Microsoft too, has been working on mobility in Hardware with its Live and media extender services which in a similar effort to Steam have been all about moving your Gamercard to your friend’s Xbox, keeping your settings and keeping track of your progress with the achievement collection.
The concept of Steam cloud is not only a great idea it’s also what everyone has been waiting for since gaming first took off in the 70’s and is a welcome addition to Steam’s already mobile concept, with it comes the freedom carrying your personal settings without lugging your tower everywhere.