Valve is scaling back how much internet bandwidth Steam will consume by nixing the auto-update feature for most of the titles in your PC gaming library.
The company is introducing the change in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which is creating a surge in internet traffic from so many people now working at home. In Steam’s case, the platform has seen user activity explode to a record 23 million concurrent gamers on a daily basis.
So to help free up network capacity, Valve is modifying Steam’s auto-update feature to only activate for games you’ve played in the last three days.
“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,” the company said in a Monday blog post explaining the change.
Typically, Steam likes to ensure all your games are running the latest version, no matter the last time they’ve been played. As a result, the Steam client will consistently download new software updates, which can needlessly consume gigabytes of data.
But starting this week, users can expect the auto updates to stop, except for games they play on a near-daily basis. “As always, the game will begin updating immediately if you request to play it, and you can always initiate an update (or pause it indefinitely) through the Download Manager,” Valve said.
The company is also working on additional solutions to help free up network capacity. In the meantime, Valve is directing users to consider calibrating when they’d like auto updates to proceed over the Steam client. For instance, users can choose to set bandwidth limits or schedule what time the software downloads should occur.
“You can self-throttle your own connection to Steam,” Valve added. “This might ease the load on your network connection, and may help ease bandwidth loads if network traffic in your area needs to be reduced.”
Others including Microsoft and Sony have also begun slowing download speeds on Xbox and PlayStation game updates to help reduce the strain on internet networks. So don’t be surprised if your game downloads lag during the pandemic.