A couple of days ago Valve released its Beta Steam Mobile app for Android and iOS. Steam, as we know, is the video game digital distribution platform that has quickly become one of the Internet’s friendliest and also its most used. Valve also slowly rolled out the Beta access to its customers through the Steam Inventory (customers with access can send other customers the invite). The mobile app itself is a little rough around the edges – nothing new here because Steam itself is a little rough around the edges. Moreover, it is to be noted that this is still a work in progress for the most part.
The Steam Mobile app came as a direct request from Steam’s fans, as Valve President Gabe Newell says:-
The Steam app comes from many direct requests from our customers. Seeing which of your friends are online and playing a game, sending quick messages, looking at screenshots for an upcoming game, or catching a sale — these are all features customers have requested. Mobile is changing way people interact, play games and consume media, and the Steam app is part of our commitment to meet customer demands and expand the service functionality of Steam to make it richer and more accessible for everyone.
The app starts with the a mobile version of the “Friends” window which shows your friend list and also shows who is playing what game. Clicking on a friend’s name will initiate a chat thread with that person (although that did not load completely in my case).
Pressing the app key on the Android brings up the menu with several options like Catalog, Wishlist, Search, Groups, Steam News and so on listed. Clicking on any one of these options is supposed to display the corresponding option, but that did not happen with me.
Again, I must remind the readers that this is a beta application so I am not holding any of these against the app. So when it does eventually come out of beta, it should have all of these features.
In short, Steam Mobile is everything that Steam offers minus the most important thing: the game itself. I imagine people will chat with their friends and set up matches for the evening (instead of talking to them through more conventional means, because obviously a smartphone cannot make calls or send texts) or get that ridiculously low priced sale that is on only for the two minutes that you are browsing Steam Mobile. Snide comments apart, it can be a useful way of spending time with folks you only know through Steam, or buying an impromptu gift for someone discreetly. More on this as it gets better.