Steam has made changes to auto-updates in light of record-breaking user activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
This weekend the PC games platform broke its all-time record for concurrent active users for the third weekend in a row, as countries around the world isolate amid the virus outbreak.
In a blog post published on Monday, Valve said that in order to manage Steam’s bandwidth it would make changes to auto game updates and also listed recommendations for how users can set their own optimal behaviour.
“For games that haven’t been played recently, Steam has already been scheduling updates for the next off-peak local time period. Beginning this week, we are now spreading these updates out over several more days,” it explained.
“Only games played within the last 3 days will be updated immediately. 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.”
The company said that it believes the best solution for most users is to take advantage of Steam’s existing throttling and scheduling features to set their own optimal behaviour.
Its list of suggestions include:
- Schedule auto-update windows! This will ensure that Steam doesn’t start updating a game while you’re in the middle of your work day.
- If you don’t play a game in your library often, you can keep it installed but choose to no longer download automatic updates.
- You can self-throttle your own connection to Steam. 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.
- Take advantage of Library Folders settings, so you can move infrequently-played games from an SSD to a storage HDD. This is usually better for you (and your bandwidth) rather than uninstalling the game and needing to re-download it later.
Sony has moved to slow PlayStation download speeds in the US and Europe, while Microsoft has said it’s attempting to push “higher-bandwidth activities” like game updates during off-peak hours.
This month both Nintendo and Xbox online services experienced downtime, with Microsoft confirming its own outage was due to increased demand.