Report: Valve billows Steam Cloud

"Near future" update to developer's digital distribution service allows server-side storage of game-generated data; auto driver updates, system-req checks on horizon.

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In February, reports flew that Orange Box developer Valve was planning major renovations to its digital delivery service Steam, which in part would include video and music downloads. Although the game maker wouldn't confirm at the time any new features for Steam, Valve marketing head Doug Lombardi did say that the service would see a number of new features to be announced soon.

At an event held yesterday at the company's Bellevue, Washington, headquarters, Valve unveiled one of those new initiatives: Steam Cloud. As reported by Maximum PC, when Steam Cloud launches in the "near future," all game-generated data, such as game saves, game profiles, preferences, and settings will be saved on the server side. As with other updates to the Steam client, Steam Cloud will be available at no charge.

The first games in which Steam Cloud will be implemented are Valve's own Half-Life, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike franchises. Turtle Rock Studios, which Valve acquired in January, will be the first developer to integrate the technology for a new game with Left4Dead, which is slated for release for the PC and Xbox 360 in November.

During its presentation, Valve reportedly dropped details on other upcoming updates to Steam. The service will at some future date be capable of automatically updating hardware drivers as well as running a system-requirements check that will give gamers an accurate reading on whether their rig can handle any given game. All of the new Steam features will reportedly be incorporated into Valve's development toolkit Steamworks, and third-party developers will be responsible for adding the functionality to their games.

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