Steam adopts Skype chat codec

Valve implements Silk online voice communication format, promising "significant quality improvement" at expense of increased bandwidth use.

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Steam Guard won't be the only new feature Valve is introducing to its digital distribution and online-gaming platform this month. Beyond the new security measure, Valve today announced that it has updated Steam's voice chat system with the Silk audio codec, better known as the compression format used by online-communication leader Skype.

Skype's Silk spreads to Steam.

According to Valve, the Silk codec will offer a "significant quality improvement" over Steam's previous communication technology. However, that voice-quality enhancement won't come without its drawbacks, as Valve said that the new codec may require increased bandwidth in certain situations.

Whereas the old system required 15kbps of bandwidth, the Silk protocol features a dynamic bit rate that fluctuates between 8kbps and 30 kbps. This range hinges upon "the range of data in the voice signal and current network conditions," Valve said. The studio also said that it has improved voice chat connectivity and reliability with the update.

The switch-over to the new Silk codec is effective for all Steam users as of today. It can be activated by clicking the "Start Voice Chat" button in either individual or group-chat scenarios, and it is also available for in-game communication.

Discussion

37 comments
Gallego
Gallego

yes fantastic, yet it still crashes when more than 7 people are in voice chat....

bigkahunabuger
bigkahunabuger

Valve is one of the all time great devs, steam is simply amazing and they make some of the best games out there, and then they release constant updates that improve the games hugely

AndyLF
AndyLF

@John_Read Blizzard is great company, but Valve cares about their customers far more. 60 Euros for DIGITAL download for Starcraft 2? No Lan support for Starcarft 2? Split community to 5 regions? As much as I love Blizzard, Valve is much better company to my eyes :)

Ricnic67
Ricnic67

You are fantastic valve. You give us free DLC like things for our games, and now this? You guys are awesome.

John_Read
John_Read

@Sirbobislost blizzard takes more time than Valve

73X
73X

I love you, Valve.

DITHRICH
DITHRICH

bravo steam. taking other peoples ideas ummm............. as usual!

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Good news, but I thought this would integrate Steam and Skype together which I was excited for. I prefer using Skype, but the Steam overlay is extremely useful.

Pickleking23
Pickleking23

Very nice, I never really used their old chat. But might have to give it a shot. Steam just gets better and better.

Chaotik91
Chaotik91

Valve has always made smart decisions in how they handle their software, this just goes to show that.

Mar044
Mar044

skype allowed me to chat for cheap, i glad they signed with sype, by far a structure for future gaming needs.

Wula_
Wula_

Awesome to hear. Now I won't have to have skype running in the BG when I do co-op/multiplayer gaming with friends.

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@2bitSmOkEy except for taking far far FAR to with half life2 and its episodes

elozl
elozl

Excellent move! One more reason to love Steam Gaming! xD

finaleve
finaleve

@2bitSmOkEy They do, usually by not releasing any information whatsoever on Half-Life 2 Ep 3 but once it comes out, all will be forgiven.

firedrakes
firedrakes

my god 30kps is so a heavy bandwidth... hmm my 25mb might not be able to handle it

CJ45_
CJ45_

Wish PSN would adopt Skype...

toddx77
toddx77

Steam is going to be bigger than itunes :)

--Thomas--
--Thomas--

Skype is hands-down the best voice chat software on the market in terms of audio quality. Great to see that Valve is adopting it!

Little_Socrates
Little_Socrates

That's pretty awesome. Don't have to run Skype with it too that way.

Bangerman15
Bangerman15

also available for in game?? yayyy sweet :))

shimya
shimya

sounds like a fair trade off. The sound quality was not too bad, skype's codec is pretty sweet. Good Job Valve :D

metalkid9
metalkid9

I remember back in the day me and my friends used to use skype anyway when we played on steam. but it's still great to have the feature within steam

metalkid9
metalkid9

brilliant idea! way to go steam!

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

Very cool. The previous codec was okay, but when playing Left 4 Dead or other team FPS' my friends would usually insist on getting a Skype call together. The quality difference is noticeable.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

Does Valve ever do anything wrong? The answer is no, no they do not.

Bowser05
Bowser05

I highly approve. Excellent.

SgtSilock
SgtSilock

Can't complain, can't complain at all!

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

I really hope Valve goes public so I can invest. Steam is turning out to be a juggernaut for digital distribution. Valve is just an overall fantastic company.

desauce
desauce

Awesomeness, Steam is the S**T!!!

d3nyd
d3nyd

Very cool. Skype's codec is crystal clear. It'll be nice hearing some good quality from Steam's voice chat too.