Available now in the Steam client beta, Steam Chat offers the ability to chat with other users on Steam with either group or individual messaging - via both text and voice - as well offering a host of improvements to the client's friends list.
The friends list now has a customizable favorites section at the top, for quick access to the people, groups, and chats you care about most.
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New features include a modernized chat experience, a more flexible friend list, group chats built for gaming, and more. Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: these new group chats are very similar to Discord's servers.
As mentioned before, the chat window will now expand and show any media that is posted on it without needing to open the link, applying to videos, images, gifs, tweets, and more. The company didn't elaborate on the general improvements, but it did say that you can quickly see if your friends are in a voice chat right from your friends list, and that you should notice "clear, crisp voice quality before, during, and after your games". This keeps your IP address private, which masks your physical location and also prevents network attacks.
In many ways, the new Steam Chat resembles the popular voice-chat service Discord, so gamers already using that service will likely be familiar with the functionality already.