A new Steam beta released on September 23rd made a very big change to the platform, removing a feature that was often used by a lot of players: the ability to revert back to a previous version of the game. According to SteamDB, it seems like regular customers will no longer be able to access previous versions of games, and will only have access to the latest build, unless permitted by the developer. Thankfully, it seems that these older software versions have not been removed, but this change could have a very big impact for a lot of players, most notably modders, those in the speedrunning community, and those interested in preservation.
Sometimes, mods need specific software versions to work, and modders have been forced to go back to previous builds in order to make sure that the mods they create continue to work. The same can be said for speedrunners, who often exploit glitches or issues that might end up patched out. Some game preservationists have appreciated having access to these older builds, and being able to track the progress that has been made. As SteamDB points out, the option has also allowed players to circumvent controversial changes that are made to games.
“This ‘undocumented’ feature of Steam may be seen as a downside from developers and publishers side, especially when it could be used to download pre-release builds if one had a Manifest ID of these builds,” SteamDB writes. If that is the case, the site actually proposes that a compromise could be made, where developers could have the option to delete unwanted older versions of games.
At this time, it’s unclear if this change was an intentional move on Steam’s part, or if the option might be changed back before the stable version goes live. Steam’s casual audience probably won’t notice any change, but a lot of other users will, and it will make the experience less enjoyable, as a result. Hopefully, Steam takes the opinions of these users into account before making any final decisions. For now, fans will just have to wait and see what happens!
How do you feel about these changes to Steam? Have you ever taken advantage of this feature? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!