I have a confession to make: I've despised Steam for years now. I just cant stand to look at it – looking like it came out of the '80s the way it does. For all their problems, I'd much rather use Origin, GOG, or yes, even the Epic Games Store. Go ahead and get the booing out of your system now – it's not going to change my mind.
However, now that PC Gaming Week is here, and I have an excuse to poke around and just relish in PC gaming, I went ahead and activated the latest Steam Library beta, and I'm never going back.
Tiles are underrated
For the longest time, the Steam library was this barren list of PC games, and before you selected something a good portion of the screen was completely barren. Then, when you did select something, a good deal of information would populate beneath that "Play" button, along with your achievements – something the Epic Games Store still doesn't have – along with news and your installed DLC. That's all well and fine, unless you have a high resolution display.
If you're playing on a 2,560 x 1,440 display or sharper, it's likely that you still had a ton of wasted gray space on your library page, even when you had a game selected. Before I downloaded the new library beta, I would not stand for this. It got to a point that, rather than using Steam, I would just hit the start button and type in the name of the game I wanted to play. I probably could have left it at that.
Look, I know I'm making a big deal out of what is simply an interface that I could completely ignore, especially when the world is full of so many other more important issues. But, the aesthetic matters to me.
On the other hand, when you load up either GOG Galaxy or Origin, the colorful game art is the first thing you're greeted with. With Galaxy, you get these adorable little virtual shelves that your games are stored upon. It's a nice touch, and makes it feel like you're actually collecting something.
Aside from Steam, Epic Games Store is probably the weakest here, but at least there you still get to see some game tiles, but there it's far too slow and inconvenient to browse through without frustration. Hey, at least Epic finally added a search function.
Luckily, Steam is finally up there with the best of them once again – in a market it basically created.
That Steam beta update, though
Now that I've covered just how broken my brain is, it's important to note that everything is better now. Well, with the Steam library, at least.
The other day, I spotted a post over on PCGamesN that detailed how to add custom artwork to your Steam library. That alone was enough to make me download the beta, and once it was updated, I was blown away. I spent about an hour going through a subreddit dedicated to art for the Steam Grid, and got some lovely animated thumbnails for some of my favorite games, including the Witcher 3, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.
The time-wasting could have ended there, but I wanted to custom tune my Steam library even more. You see, when you first install this beta update, you'll be greeted by a single row of "recent games" with your entire Steam library underneath. That wasn't good enough for me.
You've always been able to divide your games into different categories, but this new Library update takes it to another level. Underneath the row of "recent games", you'll see a button to add a new shelf. Click that, then click the drop-down for "choose a shelf" and you can display any of your Steam game categories, whether it's just "Favorites" or a custom group, like my "Final Fantasy, Duh" category.
I spent more time than I'm willing to admit thinking up new categories, so I could have a row for each of my unstable moods. Looking back on it, it was probably time well spent: my Steam library will be prepared for all the new games I add to it when Black Friday comes rolling around.
At the end of the day, I still have some problems with Steam, especially when it comes to how it polices its content, but this library update is more than enough to keep me placated for a little while. I know for a fact that I will likely spend more time finding custom art for all of my games than actually playing my games. And, really, isn't that what PC gaming is all about?
Welcome to TechRadar's PC Gaming Week 2019. We're celebrating the most powerful gaming platform on Earth with in-depth articles, exclusive interviews and essential buying guides that showcase everything PC gaming has to offer. Visit our PC Gaming Week 2019 page to see all our coverage in one place.