Moving your Steam installation from one PC to another has always been more of a “Technical workaround,” and less of a supported method of migrating games from Point A to B. This has been particularly true if you only wanted to change the installation location of a single title. Steam allows you to create a new folder on a separate drive to install games into without much argument, but it used to get grouchy if you tried to do it with games already installed to a specific system path. Now, a new client update has added the ability to move specific game folders without reinstalling a title or messing around with symlinks.
I run the beta version of the Steam client on my own hardware, so I can’t say for certain if this feature is packed into the most recent public release or if you have to be using the beta version to get it. Either way, it should be pushed out to customers in the not-too-distant future.
Click on Move Install Folder and you’ll be presented with a list of other valid Steam installation sites to move it to. Steam also seems to have cleaned up an error that would occur if you attempted to install a Steam library to a folder that already had data in it. Used to be, the operation would simply fail without any useful information on why. Now, trying to create a new Steam library on an SSD that already has one returns a message that this volume already contains a Steam Library, and that Steam will manage all game installations from this central location.
Right now, there’s no option to batch move multiple games, meaning you still have to shift titles one at a time. Cleanly moving an entire Steam account from one machine to another also still requires some workarounds from outside the application. Still, this kind of flexibility is welcome. Steam doesn’t improve quickly and the entire application needs an overhaul to clean up the UI, but this improvement does make game installation management easier.
Gabe Newell conducted an AMA this week, where he spoke about Valve’s plans for VR, its interest in hardware design, and plans for Steam. Newell was vague on this last part, but noted that the structure of Steam’s support is the platform’s biggest flaw, in his opinion. The company has added roughly 5x more support staff, as well as a new help and ticketing system. He notes, however, that “We still need to further improve response times and we are continually working to improve the quality of our responses. We’re also working on adding more support staff in regions around the world to offer better native language support and improve response times in various regions.”