Valve's Steam distribution system continues to evolve into more of a social gaming platform. After an apparently short beta period entailing some 440,000 testers, the new Steam Community is now live. The update's features are detailed here, and some of them look pretty compelling.
All game-related content, from discussions threads to screenshots to workshop items, is now organized into hubs tied to each title. Every game has a hub, and player votes determine which content floats to the top. Although player-created groups don't get their own content pools, they have been given separate discussion areas. Looks like Valve has also made it easier for folks to browse groups they might like to join.
The Steam Community lives off user-generated content, and the latest update is supposed to make it easier for gamers to manage all their uploads. Yes, there's an image wall. What social-savvy community would be without one? Friends are an essential ingredient, too, but that section of the Steam interface has been separated from the Community pages and now exists on its own. Players have the ability to set their status—"still waiting for Episode 3," perhaps—and comment on a Facebook-like feed of content from their friends.
Admittedly, I've never really gotten into the social side of gaming services. I do miss the camaraderie, trash talking, and other social aspects of the LAN parties of my youth, though. The Steam Community might be the next best thing.