Xbox and PlayStation systems let you use your own music, if you prefer it over the game soundtracks, so why not do the same thing on Steam? Steam Music is now officially a part of the popular gaming platform, and using it is about as simple as can be.
Steam Music debuted on Sept. 24, and much like the music player itself, the announcement was very low-key. In order to promote the new service, Valve is giving away soundtracks to its games, including Half-Life 2 and Portal, for free — provided that you already own the game in question, that is. To facilitate this, all of Valve's titles are on sale at a 75 percent discount until Oct. 1.
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Installing Steam Music is as simple as opening Steam, letting it install the latest update and restarting when prompted. You can also prompt the update manually by accessing the Steam menu in the upper left and clicking Check for Steam Client Updates.
Once your client is up to date, clicking on Library and Music will take you to the music player. If you don't have any soundtracks downloaded through Steam in your profile, fear not: You can use your own personal MP3 collection as well.
You can adjust the Music options in the general Steam Settings menu, including where your music is stored, how loud you want it to play and when you want it to pause (during voice chat, for example).
Unfortunately, at present, there's no option to supersede in-game music automatically. If you would rather listen to Dragonforce than the bucolic sounds of Goat Simulator, for example, you'll have to turn the music down manually in the game's settings menu.
Otherwise, Steam Music is a competent MP3 player, although it's probably not feature-rich enough to replace whatever you already use. Valve will likely continue to refine it in subsequent updates.