valve Seems to have been working on some very exciting updates steamI recently discovered a patent from a developer that, among other things, allows users to play games while downloading—similar to what they can do on consoles today (in some cases).
In short, this is a system that allows Steam to track the read operations performed by the exe file of a given game in order to map the content and frequency of data being accessed. For example, Valve will use this telemetry technology to prioritize certain files during the download process so that players can start using them as early as possible without waiting for the entire process to complete.
The same technology can also help Steam delete unused files without affecting the integrity of the game, such as when you need to free up some space. Valve explained that this can even help prefetching certain files to reduce delays in loading.
Of course, this type of system is not entirely new. Playing games while downloading is one of the selling points of PS4 and Xbox One, and now PS5 and Xbox Series X/S are also using the same technology.
In fact, Valve itself tried this version as early as 2015 when it launched Mortal Kombat 10, setting the game to download in smaller chunks. It eventually backfired, causing many problems and forcing Valve to take it down.
In fact, even the idea of making certain files independent to reduce the space occupied by the game is also a feature often used by Call of Duty, allowing players to selectively download/remove certain components, such as modes, higher resolution textures, etc., while retaining them I want to play.