A patent filed in March 2020 by Valve, which was recently uncovered by SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik on Twitter, shows that Valve is looking to implement a system that lets a Steam user play a game as it downloads with what the company calls “instant play.”
The way it works is that Steam will be able to track read operations of an executable file of any game. Steam will use this data to draw a digital map to prioritize specific game files during the download process, letting the player start playing the game without needing the download to finish.
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