AMD has announced a coup over rival graphics specialist Nvidia: a deal with Valve that sees gamers given the option of updating their graphics card drivers over the Steam platform.
Steam users running ATI Radeon graphics cards, which the latest Steam Hardware Survey
suggests could be as high as 87 percent of DirectX 11 gamers, will be given the ability to check for updates via Valve's digital distribution platform - and to quickly install new driver versions in the same way as they install a game or demo.
Ben Bar-Haim, corporate vice president of AMD's software division, claims that the fit between his company and Valve is a good one because "AMD Gaming Evolved and Valve share the belief that 'Gamers Come First,' [and] we now have the opportunity to work together to help ensure the best possible experience for PC gamers.
Valve's director of business development Jason Holtman believes that the agreement will help keep gamers at the cutting edge of performance, stating that "PC gamers demand the most of their gaming hardware and providing these updates automatically will help ensure those playing via Steam are playing at optimal performance.
While the Steam platform is a well-established software distribution system for games publishers, this is the first time it's been used to spread updates for critical operating system files.
It's not yet known how the system will handle beta releases: gamers often upgrade to the bleeding-edge in order to eke out the maximum performance from their rigs or to fix a bug in a newly-published game, and if AMD fails to offer an opt-in beta system for receiving the very latest driver builds it could well end up with a much smaller uptake than it is expecting.
With AMD on board, Valve has given itself a pretty unique selling point in the games distribution market, but in order for it to capitalise on its success, it needs to capture the remaining segment of the market - which, unfortunately, means trying to convince Nvidia to follow in AMD's footsteps.
Are you pleased to see that keeping your graphics drivers up-to-date has just got that little bit easier, or worried that critical system files are now being rolled into Steam? Share your thoughts over in the forums