Valve seems to have quietly added a Steam feature that people have been asking about for a long time: the ability to add a game to your library without having to download it. That may seem like a small thing (and it really is), but it’s something that in the past players could only do through workarounds that didn’t provide the most convenient methods. It’s a feature that’s pretty much only useful when you’re downloading free games, but beyond that it seems to have a few uses as well.
This new Steam feature wasn’t published in any patch comment for Steam this week, so this unobtrusive feature was only noticed by people who shared news about it online after their discoveries. Twitter user Robot brush, for example, took a screenshot of the option in the image below (which you may need to expand) that shows the usual “Play Game” button next to a new one that says “Add to Library”. Fellow Twitter user morwul contextualized this for those who may not have understood what was going on from the first tweet alone.
Steam has added the “add to library” button without starting the installation process. Finally. https://t.co/rO5ywsJHLo
— Alejandro LL. (@Morwul) August 13, 2022
As others pointed out in the replies there and in other threads where this feature was discussed, this Add to Library option was already available to some extent. There was no dedicated button for this action, and to achieve a similar effect, players could end downloading a game at the first confirmation window that appears to add the game to your library but not download it at the time. That workaround is now essentially condensed into the one button you see pictured above.
For paid games, this isn’t really helpful to see how to buy the game anyway before adding it to your library. But given the prevalence of free-to-play games these days with no end to that monetization method, this feature will only become more useful as more free-to-play games are released. It’s also helpful if you claim free DLC for a game you already own.
A side note here is that it doesn’t seem to be an option on the Steam site at the moment and can only be found in the Steam app itself. It’s also unclear whether this Add to Library button is present on games that are temporarily free-to-play or free-to-own, as no games are promoted on Steam at this time, but those offers are never far apart, so we’ll get to that soon. see if the button works that way.