Valve have recently begun rolling out a new content distribution method through Steam known as "SteamPipe". SteamPipe will change the manner in which games are downloaded and stored on a machine, while also converting older file types (.gcf) over to a newer and more efficient VPK format.
A recent post on the Steam Support page has revealed that Orange Box Engine games will feature as the next batch of games to be transferred across to the new system. These games include Team Fortress 2, Day of Defeat: Source, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch and Counter-Strike: Source. Players can expect their games to undergo a one time conversion process, in which the files will be transferred from the old directories (located in "/steamapps/[username]/") to the newer directory (located in "/steamapps/common/"). This newer system will share the install directory between users, unlike the previous alternative which featured individual file locations for separate users. While this update won't directly affect ordinary players' gameplay experiences, it will apparently significantly improve games in the following areas;
Server hosts and modders should take note, as this update will change the way a variety of game and server systems run, so be sure to head on over to the Steam Support page at this link to avoid getting caught with your trousers down. Alternatively, head on over to the Team Fortress 2 Beta to test the new file system's functionality, as the Beta has already been updated to the VPK format. Newer game titles such as Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 already use the newer VPK format, so we look forwards to see how SteamPipe may help squeeze a little bit more performance out of everyone's favourite hat themed war simulator.