Why is Steam displaying a game content conversion dialog?

Martin Brinkmann
May 1, 2013
Updated • May 4, 2013

If you are using Steam and have Team Fortress 2, CounterStrike Source, Half-Life 2 Deathmatch or Day of Defeat Source installed, you may have noticed a "Game content conversion" prompt when you tried to launch one of the aforementioned games.

The message states that "Steam needs to convert game content for "your game" to a new, more efficient format" and that it "will require an Internet connection and a few minutes' time". The message should appear the next time you are starting the game. Note that it will take a while before you can start the game if you go ahead with the conversion. If you do not want the game to be converted at that point in time, click on the cancel button when the prompt appears.

You are probably wondering what is going on in regards to the conversion. Let me fill you in on the details.

Valve is upgrading the games mentioned above to the SteamPipe distribution system. This is Steam's new content distribution system that changes how games are downloaded and stored on the system they are downloaded to. According to Valve, it has several advantages for players including faster downloads, game boot and map load times, easier management of mods and better dedicated server distribution.

steam game content conversion The conversion may take a couple of minutes - usually between 5 and 15 minutes - and it is necessary to download some files from Valve's server in the process. Valve notes that games will take up more space on the hard drive as a consequence as Source engine files are no longer shared between games.

Games are also moved to a new location. Previously, they were stored under [steam folder]/steamapps/[username]/game name/ whereas now they are stored under [steam folder]/steamapps/common/game name/ instead.

All files that are downloaded from game servers are now placed in the /game name/download/ folder. Already downloaded files are moved into the folder as well. All custom modifications need to be put in to the /game name/custom/ folder now. To separate customizations, use different subfolders in the directory.

The prompt is currently only displayed if you try to launch one of the four games mentioned above. Other games, like Dota 2, are already using the new system.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Ted said on January 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I didn’t have too many problems with this. So, I didn’t care too much!

  2. Erik said on August 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    It also seems to happen to me when i try to play Garry’s Mod 13. However, when did this “conversion”, my game started to act up seriously.I’m not sure if this was the reason or maybe it was my addons. I don’t know, and i’m very confused.

  3. Ivan said on July 20, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Add Portal to the list

  4. John said on June 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Well, at least things are going a bit quicker for me than 2% every 6 minutes. Seems like interruptions like this one are one thing we can rely on from future gaming.

  5. Chris said on June 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    OMFG, this pisses me the fuck upbecause i just got my new headset and everything got on steam opend up gmod what do u know, FML. it took 6 mins for it to be 2%. I just want to die D:

  6. Anonymous said on May 14, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Why I took century to finish the contents conversion?

    Due to my crappy Vaio, Windows 8 or due to the crappier Steam system?

    Steam really sucks big balls, I have to admit. Maybe playing with PS3 is a muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhh better experience.

    1. Anonymous said on September 22, 2013 at 5:35 am



  7. Giygas said on May 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve currently tried skins with TF2, and it doesn’t appear to be working.

  8. afgh said on May 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Will this affect any selfmade changes to my game config?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      I can’t say with 100% certainty. If I had to guess, I would say no.

  9. Paul said on May 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Maybe this will break some old addons for CS 1.6?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 1, 2013 at 9:59 am

      This is currently only done for Source games and not pre-source games like CS 1.6.

  10. solidstate said on May 1, 2013 at 6:59 am

    I had other games go through this process a couple months ago and I don’t own any Valve/Source games.

  11. Giygas said on May 1, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Seems interesting. Might take a bit of getting used to if you’re more familiar with the already current layout, but I suppose this change is for the best, right?

  12. Dexter said on May 1, 2013 at 6:08 am

    ….Valve games will be stored like every other nonvalve game on Steam and the won’t be using gcf

  13. Dexter said on May 1, 2013 at 6:07 am

    So, basicly

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.