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Steam branches out into software distribution

Steam branches out into software distribution

Valve has confirmed that it will be bringing other software types, not just games, to Steam.

Valve has officially confirmed that it is to bring additional software types to its Steam digital distribution platform, expanding it from its current games-and-drivers focus.

Steam is an undoubted success: launched in 2003, the digital distribution platform has grown to include over 1,500 games and more than 40 million active user accounts. Although firm sales figures have never been released by Valve, Steam is believed to hold the majority share of the digital distribution market at somewhere between 50 and 70 per cent.

Traditionally, Steam has been used for one purpose: to sell and distribute games, both from Valve and from third-party publishers and developers. It does so extremely successfully - helped along by regular bargain-basement sales of older 'stock' - but Valve has clearly been looking beyond the games market for its next injection of growth.

Back in 2010, Valve announced a deal with AMD which saw the company's drivers added to the Steam platform. Those running AMD cards were given the option of having updates automatically downloaded and applied directly from Steam - the first hints that Valve was thinking about broadening the appeal of the platform.

Now Valve has gone the whole hog, announcing that non-gaming software will be rolled into the Steam platform. 'The software titles coming to Steam range from creativity to productivity,' the company not-at-all-vaguely explained in a statement to press late last night. 'Many of the launch titles will take advantage of popular Steamworks features, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and the ability to save your work to your personal Steam Cloud space so your files may travel with you.'

'The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games,' explained Valve's Mark Richardson of the move. 'They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests.'

The move to distribution of general-purpose software puts Valve in a position to grab a significantly larger market than just gamers, but also places the company in direct competition with the creators of the operating systems on which Steam operates. Microsoft is to be focusing on distributing software through its own Windows Store in the upcoming Windows 8 release, while Apple has its own Mac Store for OS X software. Even Canonical, makers of the Ubuntu Linux distribution to which Valve is porting Steam, have the Ubuntu Software Centre.

Whether Valve's desire to move out of pure gaming and into the lucrative general-purpose software market will mean friction with these one-time allies remains to be seen. The first titles will be appearing in Steam on the 5th of September, Valve has confirmed.

19 Comments

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mi1ez 9th August 2012, 11:56 Quote
Hmm... not sure what they'll be distributing. I can't see it being Office or Adobe CS.

The companies who I can see really aim to increase market share are open source companies. GIMP, LibreOffice etc.

Even that doesn't really apply on Linux though as they're already available through the repositories/software centres.
Hamfunk 9th August 2012, 12:00 Quote
If the Adobe products end up in a steam sale i know where my money is going!!!
azrael- 9th August 2012, 12:30 Quote
Didn't they already take a small step toward general software distribution when they started offering AMD drivers on STEAM?
Mankz 9th August 2012, 12:49 Quote
I'd love to see Nvidia etc. and the Add on card manufacturers auto update drivers through Steam or something.. However, its going to get to the point where the only program anyone has installed is Steam..
SighMoan 9th August 2012, 12:52 Quote
I can imagine Gabe swimming in a money vault full of cash whilst thinking up this idea, like Scrooge McDuck:

http://www.littlestuffedbull.com/images/comics/separated/sportoftycoons.jpg
Gareth Halfacree 9th August 2012, 12:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Didn't they already take a small step toward general software distribution when they started offering AMD drivers on STEAM?
Funny you should mention that...
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Article
Back in 2010, Valve announced a deal with AMD which saw the company's drivers added to the Steam platform. Those running AMD cards were given the option of having updates automatically downloaded and applied directly from Steam - the first hints that Valve was thinking about broadening the appeal of the platform.
:p
azrael- 9th August 2012, 13:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SighMoan
I can imagine Gabe swimming in a money vault full of cash whilst thinking up this idea, like Scrooge McDuck:

http://www.littlestuffedbull.com/images/comics/separated/sportoftycoons.jpg
I do that too, on occasion. I prefer lightly used banknotes, tbh. They're softer... ;)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Funny you should mention that... :p
Oh. Shame on me for not actually reading the article that thoroughly. :o Alas, great minds think alike. ;)
V3ctor 9th August 2012, 14:10 Quote
What happens if I don't have an internet connection, I press the "start in offline mode" button, it gives an error (that happens everytime) and doesn't start...
And I bought Office 2010 thru Steam and I need to open a document? :D
Lenderz 9th August 2012, 14:11 Quote
Personally I see no downsides to this, helps increase the security of our Steam accounts if they're making more money they're less likely to ever close the service, and having a central place to buy things is a nice thing, and with the Windows 8 store that'll likely become the default place to buy a lot of stuff and Steam is the only store with the presence to offer competition and choice at this point.

On a few lesser sites I've seen people raising issues either in story or in the comments regarding Steam DRM, and the multi user nature of most software other than the games.

Personally I don't perceive that as an issue, the level of DRM is decided by the developer/publisher that put their product on steam and I can't see them implementing the "must be signed into steam" option for running your anti virus or something (unless they're incredibly dumb) due to the shared nature of PC's. For the record there are some games sold on Steam you can run without running Steam just directly running the .exe and I imagine thats the way the majority of applications will be sold.
blacko 9th August 2012, 14:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by V3ctor
What happens if I don't have an internet connection, I press the "start in offline mode" button, it gives an error (that happens everytime) and doesn't start...
And I bought Office 2010 thru Steam and I need to open a document? :D

you use notepad that comes with windows haha.
schmidtbag 9th August 2012, 14:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenderz
Personally I see no downsides to this, helps increase the security of our Steam accounts if they're making more money they're less likely to ever close the service
I see the opposite effect - more products of different types makes maintenance more difficult, and hacking easier. This will also likely end up getting their servers to run even crappier than they do now (during big events).
Quote:
having a central place to buy things is a nice thing, and with the Windows 8 store that'll likely become the default place to buy a lot of stuff and Steam is the only store with the presence to offer competition and choice at this point.
True, but who said that was necessary? I'm not sure how the Windows 8 store will turn out as but I figure it will be like apple's app store, where most of it isn't games (or not big titles anyway). In my opinion, Valve is reaching into a market that is just going to complicate searching for products and probably cause issues with non-gaming software. For example, if you're the license owner of an office suite, it would be nice to put that office suite on a few of your computers at home. Generally speaking, its hardly considered piracy. If you have steam, you likely won't be able to easily set that up. Steam also seems to take a long time to fully prepare, so you'd need to wait for it to completely load before you can run any of your programs. This doesn't matter as much with games because you likely don't have a deadline when playing them. As another problem, any corporate or office environment is NOT going to allow steam on their computers, considering it only takes a quick logoff and you get to play whatever games you already own. I don't see home users getting steam for non-gaming purposes ever happening either. Imagine seeing your grandma opening up steam, only to find she's just doing her taxes.
Quote:
Personally I don't perceive that as an issue, the level of DRM is decided by the developer/publisher that put their product on steam and I can't see them implementing the "must be signed into steam" option for running your anti virus or something (unless they're incredibly dumb) due to the shared nature of PC's. For the record there are some games sold on Steam you can run without running Steam just directly running the .exe and I imagine thats the way the majority of applications will be sold.
AFAIK, the majority of games don't let you run their .exe without Steam. Keep in mind, the developers who don't care about Steam's DRM are probably hosting the game for other purposes like the servers or achievements - both of which other software won't care about. One of the greatest complaints of all time with developers is piracy, and Steam does a pretty good job at stopping it. I feel like their DRM is probably the one and only reason why companies would move to them for non-gaming purposes; and maybe getting advertised.


BTW I've got nothing against you, I'm just more annoyed that Valve thinks they can just jump into some random market and not consider the fact that there will be problems involved with it. If Valve made a separate client just like steam but for non-gaming purposes then I think that'd be great, but don't cram it all together in 1 program and 1 website.
DoctorBeat 9th August 2012, 15:18 Quote
Adobe Creative Suite on Steam Summer sale for 10 bucks... count me in :-)
Lenderz 9th August 2012, 16:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag


BTW I've got nothing against you, I'm just more annoyed that Valve thinks they can just jump into some random market and not consider the fact that there will be problems involved with it. If Valve made a separate client just like steam but for non-gaming purposes then I think that'd be great, but don't cram it all together in 1 program and 1 website.

Dude you're more than entitled to your opinion, I don't take it personally even if I don't agree. I perceive the Windows 8 store as a threat to an open windows eco-system, only being able to install metro apps on an x86 system if they're brought through Microsoft is too closed imo for what I want my desktop system for, and I believe Valve offering competition, potentially driving down prices is a good thing.

Also you're assuming that Valve haven't given this any thought, which is a bit presumptive as we don't know the model or methods they'll be using yet.

I agree there are dangers but Valve seem to have some pretty smart guys at the helm.
schmidtbag 9th August 2012, 17:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenderz
... I believe Valve offering competition, potentially driving down prices is a good thing.
That is definitely undoubtedly true. All I really want is Valve to not ship other applications in the same client with games. Packaging game utilities in steam is a little different, but I don't want Steam to become a resource full of crapware like Norton, registry cleaners, and a bajillion CD burning programs that all do the same thing. Look at download.com, interpret how much of that software you find to be worth your time, and imagine all of that being dumped into Steam. That isn't appealing to me at all. Gamers are a completely different market from non-gamers and Steam was built around gamers.
Quote:
Also you're assuming that Valve haven't given this any thought, which is a bit presumptive as we don't know the model or methods they'll be using yet.

I agree there are dangers but Valve seem to have some pretty smart guys at the helm.

I see why you think that, and it is presumptuous of me to think that this is immediately a bad idea. However, without explanation of how they're going to do this, all I can do is judge based on what I already know. So, if they're going to make 1 client program for games and non-games, then I don't see how they're going to organize this in a manner that will be appealing. The ads on Steam are pretty much the only ads I ever pay attention to. But, once I see an ad going from a great deal on a game to "Hot deals on this youtube downloader!", that's going to really piss me off. If I really wanted to see a bunch of crappy software I'd go to the Windows marketplace. If there's any software I sincerely care about, it likely doesn't need to be advertised in front of me.


If Valve can find an easy way to eliminate/separate all non-game related software from ads, searches, and my game list then I guess this won't really bother me at all. But, I doubt they'll do that.
Eiffie 9th August 2012, 20:19 Quote
Other digital download services such as Impulse already do this so it's nice to see it coming to steam.
ZERO <ibis> 10th August 2012, 02:39 Quote
Finally VNs on steam!?!!!!!!!!!!!
fluxtatic 10th August 2012, 07:34 Quote
I like this. I like it a lot. While I dislike the idea of the Windows store intensely (more for their 'we need to be more like Apple' attitude than anything else), I think Steam is brilliant.

Yeah, there might be some problems, but Steam doesn't control better than half of digital games distribution by not knowing what they're doing. MS, on the other hand, will find a way to hose it. Besides, I'm skipping WIn8 anyway, and where else will I find such digital distribution goodness? (la la la I can't hear you, Eiffie, la la la)

And to think, I didn't get on board until that fateful weekend they were giving away Portal for free. Dozens of games I haven't even downloaded yet later and...
Star*Dagger 11th August 2012, 18:40 Quote
Valve and the Prophet Newell, praise be upon his Steam, shall lead us out of the desert of Microsoft hegemony of the PC!

Yours in prognostication Plasma,
Star*Dagger
andyj87 11th August 2012, 23:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
I do that too, on occasion. I prefer lightly used banknotes, tbh. They're softer... ;)

Enjoy your paper cuts.


On topic though, steam already rules the PC games market, what is there to do once you are on the top other than expand into new territory? Hopefully they are cheaper than what they cost from the respective stores.
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