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Valve releases SteamWorks toolset for free

Valve releases SteamWorks toolset for free

SteamWorks is a free new distribution toolset for indie gamers.

If you've ever toyed with game development or championed your favourite indie title to your web-friends then you'll know that although making a game is hard, it's actually selling the game that's really tough. Getting recognition and making money is where a lot of PC game developers fall down, as pointed out by the folks at Introversion in their first bit-tech developer column.

Hooray for Valve then, which has just released SteamWorks - a complete suite of publishing tools - for free.

SteamWorks is a toolset which contains all that developers will need to publish their own games with all the mod cons. The system offers real-time stats on sales and gameplay minutiae, encryption tied to product activation to help prevent piracy, territorial control to help combat the grey market and automatic update management ala Steam.

On top of this, the system offer players real-time online voice chat in games, matchmaking support, social networking frameworks for achievement systems and group pages and a treasure trove of QA and play-testing bits. As we all know, you can never have too much QA.

Valve is dishing the full skinny in the official announcement but, yes, just to ram the point home; it is all entirely free. That needed repeating, I think.

So, developers can now focus on just creating good games and not worry about all the publishing nonsense. SteamWorks allows games to be published quickly over Steam, or other competing platforms.

"By not charging for this, it's just another way to get more people onto Steam and to enjoy all the games. Our motivations here are pretty clear," Said Jason Holtman, business director for Valve.

Is Steam the way forward for PC gaming, or do you hate the idea of digital distribution? Let us know what you think in the forums.

42 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Zurechial 30th January 2008, 11:11 Quote
Absolute legends.

This is just the good news the industry needs after the previous report regarding poor PC-Game sales.

I love buying games on Steam, I only wish it had a greater selection (more big-names and more RPGs would be nice, for instance).
Hopefully this will be a step towards curing that.
TommyVD 30th January 2008, 11:14 Quote
I think Microsoft with Games For Windows should take a page out of Valve's book.
Tim S 30th January 2008, 11:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurechial
Absolute legends.

This is just the good news the industry needs after the previous report regarding poor PC-Game sales.

I love buying games on Steam, I only wish it had a greater selection (more big-names and more RPGs would be nice, for instance).
Hopefully this will be a step towards curing that.

I agree - this is good for the PC games industry as it really needs to move away from point of sale to something that's a bit more secure and kicks piracy in the nuts without invasive copy protection. There needs to be a reason for PC gamers to want to buy games these days and inconveniences like invasive copy protection schemes is enough to make people fire up BitTorrent.
TTmodder 30th January 2008, 11:36 Quote
Neat-O. Should make it easier for small game developers to get busy.
DXR_13KE 30th January 2008, 11:47 Quote
these guys are geniuses!!!!
Cupboard 30th January 2008, 12:40 Quote
A minor point - how are they going to pay for the bandwidth costs?
koola 30th January 2008, 13:16 Quote
Point-of-sale is never going away. There are still too many people who hate digital distribution, me included to an extent.

Value have suddenly made PC Gaming for devs very easy :D
naokaji 30th January 2008, 13:29 Quote
i dont see it as a big threat to retail just yet, its aimed at giving games that woudnt sell otherwise (or only in small numbers so shops dont stock them) a plattform for advertising and distribution.

once the world gets rid of slow internet though (i.e. once the change from copper to fibre happened) and when hdd's will cost even less by then it could certainly become the main source of pc game sales. if retail would go away and steam (or similar plattforms) would take over the issue about kids and violent games would also be solved since you need a cc to purchase them (i.e. kids wont be able to buy them anymore).
Phil Rhodes 30th January 2008, 13:55 Quote
Um, excuse me - point of order.

The question still remains unanswered as to what we're going to do when Steam evaporates like, well, steam, as at some point it inevitably will.

I'll forestall the inevitable claim that Valve will never go out of business - people would have said the same about Cavedog at the height of Total Annihilation's powers. The reich will not last for a thousand years. And when it falls, as it obviously will at some point, whether that's in two, five, or ten years, every single thing anyone has bought - at least tens of millions' worth - will vanish with the next Windows reinstall.

This is not a hypothetical concern for me. I own a fully legitimate copy of the audio edit software Sound Forge - not a cheap item. The version I own was the last released by Sonic Foundry before they were bought out by Sony. Now, whenever I want to install it, I have to argue my way through thick layers of bureaucratic incompetence at Sony HQ before someone can be arsed to dig out the official keygen. Quite frequently I'm told "we don't support that anymore", as if I'm supposed to roll over and buy a new version because it's convenient for them.

Valve have very vaguely mumbled something about having a plan for this situation, but I remain unconvinced. Until it's in the EULA it's vapourware. In the hypothetical circumstance of Valve being wound up, it's impossible to imagine any liquidator agreeing to spend company money creating a no-Steam patch for the huge amount of software they will by that point have distributed on the system.

Until recently, it was understood that software licences were in perpetuity. It's no secret that outfits like Microsoft would adore the idea of renting windows to us, monthly. But if this sort of paradigm is going to be implemented, it should not be by the back door, which is what Steam is clearly trying to do. There are very serious problems and very trying unanswered questions with Steam, and until they are addressed I will have nothing to do with it.
Cobalt 30th January 2008, 14:27 Quote
By the time Valve dies steam will be far from the only digital distribution system (competition is whats going to kill steam, it won't just disappear one day like you suggest), in which case its likely the content will be sold to those other platforms to squeeze the last drop of money out of it. In which case you would probably be able to install through those. This relies somewhat on the good will of the platform devs but I'm sure a class action suit would sort any problems out if they decided to be difficult.

Steam isn't the only thing valve/vivendi does and they have pretty much the same status as MS or IBM, albeit on a smaller scale. They have their fingers in so many pies and they've created a dependant market so any "death" which may or may not occur will be long and protracted enough that they would probably be able to sort these problems out for themselves. It even makes more business sense. By creating the no-steam patch they reduce dependence on their bandwidth.

I imagine that the platform itself would continue to exist in some form or another for a long time after valve goes under.
E.E.L. Ambiense 30th January 2008, 14:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
I agree - this is good for the PC games industry as it really needs to move away from point of sale to something that's a bit more secure and kicks piracy in the nuts without invasive copy protection. There needs to be a reason for PC gamers to want to buy games these days and inconveniences like invasive copy protection schemes is enough to make people fire up BitTorrent.

Abso-f*%#in-lutely. Great news.
Firehed 30th January 2008, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
There needs to be a reason for PC gamers to want to buy games these days and inconveniences like invasive copy protection schemes is enough to make people fire up BitTorrent.

Agreed. I want to support the developers, but if they're making software that I can't even run because they lock it down so much, it's going to be THEIR loss. For all of the issues that I've had with Steam at one point or another, not being able to play something because of copy protection has never been one of them.
TreeDude 30th January 2008, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cupboard
A minor point - how are they going to pay for the bandwidth costs?

The publishing software is the free part. I'm sure if they put the game up for actual sale on Steam, Valve will take a percentage of the profits. This simply means there are no upfront costs other than development. This is still awesome though because of the popularity of Steam. We may see more small time devs make it big.
steveo_mcg 30th January 2008, 14:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firehed
Agreed. I want to support the developers, but if they're making software that I can't even run because they lock it down so much, it's going to be THEIR loss. For all of the issues that I've had with Steam at one point or another, not being able to play something because of copy protection has never been one of them.

Very true, never did get round to playing bioshock for just that reason.
DXR_13KE 30th January 2008, 14:57 Quote
maybe create a torrent system..... the more you upload the more discount you get on your future purchases, even getting as low as free games for the top uploaders ...... this would drive bandwidth cost down and profit up, and would make people buy more games and prices would go down.......
TreeDude 30th January 2008, 15:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DXR_13KE
maybe create a torrent system..... the more you upload the more discount you get on your future purchases, even getting as low as free games for the top uploaders ...... this would drive bandwidth cost down and profit up, and would make people buy more games and prices would go down.......

Cool idea, but getting a game for free just for being a seeder is a bit extreme. Maybe 15-20% max. Of coarse those with better internet connections would be at a big advantage.
naokaji 30th January 2008, 15:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeDude
Cool idea, but getting a game for free just for being a seeder is a bit extreme. Maybe 15-20% max. Of coarse those with better internet connections would be at a big advantage.

the problem would be the very slow upload speeds people have avalaible... uk has like 1,2mb max as upload speed for non corporate connections. it could work in countries like sweden though where you can easily get 100/100 mb down / up connections.
Phil Rhodes 30th January 2008, 15:36 Quote
> (competition is whats going to kill steam, it won't just disappear one day like you suggest)

Well obviously it will at some point, it's just a case of when.

> in which case its likely the content will be sold to those other platforms

Is it? Says who? Where's it written down? According to which legally-binding paperwork?

> This relies somewhat on the good will of the platform devs

No ****, Sherlock. Actually it relies entirely on the goodwill of the administrating legal team of whatever company has gone belly-up. So we're relying on the goodwill and public-spiritedness of corporate lawyers. Oh, that'll be OK, then.

> but I'm sure a class action suit

Against what? A company that's in Chapter 11? Good freakin' luck!

> I imagine that the platform itself would continue to exist in some form or another for a long time after valve goes under.

Lots of imagining going on here, yes.

Phil
TreeDude 30th January 2008, 18:40 Quote
All they really need is a way to burn the games to DVDs in an installable format. They could implement that now, that way people who reformat often don' need to redownload the game. Seems like an easy solution to me.
Hamish 30th January 2008, 20:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeDude
All they really need is a way to burn the games to DVDs in an installable format. They could implement that now, that way people who reformat often don' need to redownload the game. Seems like an easy solution to me.

dont need an installable format, just copy/paste :P
TreeDude 30th January 2008, 21:42 Quote
Quote:

This is new to me. I think I am going to try this.

So the question is if you back up a game can you install it and play it without needing an internet connection present? If so then valve could go under right now and I could still play my games.
steveo_mcg 30th January 2008, 21:51 Quote
nope you still need steam installed and online to activate your backups.
yodasarmpit 30th January 2008, 22:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Um, excuse me - point of order.

The question still remains unanswered as to what we're going to do when Steam evaporates like, well, steam, as at some point it inevitably will.

I'll forestall the inevitable claim that Valve will never go out of business - people would have said the same about Cavedog at the height of Total Annihilation's powers. The reich will not last for a thousand years. And when it falls, as it obviously will at some point, whether that's in two, five, or ten years, every single thing anyone has bought - at least tens of millions' worth - will vanish with the next Windows reinstall.

This is not a hypothetical concern for me. I own a fully legitimate copy of the audio edit software Sound Forge - not a cheap item. The version I own was the last released by Sonic Foundry before they were bought out by Sony. Now, whenever I want to install it, I have to argue my way through thick layers of bureaucratic incompetence at Sony HQ before someone can be arsed to dig out the official keygen. Quite frequently I'm told "we don't support that anymore", as if I'm supposed to roll over and buy a new version because it's convenient for them.

Valve have very vaguely mumbled something about having a plan for this situation, but I remain unconvinced. Until it's in the EULA it's vapourware. In the hypothetical circumstance of Valve being wound up, it's impossible to imagine any liquidator agreeing to spend company money creating a no-Steam patch for the huge amount of software they will by that point have distributed on the system.

Until recently, it was understood that software licences were in perpetuity. It's no secret that outfits like Microsoft would adore the idea of renting windows to us, monthly. But if this sort of paradigm is going to be implemented, it should not be by the back door, which is what Steam is clearly trying to do. There are very serious problems and very trying unanswered questions with Steam, and until they are addressed I will have nothing to do with it.
Such a shame you feel that way, or you would have been able to enjoy using steam for the past 4 and a half years like some of us have.

Yeah, steam will disappear at some point in time like almost everything does, by that time I don't think I'll be too worried about some ten year old games I've already deleted from my play list.
completemadness 30th January 2008, 22:15 Quote
Very Cool

ATM though, im a bit dissapointed with steam, the prices are rediculous

Cod4 - $69.95 - £35
Play.com Price - £29.99

Bioshock - $54.95 - £27
Play.com Price - £24.99

Dont forget Steam also add's 17.5% onto the $ price
IE. Bioshock is apparently $64.57 inc vat which = £32.49
This means Steam is charging 30% more over a Retail game (Which comes with manual and disc)

What gives?

Edit:
Also, because steam charges in $ you may get screwed by your bank, in currency changes/conversion rate
yodasarmpit 30th January 2008, 22:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
Very Cool

ATM though, im a bit dissapointed with steam, the prices are rediculous

Cod4 - $69.95 - £35
Play.com Price - £29.99

Bioshock - $54.95 - £27
Play.com Price - £24.99

Dont forget Steam also add's 17.5% onto the $ price
IE. Bioshock is apparently $64.57 inc vat which = £32.49
This means Steam is charging 30% more over a Retail game (Which comes with manual and disc)

What gives?

Edit:
Also, because steam charges in $ you may get screwed by your bank, in currency changes/conversion rate
Yeah I bought CoD4 retail, if it had been cheaper I would have bought it via steam.
However, I believe it is the publisher who sets the price not Valve.
Phil Rhodes 30th January 2008, 22:27 Quote
> I don't think I'll be too worried about some ten year old games I've already deleted from my play list.

That's your problem. I still occasionally break out an Amiga for a game of Banshee.
Hamish 30th January 2008, 22:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
nope you still need steam installed and online to activate your backups.
like i said, copy and paste your steam directory and you dont need to unlock/reactivate or download anything
i've done this numerous times when doing reinstalls, just copy the steam folder somewhere else, reinstall and copy back, works flawlessly
yodasarmpit 30th January 2008, 23:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
> I don't think I'll be too worried about some ten year old games I've already deleted from my play list.

That's your problem. I still occasionally break out an Amiga for a game of Banshee.

Banshee :D
DXR_13KE 31st January 2008, 00:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeDude
Cool idea, but getting a game for free just for being a seeder is a bit extreme. Maybe 15-20% max. Of coarse those with better internet connections would be at a big advantage.

i am talking discounts of course, but i am considering up to 35% as acceptable ....... but there could be prizes for the top X uploaders or something like that.....
Phil Rhodes 31st January 2008, 01:55 Quote
> like i said, copy and paste your steam directory and you dont need to unlock/reactivate or download anything

If you've changed hardware? Complete new machine?

> Banshee :D

Quite!

P
WildTangent 31st January 2008, 06:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Um, excuse me - point of order.

The question still remains unanswered as to what we're going to do when Steam evaporates like, well, steam, as at some point it inevitably will.

I'll forestall the inevitable claim that Valve will never go out of business - people would have said the same about Cavedog at the height of Total Annihilation's powers. The reich will not last for a thousand years. And when it falls, as it obviously will at some point, whether that's in two, five, or ten years, every single thing anyone has bought - at least tens of millions' worth - will vanish with the next Windows reinstall.

This is not a hypothetical concern for me. I own a fully legitimate copy of the audio edit software Sound Forge - not a cheap item. The version I own was the last released by Sonic Foundry before they were bought out by Sony. Now, whenever I want to install it, I have to argue my way through thick layers of bureaucratic incompetence at Sony HQ before someone can be arsed to dig out the official keygen. Quite frequently I'm told "we don't support that anymore", as if I'm supposed to roll over and buy a new version because it's convenient for them.

Valve have very vaguely mumbled something about having a plan for this situation, but I remain unconvinced. Until it's in the EULA it's vapourware. In the hypothetical circumstance of Valve being wound up, it's impossible to imagine any liquidator agreeing to spend company money creating a no-Steam patch for the huge amount of software they will by that point have distributed on the system.

Until recently, it was understood that software licences were in perpetuity. It's no secret that outfits like Microsoft would adore the idea of renting windows to us, monthly. But if this sort of paradigm is going to be implemented, it should not be by the back door, which is what Steam is clearly trying to do. There are very serious problems and very trying unanswered questions with Steam, and until they are addressed I will have nothing to do with it.

This is something I'd honestly never thought about before but I don't think it's going to affect my support for the Steam platform. Like another posted said, chances of me still being interested in the games I've got 5 years down the road are pretty slim and honestly, I can live without games. Steam is a great system. It had some shaky beginnings, but unlike most monolithic applications like MSN Messenger, it's gotten better with age. The new features are, for the most part, useful. If Valve goes under, SOMEONE will buy Steam off of them when they're liquidating their assets. Steam is too good to die.
Spaceraver 31st January 2008, 07:25 Quote
I love Steam for what it does now. But yes, the torrent way of getting your official game would be so much faster. Alltho I can see the risks involved. I.E. You DL a copy and validate it, change some files and seed it again. Could be overcome with further re-validation. Or something along that line..

And yes a simple copy/paste works wonders when it comes to steam. I even managed to share my installed games with a friend in the sense that he'd only needed to validate the files via Steam after buying them online instead of having to download those same 30 Gb that I had anyways.
DXR_13KE 31st January 2008, 10:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceraver
I love Steam for what it does now. But yes, the torrent way of getting your official game would be so much faster. Alltho I can see the risks involved. I.E. You DL a copy and validate it, change some files and seed it again. Could be overcome with further re-validation. Or something along that line..

if you go to a popular torrent site you will notice that portal and TF2 are there.... and yes they work.
valve converting their software infrastructure to p2p would reduce their costs immensely, and today we have the technology to limit the use of users to a p2p networks and calculate the amount of data they upload and download..... couple that with the current steam system and you have a pure ownage network were money flows like a river and people are happy.

edit: at least that is what i think.....
steveo_mcg 31st January 2008, 10:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DXR_13KE
if you go to a popular torrent site you will notice that portal and TF2 are there.... and yes they work.
valve converting their software infrastructure to p2p would reduce their costs immensely, and today we have the technology to limit the use of users to a p2p networks and calculate the amount of data they upload and download..... couple that with the current steam system and you have a pure ownage network were money flows like a river and people are happy.

edit: at least that is what i think.....

Problem with Valve converting to p2p is that many people (inc me) would object to paying for bandwidth costs to allow a company to cut costs. I always use torrents (and seed for a while) for Linux ISOs etc but i don't see why i should use my capped bandwidth to help a company who is making a fair profit some more money.
DXR_13KE 31st January 2008, 11:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Problem with Valve converting to p2p is that many people (inc me) would object to paying for bandwidth costs to allow a company to cut costs. I always use torrents (and seed for a while) for Linux ISOs etc but i don't see why i should use my capped bandwidth to help a company who is making a fair profit some more money.

speed would be greater, games would be cheaper and not everyone has crap internet like you guys in the UK.... and of course i said something about discounts on future purchases if you upload......
btw, blizzard has the update system for WOW as a p2p system iirc..... i don't see WOW junkies screaming foul.....
steveo_mcg 31st January 2008, 12:11 Quote
True many countries have better infrastructure than us, but also some have worse, one of the largest markets i does (the US). You make the assumptions games would be cheaper, i seriously doubt they would reduce there prices it would only lead to greater profit for them or at least lower overheads. So has blizzard reduced its prices?
DXR_13KE 31st January 2008, 12:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
So has blizzard reduced its prices?

i think the p2p system is from the beginning......
r4tch3t 1st February 2008, 08:56 Quote
I think this is great for the small developers. I like the idea of steam, although I don't have a credit card so can't purchase yet.
Also some indie games are sold only through their own sites, so get very little notice. Steam on the other hand is very popular and the games would get more coverage, and its a trusted platform so you can trust them with your credit card details.
Orlix 1st February 2008, 14:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness


Cod4 - $69.95 - £35
Play.com Price - £29.99

Bioshock - $54.95 - £27
Play.com Price - £24.99

Hmmm... my CoD4 cost $44.95... waaaaaay cheaper than the €50-60 that I have seen in stores. For me it was a big saving.
yodasarmpit 1st February 2008, 15:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlix
Hmmm... my CoD4 cost $44.95... waaaaaay cheaper than the €50-60 that I have seen in stores. For me it was a big saving.
The UK price was $69.95 +VAT
Orlix 5th February 2008, 22:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yodasarmpit
The UK price was $69.95 +VAT

hmm..... I got it after Christmas... must have been on sale... actually thinking about it, I think it was all games with 30% discount. I guess I got lucky :)
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