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