Steam – The Leading Digital Gaming Marketplace
What exactly is Steam?
Steam is a digital marketplace with over 7,000 published games. Though Steam’s core is a digital marketplace for gamers, over time it has been developed into much more. With over 33 million daily users, It leads the gaming industry. Steams also makes it easy for gamers to communicate, hold discussions and play with their friends.
Unlike platforms such as Uplay and Origin, Steam not only publishes Valve (Parent Organization) games but also let’s other publishers use steam as a distribution platform for their games. Steam also allows users to review games they play, Since it’s not owned by any of the game publishing companies, These reviews are very reliable.
Game updates are a major part of steam. Steam not only makes it easy for publishers to release updates but also automates update process for users. This inturn minimizes the downtime games usually would experience during an update.
Development Of Steam
Steam was released by Valve Corp. The ear of online multiplayer games started a few years ago and Valve was one of the leading publishers. During the time, The main issue this kind of games faced was the implementation of updates. Today we know that online multiplayer games rely heavily on constant updates to games and anti-cheat systems but it was a big problem at the time.
Before releasing Steam, Valve had already launched their first set of online multiplayer games including Counter-Strike. It’s well known that online multiplayer games rely heavily on constant updates to maintain quality and user experience. At the time, There wasn’t really a solution to this. Games were mostly sold as hard copies. This prevented developers from releasing constant updates.
To overcome the issues Valve came up with the idea of steam. They contacted many giants at the time including Microsoft and Yahoo but none of them had a positive response. After this valve took the mater in their hands, They started developing steam and released a Beta Version in 2003. Soon enough after the release, valve made it mandatory for players to install steam. With the success of Steam, Valve could now provide frequent updates and better anti-cheat protection to it’s players.
Games released as digital products on steam save over 30% of total expenditure (Compared to hard copies), This attracted the attention of many big publishers. With such cost efficiency, there is no doubt developers would prefer it as the most optimal solution for releasing their games. As of March 2018, Over 20 games are released on steam every day.
Here is a graphical representation number of games released on steam over time.
Valve is also one of the best game publishers. Valve sold over 9.3 million copies of their first game, Half-Life.
According to SteamSPY, over 25 million copies of CS GO have been sold making it the best selling game on the Steam.
What makes Steam Special?
- Being an online platform, Steam features cloud storage for user profiles. This is very similar to profiling system on PSN and Xbox Live.
- Achievement lists allow players to track their progress and compare it with their friends.
- The communication system is a vital part of any online platform. Steam’s Instant messaging allows you to text, ping or even voice call your friends. All these features can easily be accessed even when you are in a game using the “Steam Overlay”.
- Steam overlay is a very powerful concept which allows users to execute a wide variety of tasks with the click of a button without requiring to minimize or close the game they are playing.
- Community-based network groups are what makes steam the most favored platform. All users on the platform can community and hold discussions regarding any topics.
All these accumulates turning Steam into not only the biggest game publisher platform but also the biggest social network for gamers.
Steam Greenlight – Why did it shut down?
Greenlight (not a part of steam anyone) allows developers to submit their games. The submitted games then go through a community voting process, Steam helps winning developers by publishing their game on the steam store.
The problem raised when many developers started manipulating the system. This happened for over 5 years before Steam finally decided upon shutting it down. We could expect to see a better version of Greenlight which would possibly be hard to manipulate.
Steam in 5 Years
Valve has partnered with HTC and is working on better VR gaming experience. Steam already being such a massive game library already has a lot of games that are fully compatible with other VR headsets like Oculus Rift. Steam also released an open source API for developers to integrate Steam VR compatibility in their games. Since then, Many VR games have been released, Check our list of best VR games.
Steam VR is not the piece of hardware launched by Steam, They launched “Steam Controller” in 2015, It quickly became one of the best controllers for playing games on PC. In 2016 valve disclosed that over 27,000 steam controllers were in use every day.
Here is an infographics to demonstrate timeline of valve and steam.