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Five reasons why Steam will destroy the PC games industry

By on May 26, 2010
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In the feedback for How to Publish a Game, one element stood out.

I had suggested that it made sense for a developer making PC games to work hard to get on all the distribution platforms. Not just Steam, but GamersGate, Metaboli, Direct2Drive and so on.

Bollocks came the resounding response.

No-one wanted to be quoted. But Steam seems to account for by far the majority of the revenue of every single company who came back to me. People were suggesting that Steam outsold, by a factor of 10 or more, all of the other sites combined.

Steam logo

All kudos for Valve for building this service organically to be so dominant, but this is terrible news for the PC games industry.

We’ve sleepwalked into letting Valve be the dominant platform holder for core PC games. And they did it without having to provide the marketing muscle, financial support and hardware innovation that Microsoft and Sony needed to give us to get their consoles of their ground.

In short, Valve is becoming a dangerous monopoly.

Why does that matter?

Reason 1: Monopolies stifle distribution innovation

In a free market, innovation and improvements are encouraged by competition. The problem occurs when one company is so far-and-away ahead that no-one else can catch up. Think of Google. Think of Facebook. And now we should be thinking of Steam in the same way.

Reason 2: Monopolies stifle creative innovation

I keep hearing that is getting harder and harder to get onto Steam, and if you don’t, then your game won’t sell. The PC has always been an open platform on which it is easy to distribute games. If Steam becomes a de facto monopoly, Valve decides which games we see. A bit too competitive to Half-Life? No distribution. We don’t like Match-3 games? No distribution. We’re not sure that anyone will want a game based on farming? No distribution.

Reason 3: The little guys don’t get a look in

Helping the little guys is hard. When you’re big, and profitable, and important, it’s easy to prioritise the big publishers over the little guys. The little guys are already struggling on the console (although PSN provides one route to market), but the PC has been their lifeblood. A megalithic monopoly could rationally decide that it is no longer cost-effective to support the little guys.

Reason 4: Steam has all the pricing power

Retailers won’t work with indies: it’s not worth their while and, more importantly, indies don’t give them marketing support.

What if that becomes true of Steam? Valve is in a position to say “your game won’t sell without us. We want a bigger cut, or upfront marketing commitment, or some form of guarantee.”

Reason 5: Valve doesn’t need to promote the platform

For all their weaknesses, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo spend a lot of money promoting and improving their platforms. Steam doesn’t improve the PC as a gaming device. I am a lot more comfortable about oligopolies when there is something in it for the consumer (like subsidised home consoles, for example).

Aren’t Valve the good guys?

To be clear, I’m not saying that Valve is doing any of these things right now. They are a great developer that has created, from scratch, a dominant digital distribution platform, mainly through making it so damned good that consumers don’t want to use anything else.

I am pointing out the risks of letting one company completely dominate a market.

Are there any silver linings?

Sure. As PC games disappear almost entirely from High Street stores, Steam is an incredibly valuable distribution platform. It may, in fact, be the only thing stopping the PC games market from abrupt extinction.

Elsewhere, social and online games (i.e. service games, not product games) are not dependent on Steam in the slightest. In fact, they pose a great threat to Steam, as gamers start playing free-to-play MMOs monetized with virtual goods, rather than spending £29.99 on a game in a virtual box from Steam.

So we’re in this weird place. Steam’s dominance is, in my view, bad for the industry. Yet the emergence of new service-based business models is a terminal threat to Steam.

How Valve chooses to react to that threat will show whether they are PC gaming’s saviour or its monopolistic exploiter.

Which do you think?

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • nick

    i agree valve had ruined 2 of my favorite free to play games added p2w content and to add it all up now the community is aboslutely horrid they destroy everything complain about everything and ask really dumb questions. plus all the girefers and trolls

  • guest

    While I do not agree with most of the reasons given here, the reason I have recently stopped buying steam games is because I can’t play them when and where I want to. Instead, I can only play them when and where they let me. I first saw steam as a distribution platform only, silly me. From what I can tell, and what has been published on their most recent terms of service, this is not the case. I recommend everyone to read this immediately, the word “subscription” is used very loosely. It seems valve wants to become more like the console platforms, but worse. At least I can trade, sell, or simply give away any title I buy with a console, unlike steam.

  • V Wilson

    Oversight! oversight! oversight! Who watches what Steam and Valve are doing? They are getting away with murder and absolutely the worst customer service I have ever encountered online. I’d rather have somebody in Mumbai with bad English help me through a problem rather than be completely ignored after posting numerous requests for help on Steam. Game companies need to know that their customers are getting screwed all in the name of protecting piracy. The only reason Steam exists is because it helps game companies limit piracy. I’m all for that up until I cannot access my games on Steam to play them or even buy any new ones because one day Steam decided to not recognize my pc and my passwords for whatever technical FUBAR reason. In fact, Steam or Valve should rename their company FUBAR. I would personally like to strangle the CEO of Valve with my bare hands and I am not a violent man. This is how upset they have made me. Poor customer service is one thing but no customer service is just not acceptable.

  • V Wilson

    Steam is corrupt and unprofessional and needs to be shut down or have some kind of protective demands placed upon it by government overseers. I for one have bought many games on Steam and then for whatever reason one day Steam would not recognize me and my computer as the owner of those games. Not a problem if there was true customer support available to all customers but there isn’t. What they call customer support is a bot driven engine that goes in circles and offers no help or solution to your problem. No phone number to speak with anyone human of any kind. It actually makes me feel violated like someone who has had his home burgled. The fact they get away with this crap and have nobody to answer to really bothers the heck out of me. Meanwhile I can’t play my games and NEWSFLASH STEAM, your antics prevent me from buying further games until you actually acknowledge customers and fix their problems with your Orwellian way of doing business.

  • Sarmel

    steam is no longer a platform for indies

  • TheTrueTruth

    Yet another dumb fuck.

  • RedEyedGrassMan .

    Your forgetting though that because all steam games need to check with steam servers what happens if those servers go down. Every body who spent TONS of money on steam loses all their games and all that money.

  • Max Flax

    Steam uses the Community to do all of their tech support. I have bought Bioshock 2 on Steam and it will not run. I have spent a lot of time looking through the Steam Community message boards. I followed all of their advice, but the game will still not run.
    Steam’s “Support Center” was no help either. I selected the limited menu options, Problem-Game-Crashes and there was no information for me.
    I cannot find a email address or a phone number for any Steam help.
    This is a brilliant way to save money by having the Community do all of the tech support instead of spending money hiring and training a support team.
    Steam has distributed a lot of older games that I like. but they do absolutely nothing to ensure that they work. It is up to the customer to get the game working. It is up to the customer to find a sound fix for Max Pain or to edit a file to get Fallout 3 working.

  • SortingHat

    This is actually the early version of steam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BilYkY3W5vU It’s called Club Kidsoft which you could get software either thru direct download or CD room mail order back in the mid to late 90s.

    We got Creative Writer the title on the upper left that way though they went out of business because at that time peo[ple had their games stolen due to hackers who caught on to the growing trend of the PC market back then.

    Back then most people did not have anti virus software as it was not needed and Internet Explorer was NOT Free which allowed a healthy competition in the PC Industry of different browsers with different looks/features you could get at any electronic store.

    Heck even many of these games you see here you could get at Sears in their computer section which they don’t have a computer section anymore.

  • SortingHat

    The only good reason to still get a game at the store is then you have a hard copy in case the digital download is *lost* or is stolen which some of our stuff has and we had to reinstall things.

    At least having the hard copy we have the verification code for it too.

    One company like Steam was called Club Kidsoft we used to subscribe to their magazine for education and kids software back in the 90s.

    It also had a virtual *club house* of various activities on the computer.

    Here is a youtube vid of it which I call Kid Soft the grand father of Steam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BilYkY3W5vU

    About half the games actually had playable demos so it was fun when getting new disks of what demos it would contain.

    I got two games from it and one of them it was stolen when our computer was hacked back in 1997 which back then almost nobody had virus protection software since it wasn’t needed.

    The company wouldn’t even talk to Dad when asking for help and a year later it was out of business as they refused to adapt to the internet and compensate for loss.

    I am sure other people experienced the same issues when downloading games and getting their PC’s hacked before anti virus software companies showed up. and when they did it was too late for Kidsoft INC

  • SortingHat

    Don’t worry that’s coming. They are just ironing out the details right now but the ideas of controlling you’re car are there.

    Right now too many people own old clunkers so they know it own’t fly very well. Case in point is the Cash for Clunkers program which failed for obvious reasons.

    They likely were hoping people would either give or junk their old cars for the new electronic ones so they could do just what you described.

    Charge for ONSTAR service or no drive since driving is a privilige not a right in their minds even though you are not being paid to drive.

    Only chauffeurs should be forced to get licenses where they are paid to drive people places so they are competent to do the job.

    If we do need Driver Licenses it should actually only be for felons.

  • SortingHat

    Steam should make it easy for you to turn it off from being the first thing on you’re computer when it starts up.

    Dad who is good at computers after a good search and playing with the settings finally found it but it is not in an obvious location.

    Right away when installing Steam should be an icon to update manually when YOU want it to.

  • SortingHat

    He had to or risk losing his job. He was likely paid a bonus paycheque for it.

  • SortingHat

    My favorite MS title was a long forgotten one called Creative Writer and Fine Artists which actually taught things. It was set in a place called IMaginationpolis which is a virtual 4 story building you go in an elevator to go between floors where different activities are.

    It is designed for kids which if you click on the wrong thing a *fart* noise is made but at the same time actually taught you professional techniques on drawing and what an artist would see or make a comic strip.

    When you made a painting you could put SOUNDS on certain spots so if you click there noises would play.

    Creative Writer teaches you advance writing techniques and what you do in Fine Artist would be in a portfolio that could be transfered to Creative Writer or vica versa.

    The two programs were interchangable.

    Creative Writer could’ve had a kid friendly email service where instead of just generic smilies like :) or :( their would be actual sound effects if you clicked on the right spots.

    Like “I feel like *honk* today and just got out of the hospital after a nasty bike accident or “My friend is in the hospital now after a bike fall and I feel like *Ahooga* about the whole thing.

  • SortingHat

    Before BIll Gates left MS they used to actually have their own software lineup.

    One branch was called Microsoft Kids where I used to rent the Magic School Bus computer games from the Library which our Library rented CD roms in the late 90s. BY that time most of the games were made for Windows 95 or 3.1

    Microsoft also had a MS Catalog which had all sorts of cool content from serious use software known as *Home and Office* to the generic sports games to the arcade style games to simulation games like Combat Flight and Microsoft Flight SImulator series.

    Anybody remember the old MS geeky looking joystick they used to sell for the more advanced games?

    Anybody remember playing Mid Town Madness racing down the streets of Chicago and you could set you’re own check point races?

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    get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours wouhld cost a pretty penny?
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    Thank you

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    It’s funny. The games press I read is full of indie game devs complaining how hard it is for small devs to get a look in (point 3), that sales are devaluing games (point 4) and that if you aren’t on Steam, you can’t make a decent living from the alternatives (point 1). It seems to me that many of my predictions are coming true.

  • Braustardo

    this article was shit at its time and is shit now, 5 years later steam is the best thing the pc gaming industry could have, see you in hell

  • Miner1999er

    HYPOTHETICALLY
    (as in I HAVE TOTALLY NOT DONE THIS MYSELF)
    You’re given all the program files. They’re only locked so much as to prevent pirates from adding the game to their Steam library. If you wanted to play the game 100% without Steam’s influence at all you could just remove it after your game’s installed. That’s why all Steam games are totally mod-able and pirate-able. You really don’t need Steam to run any of your games, unless you play Valve’s games, in which case that’s like saying you like Assassin’s Creed but hate Ubisoft and it’s UPlay UI. Cmon, you don’t make any sense.

  • Miner1999er

    “The little guys don’t get a look in,”
    You heard of Steam Greenlight?

  • Truth

    Yet another steam employee.

  • Truth

    I bet you work for them.

  • Truth

    Steam = Pyramid scam-enjoy getting your computer and vital information scanned on a routine basis:)

  • Lloyd Franklin

    For me Google has always been the anti-Christ of the technology world. I only use YouTube and then I didn’t use my real information.

  • Lloyd Franklin

    I hate Steam myself but I use it because games require it. I get really angry when I see people write GabeN is god, GabeN saved PC gaming, bow down to our lord and saviour GabeN, I hate these people so much.

  • Roberto Markham

    Steam is an arrogant organisation and a stupid, waste of time. Want to run a game, sign in. Want to join a forum, sign in…….oh but must use a different username and password. Want support, sign in………oh must use yet another username and password. Nothing works on the site………forgotten password? Hard luck. Try to open another account NFW! I have had it up to the eyeballs with Steam. My games no longer work I am unable to contact anyone to complain and so I now have heaps of useless expensive junk with no sale price. I always enjoyed purchasing a game, getting a CD, installing it and then……..believe it or not, playing it with very little trouble. With the advent of Steam this has become an expensive NIGHTMARE. I will no longer buy ANY game which needs Steam [or any other on-line scam]. So, OK, I miss out on a few of the better games. At least I am not suffering headaches and frustration.
    Steam has wrecked the gaming industry completely, just as Microsoft has wrecked the OS industry. Monopolies are like dictatorships and with the same outlook.

  • JohnGahris TheImmortal Squirre

    Don’t try trolling me.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    I fear for your soul, infected with the cynic’s canker.

  • JohnGahris TheImmortal Squirre

    and which of valve’s competitors sponsored this article, I wonder?

  • I hate steam

    You all forgot about the players, or should we say adult gamers, we prefer good old buying a game and installing it and playing it without the hustle of downloading anything, many of us wait for the game to cost less to purchase and have it ready to play and worst of all, what about gamers in developing countries in wich internet connection still costs $50 usd (that´s right people!) to have good internet connection, i guess we don´t matter for we are poor. Everything is downloading now, hate it. F*** Steam!

  • Pingback: Anonymous()

  • 66 Biker

    In a lot of ways Steam reminds me of Microsoft. Mainly because of how they do business with smaller companies in that mafioso monopoly sort of way.

  • TheSameoldsonganddance

    I am beginning to wonder if like the forum GLP I wonder if Steam is another CIA forefront acting as a *game service* but spying on people’s habits getting ready for the next big false flag that will cripple nations that use paper currency.

  • TheSameoldsonganddance

    There are a lot of dark hidden and not so hidden forces waiting to snatch innocent people who get into positions of power that re hoping to *change* things for the better which is why a lot of game companies lie about their products or future products.

  • TheSameoldsonganddance

    ‘You must work for them. Yes in a perfect world, your always at home and always can connnect.”

    You’re getting closer! Ever heard of disinformation agents? You cannot get any point thru to them because they are paid to counter argue anything you will EVER say.

  • TheSameoldsonganddance

    Sorry but part of creation is that humans have the right to be stupid and sleep walk into traps.

    It will always take 2 generations for mistakes to be learned just like the song Same Old Song and Dance.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt2

    Hey thats my name too!!!!

  • TheBigOne

    They will probably try Google Glasses first if the false flag events get foiled and don’t work out the way the experts want.

  • TheBigOne

    Imagine having Steam froced in you’re head in order to play the game. They will probably try Google Glasses first.

  • TheBigOne

    Experts are working on the route of putting the computer in YOU’RE HEAD someday using Nanobots in which that will be the ONLY way you can make electronic transactions and they are a lot closer then most people can imagine.

    All that is needed is the right series of false flags to bring the rich nations to their knees *printing money that can’t be backed up* for ONE example and people will BEG their leaders for it for their own protection.

    Reading the quotes of them is quite scary where they spy on us from cradle to grave. They can make profiles out of the types of games you play and use it later against you if you dare join political movements that is *deemed* terrorism which is broadly worded.

    I won’t get into anymore on here as I suck at English and don’t want people to feel fucked up reading this anymore.

  • TheSameoldsonganddance

    Well said! Most people on here are either blind or shills to the big robber barons that plague the gaming industry.

    When gaming industry started out it was by people who grew up in the 70s/80s era that learned to program in mainframe computers in IT environments or were *geeks* learning from their garages.

    Now they are grown up and have families working at their boring desk job so now the bankers have taken over the game industry and likely don’t even PLAY the games they sell nor give a rats ass.

    It’s all about money and power to them. These are descendants of the same robber barons that swallowed up the railroad companies in the 1830s-50s.

  • TheBigOne

    How come there are no PC games in stores anymore? Me and Dad notice this and I am very distressed because now that I have more money to spend I wanted to buy up a lot of old adventure games that are now sadly no longer available.

    As for that matter why aren’t 3D adventure games being made anymore that aren’t hidden objects?

    The late 90s/early 2000s there was a surge in 3D adventures weather it was point and click or it was a real time 3D game where you actually control the character and open doors/find secret passages.etc.

    I was expecting those games to get larger as more computing power becomes available. In fact my favorite companies were Dream Catcher and BroderBund. I never got into Sierra Adventure games sadly but wish I had.

    Anyways why is that? Now even Fry’s Electronics has a very tiny section left which used to have 3 larger rows which the shelves are now mostly empty and sad looking.

  • haruspex

    I run Linux. Nothing offers to install toolbars on my OS. You must run Windows, from the sound of it. And as such, when you say: “I say what I want installed on my computer” it comes off as hilarious. Windows installs all sorts of crap you don’t want. Steam is the least of your worries.

  • tx3000

    You cock suckers and the YOU CAN PLAY OFF LINE SHIT MEANS NOTHING QUIT TALKING ABOUT IT QUIT BRINGING IT UP OK it’s fucking annoying to read bullshit justification comments by you fucktards.

    WE DO NOT WANT STEAM ON OUR COMPUTERS FOR ANY REASON IT DOES NOT MATTER IF IT CAN BE PLAYED OFF LINE WE DO NOT WANT THIS SHITTY SOFTWARE ON OUT COMPUTERS INVOLVED WITH GAMES THAT ARE NOT MADE BY VALVE FOR ABSOLUTELY NO VALID REASON…..END OF DISCUSSION

  • tx3000

    Steam has driven me and tons of people to piracy because none of us want that piece of software on our computer..Simple as that..Doesn’t matter why we don’t want it on our computers and that’s none of anyone’s business why we don’t.

    Steam lovers need to be forced to have 4 toolbars installed on their computers in order to play their Steam games, and then it might get teh point across.

  • tx3000

    Valve isn’t a game company it’s nothing. I runs a distribution service that is the bane of PC gaming and monopolizing the market with it’s forced software in things that require it until Valve makes it require it.

    Steam is the reason why myself and tons of gamers PIRATE games. We simply don’t want software on out computers we don’t want anything to do with We decide what we install on out computers and why we don’t want Steam on our computer is out business and all these stupid ass justification comments people say like well you can use Steam in offline mode means jack shit.

    Games that are not made by Valve and games that are bought on the Steam store ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT SHOULD EVER NEED STEAM. If I buy a hard copy of a game or digitally download a game off direct2drive then Steam has no business being involved and doesn’t need a Steam registration.

  • tx3000

    Steam is what has driven me to piracy simply because I don’t want Steams Service on my computer..Why, because I decide what software I want installed on my computer and my reasons are not anyone’s business.

    Steam doesn’t need to be involved with games Valve did not make or that have not been downloaded from the Steam Store. if I buy a hard copy of a game that Valve did not make, or i digitally download a game from let say Direct2drive, THEN I BETTER NOT SEE STEAM INVOLVED IN IT IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM because there is no reason for it to be involved.

    If gamers have to have Steam installed on their computer that don’t want it. then Steam lovers have to have 4 toolbars installed on their computers.

  • tx3000

    Steam has actually driven me to piracy if I don’t want a piece of software on my computer that has no valid reason for being needed to install, launch, and play games Valve didn’t make, then that’s my business and the reasons why I don’t aren’t anyone’s business because I decide what i want installed, not an abusive business.

    Also people seem to think Steam isn’t monopolizing the market but let me point out that’s totally untrue Valve actually is, no matter where you buy a game or how you buy Digital download or hard copy, IT STILL REQUIRES STEAM
    REGISTRATION. So there are no competitors because everything is all
    tied to Steam.

  • tx3000

    How do people seriously think Steam is not a monopoly.

    are people saying this so dense that they cannot see how no matter where you buy a game or how you buy it IT STILL REQUIRES STEAM
    REGISTRATION. So there are no competitors because everything is all
    tied to Steam.

  • tx3000

    But Steam is a monopoly, no matter where you buy a game or how you buy it IT STILL REQUIRES STEAM REGISTRATION. So there are no competitors because everything is all tied to Steam.

  • tx3000

    what kind of bullshit is that HE DOES NOT WANT STEAM AND STEAM HAS NO BUSINESS BEING IN ANY GAME THAT VALVE DID NOT MAKE..Simple as that

  • tx3000

    Those aren’t competitors because the game STILL REQUIRES STEAM REGISTRATION dumb ass so different distributors aren’t relevant it’s still all tied to Steam.

  • tx3000

    Having a piece of software to be installed on my computer that has no valid reason for needing to be installed in order to install launch and play a game that Valve didn’t make has driven me to piracy.

    If I don’t want a piece of software on my computer then I dont’ want it…Why I don’t want it isn’t relevant nor is it anyone’s business why either..Also these stupid fucking reasons people are using to actually justify Steam is basically telling me I have to accept a piece of software I do not want.

    Steam lovers need to be forced to have 4 toolbars installed on their computers in order to play their games so that way they finally understand why people don’t like Steam.

    Those people saying people need to accept Steam would be the first ones complaining about being forced to require the toolbars..Well that’s the same concept…Forcing someone to require a toolbar to play a game is the exact same thing as forcing people to use Steam to play games Valve Don’t own.

    but regardless, as I said above it’s my computer and I decide what software I want on it and it’s not anyone’s business on why. So if we have Steam forced on us, then Steam loves need Toolbars forced on them

  • tx3000

    Why are you telling him he has to accept a piece of software on his computer he doesn’t want on it…

    Since that’s your attitude you should be forced to have 4 toolbars to be installed on your computer in order to play your games and maybe that will get the message through your head.

    Who the fuck are you to tell people what to have on their computer. If somoene doesn’t want a program installed on their computer then it’s none of anyone’s business to why they don’t. And there is no reason anyone can come up with that matters. We’re being forced to sue software WE do not want and has no valid reason for it to be needed to install launch and play…

  • tx3000

    And it’s also the cause for a shit load of piracy, Gamers are being forced to require a program to be installed on their computer that has no reason being installed. I refuse to buy any game a developer uses Steam for and crams down my throat..Me not wanting Steam is not anyone’s business, if I don’t want it then I shouldn’t have to accept it.

    Requiring Steam for games that Valve didn’t make is exactly like forcing all the Steam lovers to have 4 toolbars installed on their computer in order to play games and then being told well you can just hide the toolbars. Why people dont’ want a program on their computer isn’t anyon’es fucking business so quit making excuses for Valve forcing people to require an unwanted piece of software that has no point

  • tx3000

    There is no valid reason Steam needs to be installed in order for him to be able to play Modern Warfare 2…NONE…There is no reason anyone can come up with that warrants Steam needing to be installed on your computer at all for games Valve does not make..The only games that need Steam, are the ones Valve makes…Other than that Keep Steam out of every fucking game because it doesn’t belong there.

    You don’t need/want 4 toolbars installed on your computer in order to pay a game, Well you with not wanting tool bars is exactly like us not wanting Steam

    I don’t want that program on my computer at all either..Why I don’t doesn’t matter..I say what I want installed on my computer

  • tx3000

    Steam is the whole reason I pirate games. People love trying to come up with all these reasons why Steam is good or whatever but guess what I DO NOT WANT THAT FUCKING PROGRAM ON MY COMPUTER FOR ANY REASON.

    People that come up with all these so called logical reasons for Steam
    need to be forced to have about 4 tool bars installed on their computer in order to play games from Steam, so that way it gets the message across to them.

  • tx3000

    Every fucking game no matter where you get it has a fucking Steam registration attached to it and winds up requiring Steam to be running to install launch and play…Explain to me what valid reason Skyrim needs Steam for anything… If I get a game from let say Direct2DRIVE I don’t expect to see anything Steam related to it..but guess what..Steam is crammed down my throat regardless.

    And it doesn’t matter if Steam can be run in offline mod or that it doesn’t take much power..WE DO NOT WANT THE PROGRAM ON OUR COMPUTER……Steam needs to start forcing people like you to require 4 toolbars to be installed on your computer in order to use games in order for you to get the point.

    So what the fuck are you smoking.

  • tx3000

    Steam doesn’t improve PC games at all in fact it is actually the cause of tons of piracy. Steam doesn’t need to be used for anything except to DOWNLOAD a game off the Steam store..Other than that, forcing a game to require a Steam key and forcing someone to have Steam running to install launch and play is what drives a lot of people to pirate games. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that a Steam registration key needs to be distributed with games you get from places like Direct2Drive or from a store bought copy of a game like Skyrim…Really!

  • tx3000

    Steam is monopolizing the market because you’re a prime example of someone who has no clue to how the under workings of Steam actually works.
    All the other places you mentioned to DD games: Direct2drive,gamestop,amazon,GOG, stardock and others, I personally have
    games through D2D, GoG and gamestop.
    ALL REQUIRE THE GAME TO BE REGISTERED ON STEAM ANYWAY so there is no way to get away from Steam.

  • Rye

    Well worth suppressing the troll instincts to read the deeper meaning. Articles like this keep the big boys in check. Keep speaking out, it is almost four years later and the market and community is still going in the right direction

  • charlyfox

    I have a retail box of Shogun 2 and cannot install from the discs. My initial installation took 8 hours on my 3.5 megabit connection. I had to uninstall and spent several hours trying to find out how to install from the discs but no method I have researched will do that. Even advice from Steam says you can and indeed it took just half an hour to complete the installation. But then comes the update window – just another 9 hours or so before I can launch the game. So they’re a bunch of liars. I can’t believe that the rest of the pc gaming industry have allowed this bunch of dictators and liars so much power. The jumping through hoops system that Steam have is ridiculous. You even have to set up a separate account just to get help from their system. There is an explanation for this – Make pc gaming as unpleasant as possible and drive users to the consoles. This is what is happening. I suspect a conspiracy is going on between Steam and Sony/Microsoft.

  • Steamfree

    Steam saves me over $2000 a year….ever since the 90’s, I used to walk into 1 of several computer stores nearly every weekend and walk out with at least 1 game….sometimes a stack. I used to rebuild/upgrade PC every year. But when steam came out i refused to jump on the bandwagon. I just prefer having the disc and not lownloading crap. Plus me and several buddies of mine would each buy a game and we would let eachother borrow them. Alot of the time we would buy it, especially if it was good and was multiplayer. Kind of like an extended demo. In ’08 I walked into another store, like i did before and NOT 1 single game worked without having steam. I have not bought a single PC game since. I have not bought a new PC or upgraded current one. Thanks to steam I can safely say i’m no longer a gamer…which is not something I like saying. If it wasn’t for all the money I noticed I was saving, I would say SCREW STEAM! but instead I have to say… Thank you steam!

  • Anonymous

    To be honest, I despise Steam. Steam keeps me from playing my favorite games because I don’t have a fast enough internet to constantly update it or even run it. I like it better when I can just put in a disc, install and play. I live in an area where high speed internet that is suitable for gaming is nonexistent. My internet is too slow to even access Steam. It’s impossible for me to play any game on Steam, and I don’t think that’s fair for people that prefer PC gaming, but live somewhere high speed internet doesn’t exist.

  • 67

    2 beez

  • Gaz Wkd

    Reading this article now and it’s quite funny :) If anything Steam has saved PC gaming from going the way of the dodo 😉

  • Nope

    I think honestly that this is probably one of the least educated discussions of Steam I’ve ever read.

  • AugustineThomas

    Do you really love Steam this much, or do you have a thousand dollars of games on there and you don’t want it to recede in popularity and you lose your games like people did on D2D?

  • AugustineThomas

    Not true. Every game on Steam never ever stopped being available through piracy (except when they first come out, which is the same for any game while people figure out how to crack it).

  • Jacques Shellac

    I haven’t bought a STEAM game since they started. Now that they’ve monopolized the market, I’ve been essentially forced out of the PC gaming hobby – but I still refuse to buy STEAM exclusive games. Shameless arrogance and obnoxious insults from STEAM promoters have only reaffirmed that decision.

    Now I’m beginning to hear about STEAM threatening to cancel game accounts of people who don’t agree to their terms – without any refunds or compensation of any kind. So apparently I was right all along.

  • K1dX

    Lol Linux is open Windows being closed to Gabe Pfffftttt windows is closed to every one where is windows source code and can we alter windows and redistibute no we cant and Linux out preformed windows.Windows is just shit how can you even compare windows to a steam box Hardware vs software its like saying PS4 vs windows who wins lmao stupid crap only morons think like that.

  • K1dX

    1 how can steam out sell other publishers steam is a client to sell games now Valve on the other hand could.Also I have a steam account and its great on windows/Linux also steam offers those so called free to play games so this who article is BS.When a company like valve release steam a gaming client so trusted for years and then has indie,AAA and F2P games on there proves this article to be crap also I talked to the guys that made Haunted Hells reach and there games don’t sell cause they don’t have money to fund the project how is this any ones fault you give awesome content to us free or cheap we will buy your game also game has to be good we don’t buy shit.

  • Matthew

    “Steam eats the souls of little gamers”

    This quote is the signature line of one of the moderators for the Civfanatics website. I 100%
    agree. Most of that reason can be found in
    “Rocks” post. My first steam game was Civilization V and after the nightmare of installing it BECAUSE of
    steam, and after seeing that all modding required steam… I decided I had wasted $50 for the game. From that time on I vowed never to get another steam game. Unfortunately I had no choice if I wanted Skyrim.

    You steam enthusiasts don’t see how we can hate steam because either you don’t know any better (don’t have experience with anything better) or you have already bought into the mindset of sacrificing freedom of choice for convenience . I am not going to go through all the reasons why this is true and why I DESPISE steam but I will list the ones related to your objection to the above post. The only “bias” I will admit here is that I am a modder. I am willing to bet that a majority of modders hate steam. At least one of those reasons have also been listed below. The rest of my hate is based on my experience with steam.

    1. I HAVE MY OWN WAY of organizing a game library that I have used for years. Many people have been using third party systems for years to organize their games. Nexus is only one example. Not me. I have my own. Steam’s installer will not allow me to take advantage of my own system because it requires that I put the game in its own directory which is incompatible with my own way of doing things. Regardless of whether you use your own or whether you use another system, Steam games FORCE steam. NO FREEDOM.

    2. EASE OF ACCESS != (not equal) FREEDOM. Steam and other institutions built on the same principle rely on people’s desire for ease to keep them ignorant. The less that you know, the more you will like and need to rely on their system. unlike other game organization systems which you can learn from. As a result, steam has no learning value. It prefers you remain ignorant of what goes on underneath. NO FREEDOM.

    3. You mention that steam is required for installation. That is one of the BIGGEST reasons I DESPISE Steam. You cannot install a game from the cd/dvd. There is no point to even buying the game in a store because you will have to download it anyway. I tried avoiding steam by buying it at the store… boy was I duped. So basically STEAMS WASTES HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN NATURAL RESOURCES (used in installation media) AND SHIPPING and prevents people abroad with extremely limited internet access (such as people in the army) from enjoying a game because they cannot install it. Too bad that there wasn’t a warning label… another waste of $40 not to mention the thousands it took to ship games all the way to the middle east. NO FREEDOM.

    4. Steam is all about lack of choices (except in the games you can get). That is why games that make use of steam ARE REQUIRED TO BUILD A CALL to the steam executable within their own game code. NO EXCEPTIONS. AND NO FREEDOM.

    5. Steam has NO USERS GUIDE. I get cryptic messages from steam about stuff and I have to search the internet in order to find out what the hell they are talking about. And half the time that doesn’t even work. So I don’t really want to be part of the steam community. But… I have no choice. NO FREEDOM.

    6. All in all my experience with steam has been 100% detestable. I don’t like steam. I don’t want it on my computer. But I have no choice. I have to have that useless (to me) piece of crap running in order to play or MODIFY Skyrim (Or Civ 5 if I ever find it worth playing). NO FREEDOM.

    7. Steam developers are LAZY. They do not care about the logistics of the games or the mods being loaded for their own clients. Steam’s mod loader WILL FAIL with certain types of mods unless the load order is modified by hand since it does not distinguish between types of mods (master mods versus regular mods). In most cases making this distinction is very simple. Yet steam developers cannot be bothered with it. Luckily, Nexus has developed a much more intelligent system that hacks and overrides steams own system. But unlike nexus mods (which can
    be downloaded whether you have the nexus mod manager or not) steam does not allow downloading its mods without the steam client. NO FREEDOM.

    So are you catching the pattern here? Convenience is nice when it does not sacrifice freedom and encourage laziness. But I am afraid that this pattern of lack of choices is only the beginning. Mr. Lovell has hit the nail right on the head. And Steam MAY OR MAY NOT take further freedoms away on purpose. But regardless, the slow removal of further freedoms is inevitable. Just as their developers have gotten lazy with their mod system, the more of the market they control, the less they will care about what you want as an end user and a gamer (Just like EA… played any good games by EA lately? 100% crap. Remember the SimCity catastrophe.). And you my friend will be stuck with the results of their laziness because of the lack of choice that is central to the Steam business model.

  • ine

    You don’t need to be connected to the internet to get access to your games on steam… In-fact the only time you need to be connected are for updates, or to install the game. What is wrong with an easily accessible library for all your games?

  • Derelict

    In 5-10 years we will see a fully integrated media platform in which
    telephony, television, and the web are sold in a single unit.

    The Xbox One. ‘Nuff said.

  • guest

    This article is a fucking joke. Steam is a private company and you think they created a monopoly and that they weren’t innovative? Valve put out the some of the most innovative games and steam is, by far more innovative than any console. Microsoft wants to block or charge users for playing a used game and they are a giant public company adherent to shareholders who have nothing to do with video games. What a stupid article. Steam is amazing.

  • commenter

    While some of the points are valid, steam has also helped the PC games industry by preventing piracy for online games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ry.zodie Ryan Richardson

    I see your point but to be perfectly honest steam has so far done more good than harm. Especially with the introduction of the Greenlight system

    I think the platform they have adopted gives consumers good value for money and great tools for social interactions, friends, communities and so on.

    Steam has now expanded this ethos to development tools and greenlight – which anyone in the community can be a part of. The community can vote for games it wants on steam and games they want to see on sale. – This allows both consumer and developer to benefit from the time / money placed into valve.

    Also valve seems to be supporting innovative concepts, ideas and ultimately “the little guys” by giving not only the physical tools (aka the software) but also a community as well. This will only get bigger too.

    Not only that but as others have said – there have been games I would never have heard about – in fact I actively use steam to search for new and interesting games to buy.

    Also for people whining about “needing to be online” steam does offer an offline mode and the time when you’d not be allowed to play without a connection is when the developer of a game doesn’t want you to be able to play without one. In short steam will let you play without a connection unless the game doesn’t support offline mode.

    I agree that monopolizing a market should be something to give pause, however from what I have seen so far I think valve has the right frame of mind and as a consumer and as an artist (but not a developer) I would happily hop onto the steam bandwagon because of its massive community and inclusive “everybody” wins ethos, which by the way is only possible because of the massive consumer base.

  • Biathc!

    Windows is closed to Valve… That’s why Gabe hates it. SteamBox is closed to everyone but Valve, that’s why Gabe loves it.

  • http://twitter.com/Ark_kun Ark-kun

    2 years later and Steam is creating their own tightly-closed console while Gabe Newell spreads FUD about Windows being closed (which is a lie since you can install any game).

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Not “allowed”. But the after-the-fact justification for the oligopoly that the major console manufacturers have is that they have to invest in the hardware and recoup those costs. Valve doesn’t have that justification.

    Note that I don’t say that Valve should not be allowed to exist. It was one of the most impressive companies in gaming. It is that gamers and developers should be wary about sleepwalking into a monopoly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.keil.18 Andrea Keil

    “Maybe I should rephrase that: ‘Steam doesn’t invest in improving the hardware of PCs or spending marketing money to convince new consumers of the value of the platform.’ ”

    …so what? SHOULD they spend marketing money in order to be “allowed to exist”?? Why do you demand for them to change anything about PC hardware? Seems totally random for me.

    Just because Sony and Nintendo and Mircosoft and Apple do this for their “each 5 years a new one”-consoles doesn’t mean that a completely different company has to do this as well. …for a platform that basically doesn’t change over the years, only gets more and more of everything.

    If users are convinced of Steam then just let them – even if Valve doesn’t launch huge marketing campaigns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Quinn/672011812 Greg Quinn

    “Reason 2: Monopolies stifle creative innovation”

    This is already in effect with Greenlight. If you look at the 50 games that have been Greenlit, most of them are in the most popular/mainstream genres.. the genre diversity is kept to a minimum, what the masses vote for the, the masses will get, which leaves the lesser mainstream genres on PC such as sports or racing games, never being Greenlit.. this in essence leaves indie developers of those games, such as myself, looking to other less profitable platforms to sell my game through.

  • Galenmereth

    This whole article is such a piece of turd. It’s “what if’s” and “could be’s” and describing Steam as a monopoly which isn’t true by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, they’re the best option, but they’re not stopping other people from trying. I believe Ajax19 was being kind when he said “interesting article”, because it’s not an interesting article.

  • Crappy Website

    AAAAAAAND steam greenlight getting indie games onto steam.
    stfu.

  • CodenameD

    Steam has done a great job but sadly it’s still has pretty annoying practices.

    (1) Terrible Client. Steam Client is one such that disconnects at every opportunity. Once it does, it needs to fucking update all over (Steam: somebody must have tinkered with me because I failed to update, maybe because of shitty programming? Must. Update. Now). It takes me 10 minuites to log in. (I can log in Skype within 10 seconds). It takes me 30 minuites to download the “validated” information about a Game. Add that up with the 3 days of download time and that’s how long I take to play a newly purchased game. Did you stop piracy Steam? Did you kill it for good? Huh?

    You can’t! Because they’re doing it. And doing it right! Every pirated copy of Steam games not only just download once, but they are run as soon as you are finished downloading them. If I upgrade my graphics card, they don’t stop to verify (and redownload entire 7 gigs once again) if it’s the same computer as the last time.

    (2) Internet required to play Single Player. Yes they still exist. I just can’t sit with this one. I don’t need to fucking play with people online or patch to the latest version. IF there are bugs LET THERE BE BUGS! It’s just me and myself Goddamnit! I know there is an fucking offline mode but it doesn’t help if Steam doesn’t let me utilize the option. It insists I update first! Brings me to the next point…

    (3) Download even when DVD is present. Okay I buy the retail copy because it’s way cheaper than that price Steam sells it for. But I pop the disc and the only thing that gets installed is Steam client. It tries to download an entire 8 GB of data from the internet when it’s on the damn DVD! Let’s be honest, not ALL people comes from first-world countries with 8 Mbps connections. I’m from a third world country where you’d have to sell your liver and kidney to get anything above 1 Mbps WITHOUT Fair Usage Policy. Once FUP limit (which is like 4 GB: nothing compared to todays games) expires the speed reverts back to 256 Kbps. That is our Harsh reality here! Do the maths. Is this just harrassment from steam or what? Before Steam showed up no such bullshit would ever happen! I purchased the DVD so that I wouldn’t have to download! They say there is a workaround BUT IT NEVER WORKED FOR ME. And yes I know my way around a computer.

    (4) Account locked games. When I want to play a game where Steam or Valve was nowhere found in development, I don’t want to use their fucking piece of trash every time I want to play that game (see reason #1). Nor do I want to sign up for an account. I don’t fall for phishing but that doesn’t mean that misunderstandings won’t happen and that Valve would not block my account: losing me the money I spent. Installing on multiple computers is a plus? I could do that… before Steam happened. Carrying save games is a plus? I did that on Flash drives… before Steam happened. And I could access them WITHOUT the internet, anytime, anywhere! Steam, you just made things more miserable.

    Sadly there are far worse than the likes of you: Compared to EA, Activision and Ubisoft, you are God! That’s why, if there are one reason PC gaming is dying it’s this: The best of the worst is still a devil. One of the lesser but still a devil!

    Piracy is your friend in the modern gaming world. Do it. Today!
    Too bad GOG.COM is still short on list of newer games.

  • Gezo

    Youre stupid I bought Civ V for 2 dollars. How is that bad idiot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pmilleroly27 Peter Miller

    I love Steam and I don’t see how they can ever monopolize. Everyone buys from Steam because they offer the best, if they stop offering the best then people can easily shift somewhere else. And your seeing a lot of companies like activision and EA make their own online stores. Ya battle.net and Origin suck compared to Steam, but the demand to play games like Battlefield, mass effect and world of Warcraft are to high. All steam really owns is Value games which is huge to the hardcore crowd, but to the overall public is nothing. Steam is meant for hardcore gamers who are deep into pc gaming while Sony Microsoft and Nintendo are in the console market. Nonetheless any moment steam starts exploiting anybody like gamestop, gamefly, origin, GOG can take the spotlight. But I don’t see that happening, I’m positive valve is one of those for the people kind of companies that never become monopolizing exploiters. Just because you have the power to do something doesn’t mean you will and besides doing so would only make valvue lose power.

  • 94_Cade

    Steam offers free to play games in their store so it’s not like they’re facing any competition and I believe people have always paid $30 for games, but they do it on steam since it’s such a great platform like xbox live.

  • A PC game

    I personally think that Steam is one of the few things keeping gaming alive and if a game is good, they promote it.
    I have seen many indie games get promoted on the front page in the store just because it is a good game.

    Valve is one of the best game companies ever to exist.

  • David

    Totally agree. I recently bought a game from a local games store. When I tried to install the game, the installer ‘forced’ me to install Steam. In other words unless I installed steam, I could not play the game. I will not out of principle install Steam, never. So my game is usless. What’s going on? In any case, I will not buy another game unless the store owner can guarantee that it will run without Steam.

  • Km100

    steam are garbage.. forcing people to install steam just to play another developers games is wrong… customer service from steam is worthless.. not being able to resell the game I BOUGHT.. the game I OWN… is wrong and should be illegal.

  • PC Gamer

    I must confess, I spend more on PC Games *because of valve*

    They make it easy to buy, and see new content, and market indie titles, and save me a trip, and link to reviews, and show top sellers, it’s so efficient it’s mind boggling.

    In addition to spending more, I also now directly support indie games that I would never have purchased before.  They support the bejeezus out of indie games, PC INDIE games.  They have pumped new life into the PC game industry for the time being.

    Lastly, PC games are dying, the PC is dying, and I’ve played the first PCs and nearly any relevant game and I miss the golden 80s of gaming..but it’s going.  Why sit at a desk for *anything* when you can walk around with an ipad and lay on the bed, or sit on the couch, etc.  People will not want to be chained to a desk, even a notebook pc.  Steam will add some lifespan, but in the end portable wins.  The consumer demand for it (based on real reasons) is overwhelming.

  • c…

    Also there are F2P MMO games on steam.

  • C…

    restart steam in offline mode. you can play civ on the road then. 

  • Someone

    Steam does infact tax you. Taxation can accure from online transactions from foreign companies. For example I get charged VAT when in the UK and GST when in Jersey. Brazil’s induvidual tax rate is actually average and lower than that of the average USA and UK taxes.

    The reason games are cheaper on steam is the distrobution costs. Steam has to maintain industrial scale FTP servers, whereas conventional publishers require manufacturing to delievery networks, which cost more. Sure there is then import taxes etc. Steam is probably massively overcharging for its established system, however it is still undercutting classic retail sales, and will always do so.

    Steam also has a fairly worldwide monopoly on games, in many countries for quite a while.

    If steam hypothetically destroyed conventional retail it could charge what it wants.

    Anywhos, going off… Onlive is the big thorn in steam’s butt at the moment. They are offering owners of decent broadband streamable content, aka “cloud computing” or “cloud gaming” which essentially is an excellent alternative. Steam could easily delay the inevitable by matching Onlives services (bar the cloud). Onlive currently “loans” you games for as long as they are on their servers. You can also rent games. If steam offered this for the AAA market then I reckon Onlive would be dust in no time. However, Onlive has some strong financial backing due to the counter-piracy effect of cloud computing.

    As much as Onlive is a competitor, the internet requirements, quality of service, and soley loaning games is a big dent for it. Unfortunately I think its been released a few years too early, but we shall see ay?

    But then again, technology changes. Steam will be in forefront of digital distrobution untill a genuine alternative starts to become more viable or undeniably better or more appropriate for the hardware. Apple will always be the biggest media distrobuter for as long as people dont understand the alternatives.

    Monopolies are everywhere. And IMHO, as long as Mr. Gabe is in charge at Valve we have little to fear. Its when he passes his developed monopoly onto money hungry executives who care little for the products/morals, ala Gibson Guitars, for example…

    People follow trends too much. Advertising works. Look at Google and Facebook. They practically control the day-to-day flow of the internet. which is far worse than Mr. Gabe selling me the odd game every now and then that I can play on any machine, anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

  • MonopolyOrNot

    I can only imagine one way for steam to become a monopoly, if they heavily expand to markets abroad, specially markets that have a higher tax rate than the United Sates ex.  Brazil, Czech Republic, Mexico and others, in those markets steam would thrive,they would never be taxed in those countries since they do not legally “exist” there costumers cannot be taxed from buying online abroad because there is no easy way to do so, as a result steam would have absolute supremacy in those markets because a local game store would have to pay over 60% taxes on import fees alone just to sell the game same game that is available on steam “tax-free”, so Steam has the edge in those markets only because they don’t exist in those markets yet there they are, I know they know this, the prof is that they have expanded heavily on third world markets recently adding support to several languages, when none of them were available in the past.

    Free 2 Play games are their way to creep in the piracy cultures of the third world, all my friends and countrymen that used to only play pirated games now have a steam account and started buying games… I used to know only 3 or so ppl IRL that had a steam account now I know of dozens, I used to be a pirate because I couldn’t bring my self to pay over 100% taxes for a single game in a local store and now I own 70+ games in total, my pirating days are over, and the local game stores in Brazil are over as well.

    Origin is not an alternative in those markets,  because they exist in those markets, they used to distribute physical copies of valve’s games in those markets and their billing is in the currency of those markets, so every time I wan’t a 59,99 USD title all I do is speculate on the future dollar a little bit and pay 100 BRL tops, if I wen’t to the game store I’d pay around 220 BRL or so.

    I guess I’ve made my point clear just remember that in the same situation I am others are as well, all over the world and no we cannot afford to care if it becomes a monopoly.

  • FirePlay

    who hate’s Google? Almost everybody has used it in this Computer age

  • FirePlay

    1. GoG is mostly old games. Try looking for Skyrim or even Civilization IV vanilla.
    2. GoG is mostly old games and D2D is slowly dieing even though they fake it.
    3. I knew nearly every single “OLD” games on steam and i’m only 18. Maybe you should try getting off the internet more often and live an actual life.
    4.Pay more attention moron…
    5.  Are you saying you like having a company control your water system or would you rather run your own system.

  • guest

    Okay,…I’m a little surprised that this article is still getting comments after being written in May of 2010. I found it doing a search for PC games that don’t use Steam. I have a Playstation 2 that I bought years ago when the price came down to $129. I’ve enjoyed playing games like Psi-ops and Psychonauts,…but RE4 was probably my favorite. I’ve found little that compares to RE4 and was hoping to get an adapter that would let me plug my Playstation 2 controller,(can’t stand keyboard for games), into the computer so I could play computer games that are on par with the PS3 and/or Xbox games that are currently out.

    Nobody carries the adapter. Well, other than Amazon or Ebay. So I went ahead and bought a controller and Left4Dead2. I don’t know why,(or when), but I registered with either Playstation or Steam some years ago and when I tried to create an account I got the error message saying I already had an account. I got the account name and a code by e-mail to reset my password but then it asks for an answer to a “secret” question. I didn’t remember having an account. How am I going to remember the answer to a question asked 7-8 years ago? Isn’t the case sensitive answer just a second password!?

    Anyway,…I’ve got two questions in support,(since early this afternoon), and don’t expect them to be answered any time soon. I can’t login to my account so I can’t play the game. I was really looking forward to starting a new game with good graphics. I ended up searching for games that don’t rely on Steam. In my opinion Steam has already reached a level of “too big” where they don’t have to respond to questions posted by users. Right now,…I’m hating Steam.

    Their forums are also down for maintenance. I’m also not fond of their suggestions for troubleshooting your connection. Bypass your router? Disable all anti-virus? Connect by wire directly to your modem? Steams fucked up.

  • back_in_the_real_world

    Fantasy…

  • Chris

    Practical Relevance? You must be tied to Steam. They are constantly feeding me advertisements, they control access to the game i paid retail at Staple for my game i did not buy a “liscence” to play. If i choose to re-sell the game i bought – i will! Their security sucks – google “hack steam” and there is plenty of solutions – and that ip crap onley works if you don’t use a proxy like hidemyass.com Personally i will never again purchase a game that requires steam! Actually i am now checking out hacks to their “service”

  • Fernando

    Maybe Steam is bad for some of the industry, but not all of it. Both Steam and Facebook won’t exist – read “be on top” – forever. Things like this has happened som many times before!

  • Guest

    One does not enjoy paying for a toll road, but the benefit of using it over the heavily congested primary road makes it worth the cost.

  • Rock

    What I Don’t like about Steam, the way they work their concept, is that of the 30+ games I and my family have on our PC, all but 2 are controlled by Steam. Not out of my choice, and because I paid the various amounts of money for the games only to actually only have paid a fee to play the games. I can’t play them if I’m not connected to the internet, or without using Steam. Thus, I don’t own the games, I paid a license-to-play fee. If Steam were to, *gasp*, go bottoms up or start charging yet another fee, I will have lost my investment and my games completely. We used to “buy” games, DL them and play, at least single player mode, as we chose, internet connection or not. Now, Steam actually “owns” the games I paid for. Do I own my car that I paid for ? Yep. God help us if this idea catches on and companies start allowing some middle man to own and control our use of the products we pay for. Don’t have Onstar ? sorry, your car won’t start until you do. etc. But, back to gaming, I don’t appreciate paying for a game that I play 100% single player, which is All my games, I don’t play multiplayer, only to find I Must have an internet connection, and Steam, to play. For multiplayer it seems somewhat appropriate, but for single player its just a control factor that is unwelcome, unnecessary, and ludicrous as regards paying money for a game and then someone else controls it. Further, the appearance of Steam as the obvious monopoly is also unwelcome. No matter how good they are they are not a choice. They’re required. If we are multiplayers, and need such a service, shouldn’t we be allowed to pick our service rather than have Steam assigned to us ?  They should all be listed with the consumer picking which service they prefer. All Freedom of choice issues are certainly solved by allowing such a business to become a middle man, and further to become a monopoly and Tell Us what games we’ll be offered, and that we can only play the games if we use them via internet and Steam. Besides, our payment is only a license fee to play in actuality. Well, I would think a significant other layer of Choice should be placed in the mix. Mine would be simple: no Steam, no anybody. I just want to buy the games and play them, singleplayer, without also having to pay for or provide an internet connection. Oops, that would mean I’m not an available target for more market control, gee, how sad, I actually could exercise my Choice. The gaming industry wouldn’t suffer though, I and Many Many others are long time gamers, and love new games, improvements and innovations. Other than as a Multiplayer service I just can’t imagine any real need for companies like Steam.

  • Yanni

    I don’t understand why all the hate for this article? If people read any history they would know that this is EXACTLY how you seize power… Slowly, nicely, gain momentum and when you are strong enough: coup d’état

    Recognizing this behaviour allows us to see other scenarios where it may applicable. I think that’s the gist of this article : absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Fuck you? Really…? That’s your best counter?

  • Anonymous

    I love when people hate something because it’s popular. You compare Valve to google and facebook… I really don’t know about you… but I fucking love google and facebook is a damn life line if I’ve ever seen one. The only reason google and facebook are as big as they are is because they went forward and did so many things right that they end up in a position where their products are better than the competition. Exact same thing with Valve.

    There is still competition out there, EA has proved that and really it would only take a few mammoth publishes like EA (say Ubisoft and Activision) to jump ship and bam, steam has … well… lost a lot of it’s steam (bad pun?) 😛 Steam and Valve are dependent on those companies for their mammoth selling gmaes (and can’t get by on indie titles alone) and thus I believe that the whole idea of Valve becoming a huge monster (as you say) is insane.

    I personally love steam. For the simple fact that their software and services are top notch… and I get tons of games for a fraction of what you pay for them most other places (I remember buying L4D for $1.24 at one point and christmas sales can throw 50+ games in an $80 price tagged bag). Then the whole auto-patching, integrated chat client, ease of accessing DLC, support forums and just the community in general is so vastly superior to a lot of these other ‘digital content providers’ which more or less simply offer a weak store front and send you on your way.

  • Nilokniop

    All you STEAM lovers are sheep! Your the same kind of morons that probably enjoy paying toll roads.

  • Stealth Sli

    Sam Hyatt, go play in traffic sir.

    OP – I am on the fence as far as how I should reply to your article. I most definitly agree with you on the point of being weary of what Steam may become some time in the future. I also agree with many folks that I really dont feel threatened by them. I feel that Steam is a great way to deliver games and possibly the best way. This form of marketing is the future of marketing. While at the moment it is still relatively fledgeling, everything will eventually become digital (as in digitally transmitted to the user) even if that means buying a game card at a store with a code that allows you to download the content once you are home.

    This is inevitable. It is being done everywhere. Netflix, Hulu, VuduHD, Sony Online, Xbox Live, Steam, OnLive, and countless other digital delivery systems. As more and more people become connected with always on broadband connections things such as this will become more and more prevalant (lol spelling) Anyhow back to case and point.

    Steam was created by gamers who themselves create games. While the potential is there to monopolize and rule the game market with an iron fist, i really dont see that happening. I think that when it comes down to it they are just doing everything right. They are, if anything, making it easier to market your content (i.e. indies), and giving you the world to market to. The more Steam becomes a standard in desktop gaming the more your potential consumers will see your product. Its the internet strictly for games and about games. Steam is an opportunity that Indie Devs have never had in the past.

    That being said, I would be more worried about the big time devs and publishers making AAA titles. The easier that content creation tools become available to the little guys (i.e. Unreal Engine and countless other), and the easier they are able to market to the consumer (i.e. Steam and others) the more of a threat they pose to larger companies. One example is a new game titled Hawken. It is a mech combat game that looks gorgeous and extremely fun to play, and is being developed by 6-9 people if im correct? Next to that you have a monster title being brought back to life Mech Warrior, and after researching it I belive Hawken is going to blow the doors off what we all thought mech combat could be. Thus competeing fiercly with a triple A title with a huge fan base.

    Anyhow I have gotten so off topic i forget what my original point was but I stand behind Steam and I appreciate your article it was well thought out and a good read. Lets all hope that Steam remains the golden child of PC gaming :-)

  • Stealth Sli

    Sam Hyatt, go play in traffic sir.

    OP – I am on the fence as far as how I should reply to your article. I most definitly agree with you on the point of being weary of what Steam may become some time in the future. I also agree with many folks that I really dont feel threatened by them. I feel that Steam is a great way to deliver games and possibly the best way. This form of marketing is the future of marketing. While at the moment it is still relatively fledgeling, everything will eventually become digital (as in digitally transmitted to the user) even if that means buying a game card at a store with a code that allows you to download the content once you are home.

    This is inevitable. It is being done everywhere. Netflix, Hulu, VuduHD, Sony Online, Xbox Live, Steam, OnLive, and countless other digital delivery systems. As more and more people become connected with always on broadband connections things such as this will become more and more prevalant (lol spelling) Anyhow back to case and point.

    Steam was created by gamers who themselves create games. While the potential is there to monopolize and rule the game market with an iron fist, i really dont see that happening. I think that when it comes down to it they are just doing everything right. They are, if anything, making it easier to market your content (i.e. indies), and giving you the world to market to. The more Steam becomes a standard in desktop gaming the more your potential consumers will see your product. Its the internet strictly for games and about games. Steam is an opportunity that Indie Devs have never had in the past.

    That being said, I would be more worried about the big time devs and publishers making AAA titles. The easier that content creation tools become available to the little guys (i.e. Unreal Engine and countless other), and the easier they are able to market to the consumer (i.e. Steam and others) the more of a threat they pose to larger companies. One example is a new game titled Hawken. It is a mech combat game that looks gorgeous and extremely fun to play, and is being developed by 6-9 people if im correct? Next to that you have a monster title being brought back to life Mech Warrior, and after researching it I belive Hawken is going to blow the doors off what we all thought mech combat could be. Thus competeing fiercly with a triple A title with a huge fan base.

    Anyhow I have gotten so off topic i forget what my original point was but I stand behind Steam and I appreciate your article it was well thought out and a good read. Lets all hope that Steam remains the golden child of PC gaming :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000015837379 Sam Hyatt

    I hate Steam because then where’s the PC Game Piracy Scene go?! I won’t be able to get my games the way I like ’em…TORRENTS!!! Steam won’t be the death of TPB or anything, but groups like SKIDROW and RELOADED won’t have much to release if this plague goes on growing! WE MUST HACK STEAM! AND WHAT ABOUT BLACKCATS-GAMES?! THEY ARE THE SHIT! BEST GAMESTRACKER EVER

  • Pingback: News - Why Battlefield 3 won't be making an appearance on Steam - Page 4 - HEXUS.community discussion forums()

  • BlitzkriegBeard

    “Developers and publishers always have the option of consoles, don’t
    they? Every developer and publisher would shrug off their PC customers
    to avoid dealing with the ridiculous fees. Very quickly, Steam would
    lose users as consumers switch from PC to console, and more and more
    games become unavailable on PC.”
    -BlitzkriegBeard

    I would like to amend this previous statement for contextual accuracy. What I’m saying is that Steam would be forced to submit to developers and publishers demands of lowering their share of profit, if Valve wants Steam to survive. Developers don’t want to ignore the PC market, as long as PC consumers are willing to support it. Sure the numbers of PC game sales are relatively small in comparison to that of consoles for most games, but if you do the math, you would have to be insane to ignore such an easily accessible market. Let me give you an example.

    Battlefield: Bad Company 2 PC Worldwide Sales – 618,838
    Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Xbox 360 Worldwide Sales – 2,970,082
    Battlefield: Bad Company 2 PS3 Worldwide Sales – 2,314,254

    Sure PC sales may only account for roughly  8.5% of the total sales, but that still works out to somewhere around an extra $37,130,280 at $60.00 a unit sold for EA DICE and EA. I don’t know about you, but if I was putting a lot of hard work and money into developing a game, I would like to make that extra $37 million. Unfortunately, this source’s PC worldwide sales don’t include America, or Japan, which I can guarantee would add a colossal number to the PC sales. I’m sure you’ll respond to these statistics by pointing out that your article is primarily about the “little guys” in which I would refer you to my previous points about small developers such as Mojang and Riot Games doing just fine.

    On top of everything that I’ve said so far, I would love to point you to your video[5] (Edinburgh Interactive 2010 Nicholas Lovell Part 1) in which you outline that “The internet has made distribution easy”, whilst throughout this entire article you have been trying to suggest that it is in fact hard, or at least for small developers. You also briefly mention in this video “The terminal decline of the console” as well as that you have a book proposed called “Death of the Console”, and that you are deeply biased. So let me get this straight, you believe that “STEAM WILL DESTROY THE PC GAMES INDUSTRY” as well as that consoles will die out. I don’t understand how you can truly believe either of these, let alone both. You’re essentially suggesting that consoles will soon have no place in the gaming industry, as well as that PC games will somehow destroy their own industry, simply because of digital distribution software.

    In light of recent evidence, is it fair to say you believe that the gaming industry in its entirety is somehow declining? I’ve already provided substantial evidence of why digital distribution software, such as steam, wont destroy the PC games industry, and the same information could be used as an example of why there’s no reason to believe that the console industry is on the decline or that it will be soon.

    The fact of the matter is that more games are sold on console, as shown with the previous example of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as well as that PC games have their own place in the industry. The decline of either of these in the next decade would be surprising, apart from external factors such as the U.S. recession. I’ll provide a fresh statistic which calls into question your belief of consoles being on the decline[4]. This chart shows that consoles currently sell an average of 154 million units annually vs PC selling 36.4 million units annually. I fail to see either PC gaming or console gaming on the decline. A more realistic article[6] which outlines some concerns of your beliefs in the “Death of the Console” or “PC GAME INDUSTRY DESTRUCTION”, still suggests that the game industry will grow by 16% by 2015. The article outlines some the current trends of gamers, developers, and publishers, even though it was published over a year ago.

    At this point, I don’t know what more there is to say about this article. I’ve gone over every aspect of why what you’re suggesting makes little to no sense, and furthermore you have no evidence as to why you believe what you do. Your own opinions and thoughts in your video contradict many aspects of your article. The inconsistencies of your ideas, and lack of evidence in any of them, have compounded so profoundly that your article is irreparably damaged.

    I hope you’ve taken the time to read my responses, and can appreciate that I’m simply giving a critique on your article from a professional standpoint. I don’t mean to come off as rude, as it’s easy to become offended on a personal level when others critique your work in a negative way. I hope this discussion has shown you the importance of siting references and data, as opposed to simply stating an opinion with no evidence.

    Conclusions
    -This article has next to no credibility
    -PC gaming is far from extinction (especially when you take into
    consideration that modern consoles are essentially personal computers)
    -Steam is not a monopoly
    -Steam is unlikely to become a monopoly
    -Steam is great for the PC gaming industry, as it provides services to ease the use of PC games for gamers, and it provides services to ease the distribution of PC games from developers
    -Small and independent developers have the means to thrive with or without the use of Steam
    -Console gaming is far from extinction although it will undergo changes in the future, as all industries usually do

    Happy gaming!

    -BlitzkriegBeard

    References
    [1] http://gamrreview.vgchartz.com/sales/31444/battlefield-bad-company-2/
    [2] http://gamrreview.vgchartz.com/sales/31439/battlefield-bad-company-2/
    [3] http://gamrreview.vgchartz.com/sales/31438/battlefield-bad-company-2/
    [4] http://www.onlineeducation.net/videogame
    [5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8BejCxzuc4&feature=player_embedded
    [6] http://venturebeat.com/2010/05/25/video-game-industry-to-hit-70-billion-by-2015-but-growth-will-slow/

  • BlitzkriegBeard

    The points of this article should be trying to prove is how or why STEAM WILL DESTROY THE PC GAMES INDUSTRY. I have gone over each and every single one of your points and how and why they’re wrong, whilst providing sources and evidence. The article itself provides no evidence and proves nothing, and even the theoretical suggestions have little to any bearing.

    “I don’t understand your comment. My points aren’t trying to prove that
    Steam is a monopoly; they are answering the question ‘Why does it matter
    [for the gaming market if Steam becomes so powerful that it can dictate
    terms to its partners.'”

    -Nicholas Lovell

    You say that your points aren’t trying to prove that Steam is a monopoly, but the first two points of your article are about the negatives of monopolies, and how people should be thinking of Steam as a monopoly, or at the least that Steam is trending towards being a monopoly. You’re quite literally contradicting the contents of your own article.

    To address your new question, companies don’t have to be powerful to dictate terms to their partners, typically all partners dictate terms to each other, whether it be a established company or a married couple. You do the laundry, and I’ll mow the lawn. Get it?

    “The catalyst came for the post came during the drafting of How to
    Publish a Game. In it, I recommended that indie developers got on as
    many platforms as possible. Developers who read the first draft said ‘Don’t bother, Steam is so dominant that you should concentrate on Steam
    and your own website first. Other sites are afterthoughts’”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    This basis of your original recommendation is absurd. I assume by platform you mean platform, as in gaming platform. Recommending an indie developer (usually limited on funds) to target as many platforms as possible would be costly, and they probably wont have the money to do it. I assume when you say “target as many platforms as possible”, you mean target as many platforms as possible, as in that a indie developer should release their game for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, etc. If this were the case, the finance department would tell you that you’re going to run your company bankrupt.

    I think what may have happened in your response here is that you have
    misused the word platform, when what you meant to say was online
    distributor. If this is the case, you should take more care when writing
    if you want to be taken seriously. What an indie developer should do when choosing a platform to distribute their game on, and what I imagine most developers do, is some market research to see which platform’s consumers will be likely to purchase their game. If the supposed developer is making an E for everyone happy go lucky game, release it for the Wii; M for mature multiplayer focused first-person shooter, release it for the Xbox 360, etc.

    What developers have supposedly told you about Steam being dominant is common knowledge to just about any PC gamer. I’ve already pointed out in my previous response just why Steam being a dominant online distributor isn’t an issue for the PC gaming industry. I’ve thoroughly explained how Steam is moreover helping the PC gaming industry instead of harming it, and you’ve yet to respond with any valid argument.

    “I did further digging, and (although I confess that this is anecdotal),
    discovered that for many companies, Steam outsold all the other digital
    distribution sites combined by a factor of 10. That’s a pretty dominant
    position.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    You’ve yet to provide references or any sources of your information, although I have already agreed that Steam through any PC gamers eyes has a firm hold on their position as a digital distributor.

    “I’m concerned that if Steam has a monopoly position, and can control what games it chooses to distribute, it limits choice.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    Once more you speak of Steam becoming a monopoly, when you previously almost verbatim stated that your article isn’t about Steam being or becoming a monopoly, see text below. You’re whole article is based upon the possibility of Steam becoming a monopoly, and as such you should look at Steam’s current position in its field, as well as the future possibilities. You’re essentially disregarding my positions simply because I’m looking at the current situation, as well as the future. From what I can understand, you’re trying to ignore my points simply because I have backed them with substantial evidence, instead of just posing theoretical situations with no evidence, as you have.

    “I don’t understand your comment. My points aren’t trying to prove that
    Steam is a monopoly…”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    “I was sounding a warning about what happens if a service becomes to
    powerful. Peter Boivin, an anti-trust lawyer, gave his reasons why he
    thought Steam didn’t satisfy the conditions of being a monopoly, and I
    republished his post (http://www.gamesbrief.com/2010…. His arguments are a lot more compelling than yours.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    So now, after saying that your article isn’t about Steam being a monopoly, you refer me to someone who argued why Steam isn’t a monopoly “more compelling than I” as a passive aggressive insult. I hope you can appreciate the irony of everything that you’re writing.

    “On point 3, this isn’t a contract issue, or a technical issue. I’m
    concerned that if Steam has a monopoly position, and can control what
    games it chooses to distribute, it limits choice. On a society level,
    this could constrain games in the same way that movies were essentially
    censored during the period that the Hollywood Studios adhered to the
    unelected, unaccountable Motion Picture Production Code (1934-1954). If
    Steam came to dominate distribution and decided, say, that any game that
    showed religion in a bad light couldn’t be published, that would be
    bad.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    I of course agree that the possible unreasonable censorship of video games would be bad for the industry and for everyone, but this point, as with all your points, provides no evidence to suggest that Steam would ever do such a thing. Also, Steam has no control over what games are published, they only have control over what games they distribute. The worst that would happen in this scenario is that Steam wouldn’t distribute the game. The game would still be created and distributed some other way.

    “But focusing on the little guy, I’m saying that a monopoly can, if it
    wishes too, keep out anybody it wants, just because it wants to. Without
    the threat of competition, control becomes all the easier. That’s why I
    want us all to keep an eye on Steam, and ensure that there are viable
    competitors.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    The point you are trying to make here is redundant, as I already stated in the very beginning of my first rebuttal (see text below) that you’re simply pointing out the obvious. Yes monopolies are monopolies, and they can be bad, which is why there are laws against them. Even as that stands, some would argue that laws against monopolies cause more harm than good.

    “Congratulations, you read and regurgitated the definition of what a monopoly is and what it does…”
    -BlitzkriegBeard

    “Point 4: if Steam is a monopoly, there aren’t viable options. That’s the
    whole point. When I wrote the post, Origin didn’t exist, and the
    developers I spoke said that Steam was so dominant that they were 10x
    the size of everyone else put together. Think about that. You either get
    on Steam, or you don’t and get a 90% drop in your income. That’s pretty
    tough.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    Let’s assume for a second that this happens, and Steam becomes a digital distribution monopoly which every developer must go through to get their games to audiences on the PC. Developers and publishers always have the option of consoles, don’t they? Every developer and publisher would shrug off their PC customers to avoid dealing with the ridiculous fees. Very quickly, Steam would lose users as consumers switch from PC to console, and more and more games become unavailable on PC. Developers and publishers have more power than you give them credit for, and the likelihood of Steam or any video game digital distribution service becoming a monopoly is small.

    “Oh, and I hope you appreciate the irony of putting forward Microsoft and
    Electronic Arts as the potential saviour of the little guy.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    I don’t really see the irony, no. All new developers start out as “little guys”, and their product either makes or brakes them. I’m sure major game companies like Microsoft and Electronic Arts understand this better than you, and are willing to support new games created by “little guys” as much as anyone else. I’m sure this is especially true when all you’re talking about is a distribution service, which as I previously discussed, the development of cloud computing has made easier than ever. On top of this, I’ll let you think about the fact that Microsoft published Castle Crashers, which was independently developed by The Behemoth, and received a 82/100 Metascore and 9.3/10 User Score on Metacritic.com.

    “Point 5: You’re right. You don’t get the point I’m trying to make.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    If you truly feel that I don’t understand your point, or the topic being discussed, I would be very surprised. I feel that I’ve shown an exemplary understanding of the video game industry, and that I’ve addressed all of your points with reason and accuracy.

    Conclusions

    -This article has next to no credibility
    -PC
    gaming is far from extinction (especially when you take into
    consideration that modern consoles are essentially personal computers)
    -Steam is not a monopoly
    -Steam is unlikely to become a monopoly
    -Steam
    is great for the PC gaming industry, as it provides services to ease
    the use of PC games for gamers, and it provides services to ease the
    distribution of PC games from developers
    -Small and independent developers have the means to thrive with or without the use of Steam

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    I don’t understand your comment. My points aren’t trying to prove that Steam is a monopoly; they are answering the question “Why does it matter [for the gaming market if Steam becomes so powerful that it can dictate terms to its partners.]”
    The catalyst came for the post came during the drafting of How to Publish a Game. In it, I recommended that indie developers got on as many platforms as possible. Developers who read the first draft said “Don’t bother, Steam is so dominant that you should concentrate on Steam and your own website first. Other sites are afterthoughts”
    I did further digging, and (although I confess that this is anecdotal), discovered that for many companies, Steam outsold all the other digital distribution sites combined by a factor of 10. That’s a pretty dominant position.
    I was sounding a warning about what happens if a service becomes to powerful. Peter Boivin, an anti-trust lawyer, gave his reasons why he thought Steam didn’t satisfy the conditions of being a monopoly, and I republished his post (http://www.gamesbrief.com/2010/06/steam-is-not-a-monopoly/). His arguments are a lot more compelling than yours.
    On point 3, this isn’t a contract issue, or a technical issue. I’m concerned that if Steam has a monopoly position, and can control what games it chooses to distribute, it limits choice. On a society level, this could constrain games in the same way that movies were essentially censored during the period that the Hollywood Studios adhered to the unelected, unaccountable Motion Picture Production Code (1934-1954). If Steam came to dominate distribution and decided, say, that any game that showed religion in a bad light couldn’t be published, that would be bad.
    But focusing on the little guy, I’m saying that a monopoly can, if it wishes too, keep out anybody it wants, just because it wants to. Without the threat of competition, control becomes all the easier. That’s why I want us all to keep an eye on Steam, and ensure that there are viable competitors.
    Point 4: if Steam is a monopoly, there aren’t viable options. That’s the whole point. When I wrote the post, Origin didn’t exist, and the developers I spoke said that Steam was so dominant that they were 10x the size of everyone else put together. Think about that. You either get on Steam, or you don’t and get a 90% drop in your income. That’s pretty tough.
    Oh, and I hope you appreciate the irony of putting forward Microsoft and Electronic Arts as the potential saviour of the little guy.
    Point 5: You’re right. You don’t get the point I’m trying to make.
     
    I’m sorry that you think that this article has next to no credibility. I’m impressed with the amount of time you spent to prove that point. I’m always grateful for discussion.

  • BlitzkriegBeard
  • BlitzkriegBeard

    Many others have already made cases pointing out the validity (or invalidity) of this article, but I suppose I could nail the casket shut for some closure. If I want to make your entire article look like a complete farce, I suppose I should start by going over each of your your 5 points.

    1. Monopolies stifle distribution innovation

    Congratulations, you read and regurgitated the definition of what a monopoly is and what it does. You try to support your “reason” with the vague suggestion that “we should be thinking of Steam in the same way…” and thus Steam is comparable to other monopolies. You give no comparison of Steam to other digital distribution services, nor facts of why we should be thinking of steam as a monopoly. When you’re creating an article, you should provide some evidence as to what you think or believe, not just insist that it’s true because you think it is. Here’s a statistic that could have helped your article, Steam Community activity (last 48 hours): 2,439,018 GAMERS ONLINE.

    2. Monopolies stifle creative innovation

    I’d hate to repeat myself, so I’ll just let you consider that you could have combined point 1 and 2 into a single point. I’ll even help you with the possible title, Monopolies stifle innovation. In point 2 you make the same mistake as point 1, in which you relay “information” based solely on things you think and/or hear.

    “I keep hearing that is getting harder and harder to get onto Steam, and if you don’t, then your game won’t sell.”
    -Nicholas Lovell

    In this point you surprisingly don’t actually write anything related to the title, such as about Steam’s creative innovation, or how they’re “stifling” others innovation. Instead you make a frivolous point about how Steam has control of what goes on Steam, which must be shocking to most. I don’t expect that you’ve ever opened a can of Coca-Cola and found that the contents were actually Pepsi. You know why? Because Coca-Cola has control over what goes in its own can.

    So lets move onto the point that you make which is unrelated to the title, yes Steam can deny distribution of games through its own software. This might matter more if there weren’t other companies which developers could go through to distribute their software, such as Electronic Arts, the world’s largest publisher of video game software[1]. On top of this, some of the most recent successful PC games have been distributed through their own developer, such as Minecraft[2] and League of Legends[3]. Minecraft, which is almost solely distributed through Minecraft.net has managed to sell a current total of 2,927,859 units. Unfortunately, I can’t find any information on how difficult it is for a developer to distribute their game through Steam, but I imagine with small developers like Dejobaan Games, EasyGameStation, and Exor Studios managing to find their way to Steam, it can’t be too hard.

    3. The little guys don’t get a look in

    In this part of the article you suggest that Steam might just up and stop supporting the “little guys” because it isn’t cost effective. I’m no legal expert here, but I assume that when a developer goes through Steam to distribute its game, Steam gets a cut of the profit, and Steam has to support the developer’s game for a predetermined period of time. While this predetermined period of time could be forever, it is more likely that developers sign 3-5 year contracts, thus making it legally impossible for Steam to stop supporting a “little guy”, unless they want to be sued.

    On top of this, recent years have brought the PC world the wonders of Cloud Computing[4]. I’m not going to get in-depth here, but to put it in layman’s terms, Steam has little to no reason to stop supporting “little guys” because if people aren’t downloading a developers game through Steam, they’re using 0% of Steam’s network resources. The game would just be sitting on a server, waiting to be downloaded, costing Steam next to nothing. If nobody wants to download the game, it’s likely because the developer failed, and has nothing to do with Steam.

    4. Steam has all the pricing power

    This point backtracks and highlights some of the “concepts” that you already mentioned in point 3, which is that being a “little guy” is difficult. Here you proceed to suggest that Steam could demand a larger cut of the profit from a small developer because the game might not sell without Steam. While this may be true, nobody is forcing a developer to sign an outrageous contract with Steam where Steam might take 90% of the profit. Developers always have options, and if Steam was demanding too much, simply look for another solution.

    If a developer made a game and was solely depending on Steam to distribute it, they’re inept at surviving in a competitive industry and probably weren’t meant to succeed. Even considering this, a developer could always turn to other companies if Steam shut them down. Currently Microsoft Windows offers Games for Windows[5] and Electronic Arts offers Origin, Powered by EA[6]. If I were a struggling developer, I’d consider both of those as viable back-up options, although releasing it independently would probably be the best choice, and allow your company to grow.

    5. Valve doesn’t need to promote the platform
    “For all their weaknesses, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo spend a lot of
    money promoting and improving their platforms. Steam doesn’t improve the
    PC as a gaming device. I am a lot more comfortable about oligopolies
    when there is something in it for the consumer (like subsidized home
    consoles, for example).”

    -Nicholas Lovell

    I’m not sure what you’re actually trying to get at with this point. Lets take a step back and have a look at current consoles.

    Original Xbox 360 Hardware[7]
    -CPU: 90nm Xenon
    -GPU: 90nm ATI Xenos
    -Power Supply: 203 W
    -Disc Drive: 12x DVD drive
    -Motherboard: Xenon
    -Ram: 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM
    -Hard drive: 2.5″ SATA hard disk drives (HDDs)

    Personal Computer Hardware[8]
    -CPU: Customizable
    -GPU: Customizable
    -Power Supply: Customizable
    -Disc Drive: Customizable
    -Motherboard: Customizable
    -Ram: Customizable
    -Hard drive: Customizable

    I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to get at, but just in case you don’t, I’ll elaborate. Consoles are personal computers in disguise, and personal computers are everything that consoles will never be. You have an apparent disliking towards Steam simply because they didn’t create the personal computer, whereas Sony created the PS3, Microsoft created the Xbox 360, and Nintendo created the Wii. I can’t understand why you feel this way, and by this logic you should dislike game developers, because they only make the games, they don’t have to spend any money to make the console either. Your misplaced hatred could equally be shared with semi-trailer truck delivery companies which deliver the games to retailers, after all why should they make a profit off of a video game release when all they have to do is deliver the game.

    I’ve grown tired of creating simple analogies and weary from the sheer amount of time I’ve spent explaining the vast amount of issues with this article. I hope this article response has been informative, and enlightening to anyone who partakes an interest in the video game development industry.

    Conclusions

    -This article has next to no credibility
    -PC gaming is far from extinction (especially when you take into consideration that modern consoles are essentially personal computers)
    -Steam is not a monopoly
    -Steam is great for the PC gaming industry, as it provides services to ease the use of PC games for gamers, and it provides services to ease the distribution of PC games from developers
    -Small and independent developers have the means to thrive with or without the use of Steam
    References[1] http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Electronic_Arts_%28ERTS%292 http://www.minecraft.net/stats.jsp3 http://na.leagueoflegends.com/news/youve-grown-league-legends-massive-game4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing5 http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/PC6 http://source.origin.com/ca/about7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox_360_hardware#Motherboards8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer_hardwareSincerely,The man formerly known as Guest.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Any particular reason?

  • Guest

    Your article is bad and you should feel bad.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    test

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell
  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell
  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell
  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell
  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell
  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell
  • guest

    I so disagree that saved anything.  All it did was put crappy interface on some cheap discount items.  Sure they will have people buying through them if can get cheap, and thats fine.  It when companies force the use of platform like this nomatter where you buy the game that gets me irked.  I do not like steam, do not want it installed on my machine and have not nor will never buy a game through them, but still have to have it installed if want to play a game that bought through a retail store.  I dont understand why have to have this unsecure easy to hack my data software installed in order to play a game that just playing by myself on my own machine for.  Steam is so buggy too, took me 2 days and multiple relogins for just to install a game that had dvd for local.  So stupid, think they would use the local copy of game to install, but no.

  • guest

    I so agree with you.  Steam sucks so bad, cant even play dang games bought from best buy without using dang steam client.  So bleeping wrong, dang I hate that.  Have to be more carefull in future and forever boycott companies like 2k games in future for screwing me with steam.

  • guest

    I disagree about it being best.  I hate it with a passion. Forces to be connected to internet to even see the games you supposedly own.  Why can you not play a game that you bought at a store, unless your logged into stream.  Thats just plain stupid to me.  Can understand the must connect to stream to install or update, since they want to protect thier software, dont like it but can understand it, but to not even allow you to play it without connecting first is outlandish to me.  I made mistake of buying one game like this, but will not make that mistake again.  Stream is a hackers heaven, so much easy to grab data out thier on thier players, shoot even i was able to gather data on people without any effort in the 10 minute i had that junk installed, before i removed it and whiped the registry of anything remotely related to steam.

  • guest

    You must work for them.  Yes in a perfect world, your always at home and always can connnect.  For some of us though, jobs require allot of travel and want to be able to spend time using things paid good money for, without having to pay hotel extra 15 dollars just so can login to steam to unlock the game paid 50 bucks for.  I admit i screwed up not verifying could actually play the game without selling out to crappy steam connection required.  Will not make that mistake again, and will make sure to never buy another 2k game, as they are ones that screwed me with steam this time, or any game that requires steam.

  • guest

    OMG, i bought a game at a store, Civilization 5, and you have to use steam and be logged into it to play or even install it.  That is such bull.  Bought the game to use on the road, cause dont have internet, now stuck only playing when have internet, and have that crappy steam app installed and running in order to even start the game.  What crap, will never by another 2k game, or any game that requires using steam to even play it.  Am so POed right now, through away 50 bucks.

  • Wqerwerwer

    This has to be one of the most ignorant posts I have ever read in my life! Monopolies are a bad thing UNLESS they are held by VALVe! 

  • Anonymous

    Monopolies are very bad, everybody knows, but there are alternatives such encouragement that people with a brain can choose to support, so the price is reasonable and that the consumer has some influence.

  • Jake Alpert

     Steam requires an internet connection only to log on initially. So… how would you get your games in the first place, other than brick and mortar?

    Also, you can SET each game if you like to not auto-update. Settings are hard, mmkay?

    Steam doesn’t take ANY processing power. Are you running a Pentium 4?

    Blame the developers if they choose Steam as their anti-piracy or anti-cheat. Mail them a letter. Don’t blame a perfectly valid DRM that is non-instrusive and doesn’t require you to be online (again, you can login, then go offline for however long you want).

    Steam exclusives? What are you smoking? Most “exclusives” are also available on the [indie] developer’s website. Please provide examples.

  • Anonymous

    It not a monopoly. you name three competitors at the very beginning. its just some well deserved economic profit for having provided the best client. you say steam hasnt provided “the marketing muscle, financial support and hardware innovation that Microsoft and Sony needed to give us to get their consoles of their ground.” but what does marketing have to do with quality or price, and it certainly doesnt let “the little guys get a look in”. i dont know what you could possibly mean by financial support. And hardware… we talking about pc gaming right… my computer not valve’s responsibility how can you compare this to xbox and playstation. if anything you should wright something like this about xbox live. and the indie comment, way off, indie gaming is completely viable even for large consoles thanks to digital distribution and lower prices

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  • cracker hacker

    steam has grown to almost 4 million idiot’s that are giving away their information for free not only to hackers but to game developers and manufactures so they can track your online usage.
    Monopoly hell yes, sounds like big brother to me.
    theirs army’s out there hacking steam accounts just because it’s fun and easy.

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  • Andy210484

    i hate steam thinks its a bad idea! what if you don’t have access to the internet all the time with so many games becoming steam activation only how am i meant to play???

  • Finn

    You mean the offline mode that tells you that the “game is not ready for offline play” every single time?

  • Finn

    Danny, if anything, Steam takes away from the gaming experiece. In fact Steam has taken away from the gaming experience so much that I have been turning to platform gaming after being a 15 PC gamer simply because of this program.

    1) Auto-patching. While this is great for multiplayer games like MMOs or Online shooters, this is a HORRIBLE thing for single player games. Buy an IN STORE copy of Civilization 5 and you can’t play the game unless you are willing to wait 9 hours for the forced patch to complete.

    2) Internet requirements of Steam. A player needing an active internet connection to play a single player game is simply rediculous.

    3) Processing requirements of Steam. The steam program requires more processing power than most of the games it supports. And the fact that IN STORE copies of games will not operate unless steam is running at the same time makes this especially obnoxious.

    4) Game access on Steam. IN STORE copies of games require you to access Steam before initiating the game is so immensly frustrating.

    5) Steam Exclusives. There are way to many games on the market that you can only get on Steam. It’s poor and sloppy design is something you simply have to put up with if you want to play just about any game on the PC. And you even have to put up with it if you go out and buy a game in store.

  • Slim934

    The reply to this point is to say that if customers really want to see indie games then SOME SORT of service will show up to catalog which indie games are there for purchase.

    And to mention some other commentors, Steam has not started to do any of the things that you claim it has the power to do. I think there is a reason for this (given that they are overwhelmingly in a position to do all of these things now). They know who their audience is, and they know if they get overwhelmingly prickish with them it will likely not end well for them in the long term.

    The other reason is I think they understand that is that they know that even with the level of power that they have they know they are not really a monopoly. I have seen you quote Joseph Schumpeter before, which means you likely have atleast a small inkling of insight into Austrian economics. One of the lessons from that school is that the entire concept of monopoly as it is defined is flawed both theoretically and practically in the long-term assuming all things being equal. For example: yes they hold a huge level of market power in relation to the distribution of games. But only if you narrowly define “monopoly” as including the sort of boxed titles that used to be sold at retail, and completely throw aside any other sort of gaming. THEN there is the fact that most of the games on their service do not actually need steam to survive. Think for example of Arkham Asylum, which can be sold through steam but does not inherently require steam service inorder to run. I would guess even many of the games which use steam for authentication could quickly be converted such that they no longer need to. So assuming that consumers get extremely pissy about the Steam service then the original devs can simply break their contracts and sell their games through whichever service games now choose over steam.

    Monopolies only exist to the extent that they have the muscle of the State to keep them afloat. Regardless of what Anti-trust attorneys may tell you monopolies as a rule are always time-dependent phenomenon which do go away.

  • Matt Adams

    And you sir need to take a quick course in capitalism: when a company gets to a certain size it is not a “monopoly” but, is in fact, a monopoly. Laws exist throughout the developed world to deal with these situations and inhibit them.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    I agree. My point on #2 is more theoretical. Right now, Steam is a benign dictator. They “Do No Evil”. Circumstances change, and we should be wary about sleep-walking into them.
    I have nothing but admiration for Steam. We should be careful about what we wish for/allow to flourish, thought.

  • Theheadofabroom

    I for one would love to see steam support under any *nix – there are a lot of games out there that run on *nix such as penumbria, and the rest of the humble indie bundle, however there is nothing like Steam to help popularise them. what the PC market needs is a gaming oriented distro, that would bring PC gaming to the masses. If gamers like myself weren’t forced to pay M$ tax to play FPS the way they were intended (with a keyboard and mouse) and there was a lightweight OS that didn’t drain a gig of ram and half of a humble cpu, then PC gaming wouldn’t be dieing the slow death it is, as more people could afford to own machines powerful enough to play new games.

  • Fochivoma

    I think that Steam is an excellent idea and is far ahead of the rest of the gaming industry. In 5-10 years we will see a fully integrated media platform in which telephony, television, and the web are sold in a single unit. Right now the platform for that appears to be mobile phones, and Apple have shown the way for all over developers.

    The iPad, however (along with Sony's 3D TV) is a false economy. It will not stick. Sony made the same mistake with the mini-disc and many companies have wasted millions in devs that seem to pander to the market's wants, without seeing the 5-10 year product span.

    Steam, though it may seem insidious and damaging to many (along with Facebook and Google), is simply a pioneer, pointing towards that which we will all be using in the future. People are not stupid, on the whole, and developers and artists will always find a way of getting their ideas out there, and once they do, the industry responds.

    Facebook wasn't created to make money, it was created to keep students at a certain university in touch with each other. Google was just another search engine but semantics and linguistics took hold (i.e. Google is a perfect verb). Steam is the next step.

    Personally I would like to see Steam (Valve, their parent company and affiliates) produce a media platform that only plays Steam. A $250 / £200 'PC' that only 'does' Steam. A Steam console, if you like. Stupidly powerful Graphics cards and sound cards and immense CPU's, a console, a console, a console.

    That would kick the industry in the arse and make them all sit up. What OS would this Steam console use? Ubuntu, maybe, something inhouse dev'd, anything. Just not Windows. Not Mac OS, nothing Sony or Nintendo.

    Google? Could they produce a Steam console?

    I wait with bated breath

    The next 5-10 years, people, are going to be F***ing AWESOME.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Thanks for the comment. I also think Steam is great. But there is an adage that you should be careful what you wish for, and not being aware that Steam is getting uber-powerful is potentially dangerous for all of us.

    And I agree that the debate has been great. Some really good responses. I hope to get even more comments in the blog over time.

  • Levethian

    It is a given that Steam is great now, Mr Lovell cautions us to be wary of the future. Once Valve commands the market, there will be no substantial competition for other publishers to turn to should Valve start demanding extortionate cuts.

    Let's hope it doesn't come to that. I adore steam at the moment.

    I think media journalism like this supposed to be inflammatory, and it is clearly not an attack on Valve or Steam as it stands. I've enjoyed the resultant debate/comments. :)

  • Stefankendall

    You're really overreacting. In fact, the free market DOES NOT REQUIRE more than a single company to provide a given service. If a single company continues to innovate and offers a service for less than the competitors/better than the competitors, then that company should succeed. If Valve wins, it's because people wanted them to win. That's just it.

    I should point out, also, that it's not even technically difficult to create a digital distribution network, if someone wanted to combat steam. Spore, for example, was released through EA's shitty download/license manager, which clearly needed to fail.

  • Nicolas Lovell = 1D10T

    Try using steam before you talk shit about it. You're a noob. I honestly thought this post was several years old with all the fucking “I'm too good to be using beta software” idiots were roaming the internet.

    Steam promotes EVERYTHING! They have sales several times a month on every genre of game.

    As someone else referenced, I'm guessing your sources are FOX NEWS! Bitch! lol.

  • smokey

    Steam is one of the best things to ever happen to PC gaming. The gamers get a great platform to download and play games for cheap. The developers get money that they would probably have never gotten. I have 30 games on steam 23 of them i would have never bought if it wasn't for steam. Even if the game is only 7 dollars because its on sale for really cheap. thats money that the developer would have never seen. Steam is one of the only DRM that doesn't screw over the consumer. If it wasn't for steam PC gaming would be going backwards with shitty security drm, game stream services like GFWL which is the most horrendous platform to use. STEAM MADE PC GAMING WHAT IT IS TODAY. HELL STEAM MIGHT HAVE EVEN SAVED PC GAMING. get a clue man your fear ranting is plain stupid. While steam is awesome, Its just a retailer that sells a few exclusive games, if it ever rasied prices or didn't sell certain games, people would just go somewhere else.

  • Lukio

    Steam is full of awesome, if it weren't for Steam and only up to the PCGA (Sony, Microsoft, Konami, EPIC – all are strictly console gaming), the PC gaming platform and digital download for games on the PC would be non-existant or on the level of GFWL (which is much worse and more dominating than Steam could ever be)

  • haruspex

    Thank you for your detailed response. It really highlights the issues we see when people start to theorize about such things. When I first read Nicholas's article, my “conspiracy theory” alarms went off. Fear mongering is, in general, bad.

  • haruspex

    Have you tried turning on Offline Mode for Steam?

  • Haha

    I like how every company is so great when they are small and successful, but when they become too successful then they are a “monopoly” that people hate. Wal-Mart, Google, etc. You sir are an idiot.

  • Pissed off Steam user

    Well I want to play Modern Warfare 2 without requiring a Steam client to goddamn play the game!!!!!!! IS THERE ANYWAY I CAN REMOVE STEAM FROM THE GAME SO I CAN PLAY IT AS A PROGRAM AND NOT A NET-STREAMED DOWNLOAD?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Ajax19

    Nicholas,

    Interesting article.

    I am a competition lawyer who deals with these kinds of questions on a daily basis. Having a large percentage of sales (a high market share) is simply one of a number of questions one must ask to determine whether a company has a monopoly or monopoly power.

    There are two basic ways to look at whether a company is a monopoly. The first is pretty rare, but you look to see whether the company can control prices. I am not talking about those super Steam sales, since lower prices are always good for the consumer (unless they are below cost, but that’s another matter entirely), but rather the ability to raise prices about competitive levels. I haven’t seen any evidence of this. As far as I am aware the prices you find on Steam are consistent with the prices you’ll find in the brick & mortar stores and on the smaller digital distribution companies.

    The more common way to try and define monopoly power is to define the “relevant market” and see what share of sales a specific company has. Defining the relevant market is key. For example, if you’re talking Coke and Pepsi and define the relevant market as carbonated soft drinks, these two companies would have a pretty big share. If you defined it more narrowly, cola-flavored carbonated soft drinks, an even higher share. If you were to define the market more broadly, soft drinks or, say, all drinks, then there shares plummet.

    Same goes for Steam. If you’re talking simply “Digital Distribution On PCs”, its share is likely high. If you throw brick and mortar stores (like Gamestop, Best Buy, etc.) or even on-line stores (like Amazon) then that share is likely pretty low.

    One way to determine whether two products are in the same market is to try and test to see how the price of one product affects the price of another. For example, how many consumers would switch from buying a PC game on Steam to buying a PC game from Best Buy if Steam raised its prices by 10%? If enough people would switch, then they are likely in the same market.

    Market share, however, is just the beginning of the analysis. You also have to look at things like barriers to entry and alternative forms of distribution. How hard would it for another company to enter the market if Steam rose prices? Or if Steam refused to carry titles from certain publishers? Can companies effectively digitally distribute their own games without the need to use Steam?

    Based on my understanding of everything and because it’s my nature, I think there are stronger arguments for the Steam is NOT a monopoly side of things than the Steam IS a monopoly. This is based on the fact that I do believe their pricing is restricted by brick and mortar stores and because of ease of entry/alternative forms of distribution. It’s not like Steam prevents you from using other digital distrubtion platforms or other digital distribution means.

    Pretty much every PC game I have purchased since Dec 08 (save one game, the unfortunate “Blood Bowl”) I have bought from Steam. Most purchases were made because of price (older games) or convenience (newer games). I downloaded “Blood Bowl” from the company’s own web store beause it wasn’t available on Steam. I had no problem doing so. If it turned out Steam was jacking up prices, I would either get off my ass and walk to GameStop or remain on my ass and order it off Amazon with, like, three clicks of a mouse button.

    To sum, Steam doesn’t have market power and would likely be seen to compete with both on-line retailers like Amazon and bick and mortar retailers like Best-Buy and Gamestop in a market for the “sale and distrubtion of PC games.”

    As for the government “acting before it's too late”. That's not how it works. You can't place restrictions on a company becuase you're afraid they might become too powerful, unless that company is becoming too powerful through illegal means. By all accounts, Steam has reached the point it is at now – outselling everyone by a factor of 10 – because it is offering a solid product, lower prices, and is innovative. You can't shackle companies for stuff like that. That's only going to chill innovation. Why work hard and make a fantastic product that's better than anything else if the government is just going to punish you for it?

    There is a reason why Microsoft got dinged by the DOJ and European Commission. They were engaging in illegal activities, such a monopoly leveraging and bundling (using their legal monopoly in system operations to grant an illegal monopoly in the internet browser market). Eventually, if a company gets too big, like a Google, competitors, customers and suppliers start complaining and that's when the door opens. Until then, you can't just go after a company based on fear and unfounded speculation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jan-Werder/100000187587021 Jan Werder

    These are the dumbest argument I've ever heard.Steam is supporting Indies like World of Goo and even has its own categorie for Indies.Steam does not build any PC's but their direct partners like Alienware do.Steam is the best gaming platform on the Internet, ever thought of why this could be so?

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Katrina,

    You are right, and I accept that the article was inflammatory. But I've lived in the UK for the last 13 years watching a government bring in terror laws (“which we'll only use, like, to get really bad guys”) and then applying them to people pretending to live in a different street to get their kids into better schools, to Icelandic banks, and to photographers making a living taking pictures of public spaces.

    Similarly, I've seen Google amass a terrifying amount of data with hardly any complaint until the last 18 months or so.

    I think it's important that we are aware that Valve is turning into a monopoly, and what the possible consequences could be. We can then decide if it is serious enough to act.

    It would have been less inflammatory to entitle this piece “Five reasons why Steam might be the death of PC gaming”. I confess that changing “might” to “will” may have been influenced by a desire to stiumlate controversy.

    And, for the record, I currently think Valve are doing great things for the PC gaming community. I just never trust anyone who is getting that much power, no matter how benevolent they seem.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Thank you for that cogent and well argued response.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Maybe I should rephrase that: “Steam doesn't invest in improving the hardware of PCs or spending marketing money to convince new consumers of the value of the platform.”

    My point is that Sony and Microsoft spend huge amount of money creating their oligopolies, and can perhaps claim that they need the economic rent that comes from that to be able to deliver value to their consumers. Valve doesn't: it lets Intel and Nvidia and Dell carry that role, while Steam makes money from selling the software.

    So I acknowledge that Steam has added a lot of innovation to PC gaming – but they are not making the same financial contribution that, for example, Microsoft and Sony are for their consoles, or Apple is for the iPhone/iPad

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    I'm not going to reveal my sources, because I promised I wouldn't. But when a number of developers, big and small, say that Steam outsells *everyone else put together, by a factor of 10″, that's a defacto monopoly. I applaud Valve for having been so good at delivering what consumers want and building a high quality distribution platform that everyone else is floundering in the dust, but just because there are a number of competitors, doesn't mean Steam isn't a de facto monopoly.

    And separately, and this is where I suspect we differ, I do think free MMOs are a threat to Steam. More than that, I think that they are a threat to traditional boxed PC games, because the economics are so much better. They require less risk, less upfront investment and are much more profitable, so many of the better developers will start looking at them. Which will limit the number of old-style PC games made.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    I think my concern was very much about what Steam could become, rather than what it is. Google used to be the hero of the tech world, but is now fast becoming the demon – I wanted to warn that the same might happen to Valve.

  • Katrina

    And the sun could explode tommorow, you are talking about things that COULD happen, and trying to say they will do it.

  • asaratha

    Nicholas Lovell. You're a fucking idiot that needs too read up/Check out what the hell he's' talking about.

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  • Danny

    “Steam doesn’t improve the PC as a gaming device.”

    Invalidates entire article. If you don't know how Steam improves PC gaming then you really really aren't qualified to write anything about PC gaming. Everything from friends lists, to the community aspect, to auto patching, to the ability to re-download games and not worry about discs is a HUGE improvement to the PC as a gaming device.
    Not knowing any of that makes this article just completely ridiculous and comparable to FOX News talking about Mass Effect as an orgasmic sex simulator.

  • FromMonday

    The five points are needlessly inflammatory.

    For one, as I understand things, it's pretty easy to publish a game on Xbox Live's new Indie platform. And let's face it, some of those games are really, really really crappy. Others are decent titles. Some are even great. But right now, there's a viable market for the hobbyist to earn back their investment, if not make a bit of money. Publishing on Xbox Live Arcade requires more of an initial investment, but small game studios can produce a title for a reasonable budget and can expect to get some exposure. And that's just one alternate platform to Steam which I can think of off the top of my head which isn't mentioned here.

    Anyway, addressing the points…

    Reason 1: Monopolies stifle distribution innovation

    There will NEVER be a monopoly on PC Gaming. Whether it be competition from fellow online distrubition methods, cross-publishing to Xbox Live Marketplace, the WiiWare, or the Playstation Store, publishing the game online and generating revenue based on advertisements or even flat out selling copies via a good ol' fashioned brick and mortar store, there are TOO MANY options for a developer for Steam to even attempt to tackle it.

    Oh, and funny story: I think Facebook, and Myspace pops up right alongside it. The number of employees each company employs backs up the comparison. Examples of monopolies should generally actually BE monopolies.

    Reason 2: Monopolies stifle creative innovation

    Again, it's hard to prove the monopoly in the first place, and games like World of Goo (or anything in the Humble Indie Bundle, really) show that there's certainly a lot of creative innovation.

    Reason 3: The little guys don’t get a look in

    Except that they always will. They might not all get exposure on Steam, sure, but there are dozens of viable options. Again, I'd point to companies like 2D Boy or other tiny studios as an example of how they always have and always will have options. Nothing in the Humble Indie Bundle required the bundle to actually be profitable, and yet the bundle raised over a million dollars.

    And as the success of the various console downloads show, there's a lot of room there for the little guy to publish their quirky game and achieve some moderate success.

    Reason 4: Steam has all the pricing power

    Except that this relies entirely on Steam becoming a monopoly for PC distribution and also requires the developers not to put the effort in to reach the obscenely large install bases on Wii, Xbox 360 or PS3, which means the company would be too dumb to survive in the first place.

    Reason 5: Valve doesn’t need to promote the platform

    This strikes me as particularly dumb. Valve does plenty to promote the platform and the platform does improve your gaming experience, depending on what you're looking for. Having a game on Steam has some advantages over regular download and play online sales or buying a game in a store. Valve works to make the platform beneficial to the user and provides services which have value for a certain section of the consumer base.

    *sigh*

    The thing with Steam right now is that it's working precisely because Valve is not taking advantage of the fact they've got something close to a monopoly. They let the little guys peddle their games, they don't take advantage of their monopoly to make life hard for the customer, and they have a wide selection of titles which make the distribution service one worth having an account for.

    Choking off the supply of games would kill the service, put bluntly. It's a shiney, happy soap bubble and the minute Valve tries to prod it, it'll burst. Either they'll keep it like it is and it'll slowly flourish, or it'll pop and become something for Valve games only.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt

    This article is full of LOL WTF

    1. steam has a lot of great features but it is also lacking in a lot of areas, like all the older games GOG has and also distributes a lot better than the older games on steam.

    2. What are your sources stating its 'getting harder and harder' to get on steam?

    Steam is NOT the only DD for PC games. Direct2drive,gamestop,amazon,GOG, stardock and others, I personally have games through D2D, GoG and gamestop. valve is NO WHERE CLOSE to being considered a monopoly. YOu keep using that word, I dont think it means what you think it means.

    Also, I seriously doubt Valve is going to let themselves lose revenue because a game is 'competing with halflife', especially considering the game came out over a decade ago.

    3. LOL WUT Have you even looked at all the indie games on steam? There are MANY games no one would know WTF about unless they were on steam…..LOL

    4. So instead of buying indie game X for $15, sell it for $20……what if a dog had a square asshole…..

    5. Steam doesnt improve computers as a gaming device, huh? So me not having to pop in a CD/DVD (if i can even find it) in order to install or play a game, see what my friends are playing and join in/invite them to games, automatic updates, all the steam sales……yeah none of that improve gaming on computers. at all. not one bit. Also, Steve Jobs would like to have a word with you…..

    Free MMOs a threat to steam…….LOLOLOLOL.

    Perhaps you should, I dont know, get a clue as to what the fuck you are ranting about.

  • Jon

    While all of these points are theoretically possible, they're actually almost the exact opposite of what Steam does in practice. Steam has tons of indies. Steam has plenty of games that compete in style and content to their own. Valve releases free tools to developers through steam to improve ease of creative innovation. Valve shows a strong and evident committment to improving the platform at no cost to the consumer. In my opinion the article lacks any practical relevance at all.

  • http://weefz.com Weefz

    Reason 2. I don't buy this. In my experience, it's not that Steam is preventing your game from selling through another medium. Indie PC games just don't sell that well. Steam lowers the barriers to market and helps developers reach a much larger audience than they would without. What distribution model is Steam edging out, exactly?

  • anon

    Reason 1: Traditional publishers already do this
    Reason 2: Traditional publishers already do this
    Reason 3: Traditional publishers already do this
    Reason 4: Traditional publishers already do this
    Reason 5: Likewise, traditional publishers don't need to do this

  • Deadman

    1. Reason 1: Monopolies stifle distribution innovation – It is a Digital Distribution. Really what is their to innovate? They add games all the time. Have sales etc. EVEN included Mac as a new platform.

    2. Reason 2: Monopolies stifle creative innovation – yes and no. Commercials DO the same thing. I don't see commercials for “X” game, but do for “Y” game.

    3. Reason 3: The little guys don’t get a look in – They sell indie games VIA steam. In fact it has it's own list. Killing Floor is an example of a non-huge one.

    Reason 4: Steam has all the pricing power – It can I suppose. Although they already filter what they want to sell vs what is sold. Not every indie game is close to being good.

    Reason 5: Valve doesn’t need to promote the platform – I have NO clue what you are going on about. They don't promote PC gaming? Steam IS PC ONLY. How is that NOT promoting it via steam. Remember they are not making **Hardware** or **Games** by Steam, thats through Valve.

    They aren't going to “go after” those F2P MMO's. They have no control. Actually most people in Runes of Magic WANT a boxed version of the game. Just giving diamonds to compensate for price, which can be all done through steam, their web site, or wall mart.

  • http://blog.david.bailey.net/ davidjwbailey

    insightful, and, for now, Valve are not being bad guys. they are marketing online, they do keep prices up, and they are paying people on time, in full and with 100% evidence of units delivered (and NO box-on-shelf publisher has EVER been 100% honest about units sold to developers before)

    critically – who will pay advances (or invest in development) if the distributor is Steam? do Steam pay advances? can anyone provide cases? …. mmmm see the problem here?

    however – OnLive (in which BT just took a stake) is a far bigger threat yet to fully emerge, so we need to get our developers aware of the issues asap

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