Valve steams into non-gaming software distribution biz

Valve steams into non-gaming software distribution biz

Summary: The games developer and cross-platform distribution firm is set to offer all kinds of software from early September, in a dramatic departure from its roots

TOPICS: Software

Valve, the games company that is behind the Steam download platform, is set to open the distribution system up to non-gaming software.

In a brief statement on Wednesday, Valve said it that "the first set of software titles [is] heading to Steam, marking a major expansion to the platform most commonly known as a leading destination for PC and Mac games".

"The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games," Valve business development representative Mark Richardson said in a statement. "They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests."

The non-gaming side of Steam will open for business on 5 September, Valve indicated, saying the titles would "range from creativity to productivity".

The company also noted that the titles would use Steamworks features with which gamers are already familiar, such as automatic updates and the ability to save data to a Steam Cloud space. Developers can submit titles through the Steam Greenlight system.

Valve has been increasingly singing the praises of its cross-platform approach of late. Company chief Gabe Newell hit the headlines a week ago when he said Windows 8 was shaping up to be a "catastrophe" for the PC ecosystem, and made it clear that Linux was an increasingly viable alternative, at least for Valve.

This week's developments confirm what seemed likely last month, when Valve put out a Steam app for Android that mysteriously included 'genre' categories that went somewhat beyond gaming, such as accounting, audio production, photo-editing and design.

Topic: Software

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • late...

    Way too late Steam, I said you should have done this years ago.
    • Ruined Gaming

      Steam ruined PC Gaming. Thanks so much =(
      Odin Aasgard
      • Yeah

        letting developers sell an exponentially higher number of games via steam really killed off gaming.
        • This

          It might not be the biggest friend of the large corporations of gaming (due to the cut Valve takes and the massive sales), but Indie gaming has shot off like a rocket. Getting your Indie game on steam is a surefire way to sell a bunch of copies.
          • And recently

            Valve has started to implement "crowdsourcing" where they let users vote for which games they want added to Steam, which bypasses the biggest barrier that indie game devs have: getting it admitted to the Steam store.
      • Its horrible!

        I get PC games cheaper than even renting them for the X360, they are always updated, no hassles in MP, and its as simple as "push button to get game" so how can we stand all this ease of use and cheap gaming?

        In case you haven't figured that out Odin, that was called sarcasm. I'll take Steam any day of the week over origin and the horrible DRM schemes that leave junk running on my PC 24/7 like SecuROM.
        PC builder
  • .

    They are just hoping people will pick the steam ecosystem over windows, which is lol worthy.
    • why pick one over the other?

      If you want to buy an app you check both places and buy where it costs less. why would i want to pick a side? stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid fanboyism.
    • lol worthy?

      What is lol worthy is that you seem to be out of touch with reality enough to think that developers and non-MS fanboys will really pick the Microsoft ecosystem over Valve's if they have to choose.

      No one, in their right mind, at equal price, will pick MS's app store over Valve's cross-platform store.
      Death to Stupid
  • I wonder if they are doing this in response

    to expected low sales of Linux based games?
    William Farrel
  • I've always liked valve

    Good games and steam is an decent service (I've had various technical problems with it and poor support but I'll let that fly). Their insults towards the windows store/windows 8 is sort of pathetic though. They should have seen a windows store coming years ago and had a strategy. Competing directly with windows store != good strategy.
    Lysle Shaw-McMinn
    • Legacy

      I am not sure if windows 8 store will have legacy apps (x86) available on it but I think so. Otherwise maybe they are hoping to be the hub for these apps the way windows store is hub for the newUI apps.
      Lysle Shaw-McMinn
      • Windows 8 store will very likely will not have legacy

        Windows 8 store will very likely will not have legacy - as I understand it, it's only for the new Metro style (or whatever the name is) apps.
  • About time, but may be too late.

    Well, it's about time they started aupporting apps. Always thought that regular apps should be available as well as games.

    Problem is, Windows 8 is on the horizon. This would have worked much better earlier rather than later. With Windows having an online store soon, it's really gonna be tough to take on Microsoft. Expecially since I doubt they will be allowing third party stores for Metro style apps.

    I dunno, it's getting to be too late. Windows 8, even if it's "another Vista," is gonna have a big impact on how people buy apps.
  • A cross-platform distribution system would be nice, ...

    ... but without actual cross-platform apps, I don't see the point.

    With games, the OS isn't very important. Games mostly just use the GPU, via an API like DirectX or OpenGL, so porting is relatively straightforward. Something like Steam can add value there, at least today. However, if all platforms have their own distribution systems -- iOS and Android already do, and Windows 8 will add it to Windows -- that may change, hence Valve's panicking.

    Most software isn't like games. Cross-platform apps would require a common app API, which Valve haven't got, and which would have to be a lowest common denominator API anyway -- like pure Java apps, which run on any Java system, but are invariably awful compared with apps written for a particular system.

    If you still need different apps on different platforms, what value does a common distribution system add, especially one that (presumably) won't even run on iOS? It doesn't seem to me that it adds much at all, especially if games start appearing on the standard ones (App Store, Google Play and, with Windows 8, the Windows Store and Xbox Live).
    • Not so straightforward . . .

      "Games mostly just use the GPU, via an API like DirectX or OpenGL, so porting is relatively straightforward."

      Eh, DirectX is Windows only, and hardware acceleration support on virtual machines tends to be buggy.

      Not so straightforward if the game is using DirectX.

      Also, there are some APIs for stuff like joysticks, gamepads, and sound which may have OS specific APIs. There's also some optimization tricks that may rely on direct access to hardware, which different OSes treat differently.

      Some games may use GDI, a Windows specific API, for drawing a 2D overlay.

      Games tend to do all kinds of stuff. It's not really safe to make assumptions.

      "what value does a common distribution system add, especially one that (presumably) won't even run on iOS?"

      Steam is actually available for iOS right now. It has chat, community, news, activity, and yes, the store.

      The store won't buy iOS apps due to iOS restrictions, but you can buy a PC or Mac game and play it when you get to your PC or Mac.
  • Free software!

    Steam games are the easiest to crack. A new dll file and an altered exe and bingo, free game. Now they are going to offer other software too? Hackers rejoice!