Digital Distribution is Growing

Earlier I wrote about the importance of doing DRM right in digital distribution. Today a BBC news item caught my eye: Valve’s Steam has grown to over 13 million active accounts. What’s Interesting: originally Steam was developed to update automatically Valve’s multiplayer games, but now has evolved into a used by many publishers and developers. It’s nice to see casual games such as Zuma sold next to Half Life 2.

Valve’s Steam seems like a good system, and with millions of users, it seems to be a good distribution channel for games. Growth of high-speed Internet connections are essential for the growth of online distribution, but I believe the digital rights management will go hand-to-hand with that. Some people I’ve talked with have mentioned that “Steam had problems” while others have praised their system easy and efficient for players.

Digital distribution of video games is growing. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have all started online services for downloading games onto consoles. Besides companies that distribute games, the company who comes up with the silver bullet to the problems of DRM will get rich.

Meanwhile, it’s nice to get more alternatives for distributing games. We all benefit from it.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Zeha: Check out the games section, there are indie games there…

    baz and funvideos: these are the exact concerns that should be handled properly. Don’t know if Valve will see these issues, but anyone willing to win the distribution competition must take care of them. It’s the customers who will decide where they buy games, and if their “risks” aren’t noticed, they will go somewhere else.

  2. But is it possible for the lone and unknown indie-developer to get his game up to Steam? Or are they very picky with their choice?

    I haven’t used Steam so far, so I don’t really know anything about it…

  3. As pointed out elsewhere, the stats for Steam users are kinda skewed cos that was the only way to get HL2 to work. And, HL2 was so damn hot that I and many others wouldve gone through any crazy DRM/mechanism to get it.

    As previous poster said, I am also uncomfortable with the idea that my games can go AWOL because of some server screw up, or my account being invalid somehow. Perhaps after a PC upgrade I will need to beg to get my games back.
    Pretty much kills the 2nd hand market too.

    And, what if every company made their own Steam system, it would be a mess. Who knows, maybe that XBLA thing will reach PCs. So, on the one hand I hate it, but on the other hand I can see that it surely reduced piracy and gives the devs the $$$ the deserve. But I still hate it.

  4. I used to hate Steam when it was very buggy (they still have some problems), but it’s getting better and I’m kinda enjoying it.

    Only one concern that is growing up – if your account stolen or banned, you lose ALL the games you own, and it’s really upsetting…

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