Valve Releases Steamworks

I heard about Valve’s Steamworks through Indiegamer board and search some more information about this.

Personally, I’ve thought that Valve’s Steam is absolutely amazing system for game distribution. Now the announcement of Valve’s Steamworks can really become a massive hit in the area of game development.

I think something BIG is happening here. Right now.

Here’s the Steamworks in a nutshell (found via Bluesnews.):

  • A complete suite of publishing and development tools – ranging from copy protection to social networking services to server browsing – is now available free of charge to developers and publishers worldwide.
  • The same suite of tools used in best-selling PC titles Half-Life 2 and The Orange Box, is available for all PC games distributed via retail and leading online platforms such as Steam. The services included in Steamworks may be used a la carte or in any combination.
  • Real-time stats on sales, gameplay, and product activation: Know exactly how well your title is selling before the charts are released. Find out how much of your game is being played. Login into your Steamworks account pages and view up to the hour information regarding worldwide product activations and player data.
  • State of the art encryption system: Stop paying to have your game pirated before it’s released. Steamworks takes anti-piracy to a new level with strong encryption that keeps your game locked until the moment it is released.
  • Territory/version control: The key-based authentication provided in Steamworks also provides territory/version controls to help curb gray market importing and deliver territory-specific content to any given country or region.
  • Auto updating: Insures all customers are playing the latest and greatest version of your games.
  • Voice chat: Available for use both in and out of game.
  • Multiplayer matchmaking: Steamworks offers you all the multiplayer backend and matchmaking services that have been created to support Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, the most played action games in the world.
  • Social networking services: With support for achievements, leaderboards, and avatars, Steamworks allows you to give your gamers as many rewards as you would like, plus support for tracking the world’s best professional and amateur players of your game.
  • Development tools: Steamworks allows you to administer private betas which can be updated multiple times each day. Also includes data collection tools for QA, play testing, and usability studies.

And here’s what Gabe Newell, president of Valve, commented:

“Developers and publishers are spending more and more time and money cobbling together all the tools and backend systems needed to build and launch a successful title in today’s market. Steamworks puts all those tools and systems together in one free package, liberating publishers and developers to concentrate on the game instead of the plumbing.”

Jason Holtman, director business development at Valve, continues:

As more developers and publishers have embraced Steam as a leading digital distribution channel, we’ve heard a growing number of inquiries regarding the availability of the platform’s services and tools. Offering Steamworks is part of our ongoing efforts to support the needs of game developers and our publishing partners.”

Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC games (at least non-casual PC games, although there are indie & casual games in Steam) and digital content. There’s over 13 million active accounts (I’m one of them) and more than 250 games (I have one of these too), plus hundreds of movie files and game demos available, Steam has become a frequent destination for millions of gamers around the world.

Is it really free?
I emailed Jason (who might be a “bit busy” :) and asked about Steamworks. I wanted to know more how the system works and what is required from the developers. When I get some more answers and more information, I’ll pass them here.

There was some concern that the tools wouldn’t be 100% free… but we’ll wait and see.

Whatever happens… if you can buy some Valve’s stocks, now would be a good time to do so* :)

Game development in today’s world just started to look even better.

*By this sentence I didn’t mean to give financial stock advice and don’t claim that I would know what will happen. The purpose of this sentence was to show that I think Valve is doing something big here – something that can give more developers the chance to get their games finished and to the market.

Juuso Hietalahti

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