After writing this text I realized that this almost became a (non-paid) shameless about Steam & Valve ad, but I think they are doing such an awesome job on so different level that you can’t but admire them – and write about them. There’s plenty of things that developers & publishers could learn.
Valve does good stuff
Not necessarily easy thing to model, but worth remembering: Valve keeps creating & publishing good games. It’s something we all should strive to do – create good content for our players.
Steam is awesome for players
Besides making good games, Valve has created an awesome system that is really a one place that offers everything that players need. Their Steam system offers a variety of different ways how players can benefit from their service:
- Store – the Steam store offers new (and old) games from variety of publishers. There’s casual, indie, AAA and other titles available. There’s demos, videos, screenshots, review ratings and so on. You can buy things with just a few mouse clicks. Steam is nowadays pretty much the only place I buy games.
- Steam community: players can create their own groups (like Dead Wake Steam group here) and interact with other players. The in-game chat system works even for non-steam games (Yeh, I realized that I can use Steam’s chat system even when I’m playing my Dead Wake zombie game)
- Easy DRM: When I got my new computer and had to re-install Steam, I had no problems in getting the games I had bought. I simply went to my control panel’s “games” section and clicked “download”. Steam started downloading me the game I had bought earlier. No stupid DRM stuff that would have made this difficult, just click & go.
I think Steam (and Valve) offer many, many things that are worth learning from: they make products worth using, and make sure users have no trouble buying the products.
So, what could they do better?
Of course there’s always room for improvements.
On marketing side, I must say that I’m bit amazed that Valve isn’t offering affiliate/partner programs for those who want to advertise & sell their games. They are spending huge amount of money to promote their newest games (at the time of writing you can see Left 4 Dead game ads plastered all over the Internet), but they aren’t considering rewarding players for promoting their products?
If Steam could introduce affiliate system (paying royalties like Big Fish Games ) I think they could leverage their current system. It would provide a solid way for marketers (and players) to generate income. Players could then perhaps use these credits to get more games from Steam…