Not quite content with occupying the lion’s share of the digital distribution games market, Valve’s digital delivery service, Steam is now set to expand into non-gaming titles. Making the announcement as a press release, Valve mentions that the first set of software titles are heading to the Steam store for both Mac and PC.
Valve mentions that applications ranging from creativity to productivity will available on Steam. The first set of software titles are set to hit the store from September 5th. What’s even more exciting is that SteamWorks — which allows for Cloud storage on Steam Cloud and auto-updates — will be available to software titles as well.
Will it work?
Steam did experiment with non-gaming media for digital distribution — particularly when Indie Game: The Movie was released on Steam store, which didn’t do too bad. There are still couple of points that might stick out about software coming to the Steam store:
- Cross-platform licensing: Steam for Ubuntu is coming soon, Steam for Mac is already here. SteamPlay allows for a game license to be used across multiple devices and multiple platforms. Software title developers, however, are quite insistent about single-use-only licensing. We’ll have to wait and watch to see how many developers will be going ahead with single-license-multiple-platform approach.
- Steam’s DRM: The popular opinion about DRM in Steam is that it’s DRM done well. Now I don’t agree that it’s done well — though it’s not that bad either. Steam games require that you stay online when you launch the titles. If you plan to play offline then there’s a “Go offline” option that must be explicitly used before you go offline — without doing this, the probability that you’ll be able to launch a title is less than 1%. These restrictions are unlikely to go well when we’re talking about productivity applications.
- Going against existing, preloaded marketplace: Windows, OS X, Ubuntu — all feature their own built-in Stores. Windows 8’s Windows store features prominently as a Tile on the Start Screen, the Mac App Store has gained some traction amongst OS X users and with Ubuntu, you’re guaranteed to take a look at the software centre at least once a day. Will these be enough to deter the casual users from loading Steam?