Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gabe Newell gets Steam-y

  After engaging in a overtly nerd-tastic discussion with my brother about our favorite video game, Portal, I decided to read up on Valve, the company that made it possible for millions of people to play relatively unheard of games. Gabe Newell, a former Microsoft employee and Harvard dropout, founded valve in 1996. In 1998, they released Half Life (another seriously awesome game).

But Newell couldn’t find a publisher who would produce the games his company made. So Newell took matters into his own hands and created the Steam program, a revolutionary idea for video game distribution. It’s an online purchase engine…think iTunes, but for video games.

Here’s where it gets really awesome: Not only does Steam run as a purchase engine, it allows users to download modifications for games made by the gaming community to fix glitches in the original gaming software. Valve also releases patches, fixes, and updates too. And the best part? It acts as a free online multiplayer service. Yes, free.

Gabe Newell’s idea for Valve completely changed the way that game companies do business, too. Because they promote unauthorized modification of their games, Valve allowed big-name games like Counterstrike to exist. So more sales happen for the games Steam modifies.

However, Steam isn’t perfect. For example, if you purchase a game in one part of the country, and go on vacation and try to play it somewhere else, it may become unplayable. The same movement issues occur with prices, too. When you buy a particular game from a store, you pay for the packaging, shipping, etc. in the price. While you might think that you would lose these costs when purchasing the game and downloading it electronically, Steam changes prices based on the location of the person downloading it.

Here’s the link to the Steam website: http://store.steampowered.com/


  1. The idea of using Steam as a video game distribution medium is one of the most creative developments in the industry since 3D graphics. What I love most about Steam is that it provides an easy to use interface that gives the user what he/she wants. There's no confusion and Steam is simply a brilliant method to sell video games easily, cheaply, and effectively. I think Gabe's philosophy on pirating of illegal software speaks to his business model as well: "We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem." The good thing about Steam is that it provides that excellent service through its distribution medium. Not only does it deter piracy in a market where that problem affects sales, but it does so in an innovative way that was never seen before and has yet to be truly emulated by other business modals. Also, the nature of Steam makes it clear that Gabe Newell is a creative individual. The amount of features that make up Steam demonstrate his ability to store ideas and combine them from different elements to create a final product that is something new and amazing.

  2. Steam has completely changed how I play games. I used to only play on consoles, then four or five years ago I made a switch to PC gaming. Part of the switch was due to pricing. For a console game, it would run me anywhere from 10-50 dollars for a game (depending on used or new). So, I would only get games on holidays so I wouldn't have to pay for them. Once I switched to PC gaming, things got significantly cheaper. Steam is a major part of this. I have bought both games from stores and on steam for my computer, and steam is always the cheaper option.
    I will be truthful, when I can, I do cut corners on my spending. It's simply too easy to not pirate games and my conscious has yet to stop me from doing so. Honestly, without steam the majority of my games would be pirated. Steam has such amazing sales that sometimes I can't resist. Steam also allows for an easy way to keep in touch with people while gaming and a great interface to buy, manage, and play games on.
    I never thought that steam would be considered creative, but I can absolutely see your logic. It is a wonderful tool for all computer gamers.


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