Why aren't other developers following Valve's Steam model?
November 10, 2004 7:46 AM   Subscribe

If Valve's Steam means that games developers can do away with publisher, distributor and retailer overheads... um... why isn't everyone doing it, or similar things?
posted by Pretty_Generic to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Because Valve's Steam doesn't mean that game developers can do away with.... Retail sales channels still represent a vast majority of game sales because that's where the customers are.

Not to mention that a majority of games developers aren't targeting platforms that could support direct online distribution. Most games sold today are console games. PC game developers could conceivably move more towards online direct distribution if they were willing to sacrifice the huge chunk of their sales that retail represents, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of games sold wind up wrapped and put under a tree. You can't do that with a download.

Not to mention, last I heard, Steam still didn't work. Have they fixed that yet?
posted by majick at 7:58 AM on November 10, 2004

According to this CNET article, the bugs have been worked out; enough of the bugs, at least, to distribute Half-Life2.
posted by bachelor#3 at 8:47 AM on November 10, 2004

I have Steam, it works.

I think this is the wave of the future. But right now it would be impossible (or uneconomical) to do this with, say, Sims2. Sims2 is a single-player game for casual gamers and thus no broadband connection can be assumed. HalfLife2 caters to a geekier crowd who are more likely to have broadband.
posted by falconred at 9:43 AM on November 10, 2004

On the other hand players of the Sims games can download tons of content for the games, not to mention patches. I presume this is true of Sims2 as well, or soon will be. More and more software is shipped with self-update functionality. Heck, I just insalled Half-Life 1 on my new computer and it shipped with an updater. It's certainly nice to have the game on physical media, but I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more distrubition by download for all kinds of content.
posted by Songdog at 9:50 AM on November 10, 2004

There's Live for Speed, a racing sim developed by a team of three people. It absolutely rocks, if you're into simulation rather than arcade racing. They only sell through their internet site and are actually selling the unfinished release (S1) to finance the development of the new version (S2). NB: this first release is already fully functioning, yet lacks the flashy marketing makeover. I don't care about that anyway, especially since the game is only 14 UK pounds. They have a stable and devoted following and a strong online (racing) community.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 10:09 AM on November 10, 2004

Steam is a piece of shit. I couldn't play LAN games of Natural Selection (a Half Life mod) the other day, because Steam claimed that offline mode wasn't supported. And what happens if you buy Half Life 2 off Steam, and then 10 years down the line, find that you can no longer play it, cos Valve have gone bust? Not to mention the clunky interface, random crashes...Steam is bad.
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:31 PM on November 10, 2004

hell, ten years down the road you probably won't be able to play it because your gear will no longer have legacy DirectX 9.0 or openGL support.

I like steam just fine. I bought the retail release of CS way back when, and when steam came out I registered so I could get CS 1.6. I never reinstalled Steam on my new rig until recently (so I could preload HL2) and when I did, Steam ponied up all the HL based games for download right away, including the original HL, which I never even purchased. And I never had to look up my old CD key or even have my game CD handy.
posted by Hackworth at 1:03 PM on November 10, 2004

I can still play Doom, which was released 11 years ago...I don't see why I won't play Half Life 2 in 10 years.
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2004

Most developers are dependant upon publishers to fund pretty much the entire life cycle of a games development. Until it is in the interest of the publisher to distribute games online, or until the majority of games studios work out an alternative funding model, Steam will remain the exception rather than the rule. And thats not even taking into account the massive influence that distributers like EB have in the industry.

Valve has a lot of clout, and as far as I know they fund a lot of the development costs themselves, but even they had a lot of trouble convincing Vivendi to allow people to download Halflife 2 (witness the recent court case, etc). Steam has also been effectively hamstrung: you can download all the content sure, but you are not going to be able to play the game until it hits the stores, no matter how you purchase it.

And no, I'm not bitter about the industry at all.
posted by arha at 3:12 PM on November 10, 2004

Response by poster: Orange Goblin, you can back up Steam files now.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:39 PM on November 10, 2004

Ah, seems like BioWare is getting in on the act.
posted by arha at 3:45 PM on November 10, 2004

FYI -- Even if you buy Half Life 2 at retail, you won't be able to play without registering with Valve, even for single player.
posted by NortonDC at 3:59 PM on November 10, 2004

PG: doesn't mean I can play without Steam though...
posted by Orange Goblin at 4:46 AM on November 11, 2004

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