Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
chaotic open platform devices. AppBrain serves a similar function, allowing
users to search for Android applications by using a variety of different, and per-
haps tighter, criteria. Many of the games for this platform have started adopting
variants on the freemium business models we've discussed for social games, out
of an effort to beat the piracy which runs rampant on the Android platform. 1
A similar “digital-retail” model exists and thrives for games played on the PC
and Mac. Valve Software's Steam is both a storefront and a miniature social
network. Designed by the company that created the seminal PC hits Half-Life ,
Half-Life 2 , and Team Fortress , Steam offers a wide array of marketplace and
social features. Initially, Steam was created to allow Valve to address technical
and logistic problems associated with patching their mega-hit Counter-Strike ,
but it quickly evolved into a standard digital storefront for PC gaming. Users
can download game demos, review screenshots, see video trailers, purchase full
games, buy add-on content for games, join groups of like-minded gamers, send
messages to other Steam players, and so on.
Steam also features a collection of social elements. Gamers can browse
games by popularity, chat with like-minded gamers, and see what their friends
are playing, all of which serve together as a type of recommendation engine,
providing Steam with some level of virality. Gamers are also able to purchase
and gift games to their friends on Steam, as well as form social groups and
“clubs” accessible through the platform.
Steam processes payments tendered from customers, and in return takes a
portion of the proceeds. (Valve is notoriously tight-lipped about the specifics of
the income they take in from this platform.) Users are restricted to purchasing
and playing games in their own country of residence, and prices vary by coun-
try. Game purchases are supported in U.S. dollars, the euro, pounds sterling, and
WebMoney online currency. Steam handles the patching updates for its games
and facilitates user access to their purchases on multiple client machines. (For
instance, a player can make one purchase, then play the game both at home and
at the office.) The overall quality of the games offered on Steam is very high, with
many mainstream retail releases also opting to appear on the platform. Among
the hundreds of developers who support the platform are the largest and most
well-known publishers in the industry, such as Activision, Electronic Arts,
Bethesda, and 2K. Moreover, Steam has demanded a high level of quality from
their offerings, which makes their marketplace far less of a free-for-all. With
only about 1300 games available at the time of this writing, Steam has a much
more manageable noise-to-signal ratio than, for instance, iTunes. The platform
makes it easy to find games, which makes it easier to sell your game on Steam.
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