Frank`s Thoughts Episode 8: Valve has an approved semi-monopoly?
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Frank`s Thoughts. This time it´s about a quite odd situation. A monopoly is generally seen as a bad thing. That is kinda what Valve has with Steam. They have the majority of the PC/Mac gaming download market. Around 70-80%, and it`s acceptable? Let´s look deeper into this.
Hope you enjoy this blog, feel free to leave a comment and all that stuff.
Info on Steam
Steam for those of you who don`t know is an online service that mainly provides access to a large number of games and now other types of software. Steam is a cloud based service, making it so that if you buy a game on Steam or activate a code from a physical copy to the platform you can play it wherever you go were you van access a computer.
The saves on most games however are on your computer, but games like Team Fortress 2 also have cloud saving.
You must however have a internet connection to launch steam, but you can set certain games to offline mode so that you can play single player games without always online DRM (one that actually works really well at least).
Ever since 2003 Steam has been available to the public and over the years has grown to become the biggest digital game service of all time, controlling over 70% of the market. Steam is run by Valve, one of the most respected companies in the industry.
They have created titles such as Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike, Half Life, and Portal. They encourage user created content and mods, giving a great sense of freedom to the players using things such as Gmod and Source Filmmaker to spread the IPs around with other way of entertainment. Hell TF2 is driven mostly by the community and Valve knows this.
Let´s continue with the community aspect
Through the use of Steam Greenlight, the community can vote for what games can come to the platform. This however can backfire as games similar to other can be dismissed as "clones". I think that this concept needs a bit more polish but there have been some cool games that has come out from it.
With the Steam workshop, players can create and vote for new items to TF2 and the creators get a bit of the money if Valve picks it up (as TF2 didn´t already have enough hats hehe).
The Steam sales are awesome, having great deals on games and DLC for us to enjoy. You can even vote for which deals you wanna see. Again this can backfire as certain games just keeps on getting voted on while others get ignored....
The meat and potato
So Steam is a great service that provides great games and community interactions and a safe place for gamers to go to ( hacked once but was taken care of quickly). But heres the thing,,,,
Valve has a monopoly over the digital gaming market both on PC and on Mac. A monopoly is never a good thing.
We need competition so that we as consumers can get to chose more and the companies will have to become even better at providing the service. McDonalds has Burger King, Apple has Samsung etc.
Steam has Origin? I´m sorry but that platform isn´t really taking off, as not many games are on it, and EA has a more how should I say it "watching look" on their consumers. The next thing would be Green Man Gaming that is slowly growing but hasn´t become as big of a competitor as needed.
A lot of the games also has Steam keys support so it kinda backfires. Don´t get me wrong It´s awesome that you can buy something on on site and then play it on another service but I have a weird feeling that it will hurt those 'other' sites.
I love Valve but if we look at a similar situation, then Nintendo is a good example. They had monopoly over the home console market for a long time and having the third party developers in the palm of their hands. Then Sega came back with the Genesis/Megadrive and we got some amazing games from that competition.
Now we're lucky Valve is the company they are. Theres a reason why the have such an amazing reputation both from their games and company practices. Maybe we don´t need a Sega here... But I don't think it would hurt if we got at least one service that could really rival with them. The Steam Box will see them going in the console race, so maybe through that we could get some competition.
Or I´m an idiot.