Open The Floodgates: Steam To Sell Non-Gaming Software

I think there’s an old adage that goes something like “You can’t spell ‘Valve’ without ‘Impending domination of all aspects of human society.'” To be honest, I never really understood it before today (I can be a bit thick sometimes, you know), but it’s starting to make some┬ásemblance of sense. After a sterling few months in which Linux support, Steam Greenlight, Source Filmmaker, Teaching With Portals, and Valve’s very own economist all debuted, the all-consuming PC behemoth is now embarking on a journey into the mysterious realm of non-gaming software.

The first titles will begin trickling in on September 5. Here’s the official word, written in the English language – which Valve will probably soon own, because why not:

“The Software titles coming to Steam range from creativity to productivity. Many of the launch titles will take advantage of popular Steamworks features, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and the ability to save your work to your personal Steam Cloud space so your files may travel with you.”

“More Software titles will be added in an ongoing fashion following the September 5th launch, and developers will be welcome to submit Software titles via Steam Greenlight.”

For now, Valve’s staying mum on specific pieces of software, but I’ve sent out an email asking for more details. If anything new comes up, you’ll be the first to know, RPS readers – but only because you’ve been so good today. And forever.

And much as Steam’s continued expansion without a single credible competitor (especially now that it’s attempting to take class-actions off the table) gives me a slight case of the economic willies, I have to say this sounds completely brilliant. It puts everything in one place, and Steam’s convenience features are icing on an already tantalizing cake.

It’s also interesting in the wake of Gabe Newell’s declaration that Windows 8 will be a “catastrophe,” seeing as much of its closed nature stems from a proprietary App Store. Steam’s non-gaming software, meanwhile, could essentially function as a slightly more open variation on that theme – although it remains to be seen exactly how it’ll all work. Steam’s not entirely open either, admittedly, but this is still a step in the right direction, I think.


  1. Kageru says:

    Sounds like a great idea. If they can separate the idea of an online app-store from being proprietary and platform specific creation they can weaken that trend and make some money. Just as having a steam for mac has made game publishers more likely to look at that market or consider cross platform games, and linux may do the same.

    Having cool apps that are common between linux, windows, android, IOS and mac has the capacity to create a rich eco-system that is not owned by a single vendor.

    Steam CANNOT monopolize the game space because they are just a retail channel. Don’t own the underlying platform like microsoft and don’t own the product like EA selling through Origin. If someone else wants to compete with them on having a cross platform apps store they can, but I’m not seeing anyone else even thinking about the long-game like Valve does.

  2. malkav11 says:

    On the one hand, cool I suppose. On the other hand, I’m kind of trained not to pay for nongaming software. I don’t need that much in the way of utility type programs and in virtually any category of them there is a high quality free, or even open source, option. Perhaps if Steam sold Windows? Wouldn’t that be….perplexing.

  3. BurningPet says:

    The funny thing, when a big corp turns greedy and start neglecting its original user base, some say they are not evil because its due to the share holders need of seeing growth.

    well, valve has none so basically its just pure central greed.

  4. wintermute says:

    So an app store then?

    Thank god it’s Valve, because now we can pat each other’s backs and say how great this is.

    What’s that you say? “Walled garden”? No, no, no silly, that’s all those other evil companies.

    • drewski says:

      There’s nothing inherently wrong with walled gardens as long as you adjust your expectations accordingly. If you feel a walled garden negatively affects the value you will get from a purchase, lower the price you will pay for it.

    • Llewyn says:

      Silly indeed, since there are no similarities whatsoever.

      Hint: Nothing Valve might do can restrict access to real platforms for either consumers or publishers.

  5. Flukie says:

    I love Valve, but their comments on Win 8 and Microsoft are really just fluff when they do exactly the same thing MS do, except they don’t have an OS to do it with.

    Hell people are asking them specifically to do the same thing MS are doing with Win 8 with a OS of their own.

  6. Juxtapox says:

    No, I wouldn’t. I’m stupid enough to have most of my games on Steam.
    What I tend to forget on purpose is that you only rent these games. They’re not mine and if Steam goos BOOM, so does my games. Do I really want that with my software too?

    I love Valve and I love Steam but I don’t like this because of that.

    • drewski says:

      I’d pay $8 or so for a rental of a game from the store, so paying $5-20 for an essentially unlimited time rental from a company I know isn’t going anywhere any time soon isn’t exactly a hardship.

      • TheApologist says:

        This. I’ve never understood why people turn renting vs ownership into a matter of principle. It isn’t. It’s a pragmatic judgement of the value of the rental service being offered. I rent Steam games. I also pay less for them because renting it worth a bit less than having a disc which is more like ownership.

        But it’s also true that DVDs, CDs, and software made for older OS’s have a shelf life based on the technology required to use them. So loss of value involved in renting tends, in my view, to be overstated.

  7. drewski says:

    The content singularity is coming, people. When Valve integrate Wikipedia and buyout Spotify, we’ll only need them to hoover up Netflix and bam.

  8. nutterguy says:

    I have no idea how RPS can seem so please about this but so against the Windows 8 store. It makes no sense at all.

    Also it now becomes totally clear why Mr. Newell came out against the Windows 8 store, because it will be his DIRECT competition….

    Also please explain how the Windows 8 store is closed? Because that is just bullshit…

  9. mashakos says:

    I was really hoping for this till a couple of months ago. A week after I purchased Indie Game: The movie, I decided to watch it on my laptop while on a business trip.
    That’s when things went downhill very quickly:
    logging in to steam on my laptop stopped the 8 game downloads I had running on my HTPC. If I had not checked, the HTPC would have been running 2 days straight for no reason..
    thought of a workaround: why not keep steam offline on the laptop! Not as simple as it sounds… 20 minutes later I had steam with the movie installed and in offline mode. Great! Well, not really…

    Here’s where I gave up on the idea: running Steam and the movie on my Macbook Pro – which can play DVDs back to back on a single charge – burned through the battery in 30 minutes.

    Unless something is done about these problems, no way am I buying anything other than games on Steam.