Valve's Steamworks SDK is now available.
This gives developers access to all the gubbins that goes on in Steam, for free, to enormously aid development. Valve explain the features it offers:
"These include product key authentication, copy protection, auto-updating, social networking, matchmaking, anti-cheat technology, and more. The features and services available in Steamworks are offered free of charge and may be used for both electronic and tangible versions of games."
Of course it also means that Valve get more games on Steam, and greater ubiquity, and will eventually take over the universe. Them or Google. And we, their willing subjects, seem pretty fine with this. I mean, once we thought it would be Microsoft. Brrrrr.
Obligatory quote from the press release, from Jason Holtman, Valve's director of business development:
"In working with developers on the pre-release SDK, our focus has been on making it as easy as possible for them to integrate Steamworks into their games. They get access to these tools and services in a proven, scalable, and simple to work with package that has already been deployed to millions of gamers worldwide."