Steam is a digital distribution platform based entirely online. Developed by Valve software and released in September 2003 Steam provides millions of users around the world with a virtual store, social networking, automatic updates, cloud saving and a free VOIP service. While Steam was initially developed to provide updates to users who had purchased games developed by Valve, by 2005 other third-party games were being sold on Steam.
In 2012 the Steam Workshop and Steam Greenlight were released. The Steam Workshop allows users to create and share modified game content such as new maps or skins, while Steam Greenlight allows small game development companies to submit their game to be tested. If a game is well received on Steam Greenlight it will be added to the Steam store and sold.
Although Steam is a platform which is based entirely online it is comparable to other platforms such as Amazon an eBay.
|Creates and sells its own products?|
|Allows unregistered vendors?|
|Allows users to review products?|
|Platform for users to create content?|
Steam’s strength comes from its constant updates which are making it easier for users to create, share, buy and sell their custom content. Users can also rate and comment on all pre-existing content.
Steam has managed to encourage and thrive on both explicit and implicit user participation. The most obvious being the ability to create video games or modifications for existing products. Steam also allows users to rate any content which they have purchased or used and actively encourage this with Steam Greenlight. The users decide if the games which appear on Steam Greenlight are good enough to be sold on the Steam Store.
The passive participation comes from simply buying and playing games. Steam will recommend games based on your previous purchases and on the purchases of your friends. This data is a valuable marketing tool as it allows Steam to recommend games based on the user’s personal interest.
Steam currently dominates the online games market and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future. With constant additions to the platform like Workshop and Steam Greenlight which explicitly encourage and reward users for creating and testing content, Steam is likely to remain competitive for years to come.
Valve. (2015). The Steam Logo. Retrieved from http://gamingtrend.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Steam-Logo.jpg