Steam accounts now over 65 million

The popular digital distribution platform has seen 30 percent growth in the last 12 months.

Valve has just announced that its Steam platform has grown another 30 percent in the trailing 12-month period, bringing its user-base to more than 65 million accounts. Now in its tenth year, the digital distribution service offers more than 3,000 games, and Valve continues to expand the feature set for the service as it takes Steam to the living room.

Valve plans to introduce the recently announced Steam Machines with a variety of hardware partners later in the year. Combined with SteamOS and the unique Steam Controller, which features touch pads and no analog sticks, Valve is hoping to further disrupt the marketplace.

“The main goal of Steam has always been to increase the quality of the user’s experience by reducing the distance between content creators and their audience,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “As the platform grows, our job is to adapt to the changing needs of both the development and user communities. In the coming year, we plan to make perhaps our most significant collaborations with both communities through the Steam Dev Days and the Steam Machines beta.”



The War Z pulled from Steam

The controversial title can no longer be purchased on Valve’s store

The War Z pulled from Steam

Hammerpoint Interactive’s zombie-centric The War Z has been pulled from Valve’s Steam store. The game still retains a page in Steam’s catalog, but there is no longer a way to purchase the title.

The War Z was launched on Monday, but received significant backlash from purchasers who accused the game of promising certain features and then not delivering. The game’s original Steam profile mentioned two gameplay modes, selectable skills, multiple worlds between 100 to 400 square kilometers, and the ability to run private servers. Instead, the game only has one gameplay mode, no skills, a single map of around 72 square km, and no option for private servers.

“From time to time a mistake can be made and one was made by prematurely issuing a copy of War Z for sale via Steam. We apologize for this and have temporary removed the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build. Those who purchase the game and wish to continue playing it via Steam may do so. Those who purchased the title via Steam and are unhappy with what they received may seek a refund by creating a ticket at our support site here,” said Valve in a statement.

featuresThe original feature list (Via GameSpy)

The War Z executive producer Sergey Titov took to the game’s official forums to explain the developer’s side of the situation.

“It was clear that there were a number of customers that felt that information about the game was presented in a way that could have allowed for multiple interpretations,” wrote Titov.

“We’ve taken steps to correct this and format information presented on our Steam Store page in a way so it provides more clear information about game features that are present in the Foundation Release and what to expect in the coming weeks. We also want to extend our apologies to all players who misread information about game features.”

In an interview with GameSpy, Titov also explained that those missing features were planned for 2012-2013 content updates. He stood by his forum statement: certain purchasers misread the game’s features and this embellished their expectations.

“Our Steam store description contained information about what game features [were] planned for 2012-early 2013 content updates,” Titov told GameSpy. “Online games are [a] living breathing game service. This is not a boxed product that you buy one time. It’s evolving product that will have more and more features and content coming it. This is what The War Z is.”

“I’m sure there’ll be people who will look into small details and will say ‘no I was mislead,’ where in fact they imagined something to themselves without checking details first.”

There’s been no word on when The War Z will return to Steam.

Valve: Biggest threat to the next generation?

Chris Morris argues that a Steam Box could make life difficult for Microsoft and Sony in the next couple years

Valve: Biggest threat to the next generation?

With Nintendo having launched its next generation system and Microsoft and Sony waiting in the wings, plenty of analysts, observers and thumb-suckers are rubbing their worry beads about the impact of mobile and tablet gaming.

The PC is mentioned in passing, though few believe it will be a viable threat, due to the challenges that come with different hardware specifications. They also note that things like driver updates and the perception of more frequent component updates can be intimidating for the mass audience. But if the recent whispers of Valve’s plans to launch a game hardware system prove true, that could upend the playing field.

Steam has always been a spoiler for the game industry’s status quo. No one knows exactly how successful it is, thanks to Valve’s airtight secrecy on sales numbers – but we know it’s huge. And the company has always stayed out of the blood match for the living room.

According to an interview with Kotaku, Valve’s about to get in the game, though – and that could have a major ripple effect on the next generation. Here are five ways a “Steam Box” could make things difficult for the next Xbox and PlayStation.

Fracturing the core

While Microsoft and Sony have learned the importance of catering to the mainstream audience, it’s the core gamer who’s still their bread and butter. Those are the players who regularly buy new titles. And more importantly, they’re influencers whose opinions can help drive sales.

Historically, they’ve assigned their loyalty to a primary system, which has led to much of the Sony vs. Microsoft sniping that’s so common in forums. But a large percentage of the core audience is unified in its love of PC gaming.

steam tv

A Steam Box won’t stop the core from buying an Xbox or PlayStation, but it could easily distract them away from those systems. And the entry of a third high-definition, AAA system (fourth, if you count Nintendo as part of this fight – though that company tends to exist in its own space), could further split the core gaming community – possibly severely impacting the revenue streams of Sony and Microsoft.

Day one PC releases

While AAA games still make it to PC these days, there’s very often a delay. Piracy fears and a focus on the larger console audience make this somewhat understandable.

Should the Steam Box gather a notable installed base, however, that could cause publishers to rethink that strategy, to the delight of PC players. You still aren’t likely to see console flagships like Halo, Uncharted or Gears of War on the PC in the near term, but you may not have to wait for things like Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed.

Pricing shake up

“A Steam Box could hurt the retailer even more than competing console systems, since Valve is one of the biggest proponents of digital downloads in the industry”


Console game prices follow a pretty standard formula. During the first week or two of a release window, they’re $60 – with retail discounts typically rare in that period. After that, the sales start – and generally it’s gone from shelves within six months or so, unless it manages to become a breakthrough hit.

Steam has shown there’s plenty of value in back catalog games. And it has been equally efficient at shaking up traditional pricing models, with its quarterly sales and surprise deep discounts. Publishers are already comfortable with the way things sell on Steam and know the benefits of those sorts of discounts – and there’s no reason to think they’d become gun-shy about them now.

If a larger set of players gets used to them, that’s going to put pressure on traditional retail stores to lower or be more flexible with their own pricing models.

DRM headaches

A Steam Box won’t be quite the nirvana some gamers are dreaming of, however. The threat of piracy still looms – and publishers are going to be especially wary of it.

Ubisoft’s DRM woes of earlier this year demonstrate that publishers still aren’t exactly sure how to address the issue. And while the French company dropped its first stab at protecting itself, it’s certain to come up with an alternative, as is every other publisher.

For most people, this won’t be a major issue, but for some it could be a nightmare that could make consoles appealing again.

GameStop headaches

The console ecosystem extends far beyond Microsoft and Sony. GameStop might cause some grumbling among players, but it’s a huge part of the system. A Steam Box could hurt the retailer even more than competing console systems, since Valve is one of the biggest proponents of digital downloads in the industry.

GameStop has plans in place already to sell things like Steam gift cards, but it’s also planning its own digital distribution service to compete against Steam. If Valve has a foothold in the living room in addition to its domination of the field on the PC, that’s going to force GameStop to get even more creative to remain relevant in the game industry of tomorrow.


Steam still at 50 million users, 500,000 use Big Picture


Valve’s digital platform continues to grow

At the London Games Conference 2012, Sega vice president of digital distribution John Clark reiterated Steam’s 50 million user milestone, with 5 million users playing concurrently. Valve announced that it had 50 million users in a video released during the launch of Big Picture mode. Clark added that the beta for Big Picture mode has 500,000 subscribers.

Clark also revealed that Steam Workshop has over 300,000 items and 106 million community contributions.

Electronic Arts announced that its competing service, Origin, had 30 million usersduring an investors call at the end of last month.

[Via PCGamesN]