Valve today announced that Steam is expanding to distribute more than just game titles come September. Software titles ranging from creativity to productivity will be added to the Steamworks platform starting September 5th. But the real question is, can a company that began its life as a game developer handle distributing spreadsheet software?
Though Valve has not specified which titles will be included in the launch in September, they have said that many will take advantage of popular Steamworks features, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and the ability to save work in a personal Steam Cloud space. Valve has also not detailed which platforms these titles will be available on. Currently, games on Steam are available for PC and Mac, but Valve is also working on Linux versions of Left 4 Dead 2 and Steam. So the possibility may exist that general purpose software titles may be available for all three operating systems.
Valve says that more software titles will be added in an ongoing fashion following the September 5th launch, and developers are welcome to submit more titles via the Steam Greenlight feature. However, they don’t say whether all titles are required to be submitted in this manner.
As to why Valve has chosen to take this path, Mark Richardson at Valve says, “The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games. They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests.”
Only time will tell whether Valve can actually fulfill those customer requests appropriately. One thing is certain…if you were thinking of gamifying your project management tool, what better way than to add a TF2 hat in there? All of the tools and features for doing so are ready to go.