Valve, the company behind Steam, is celebrating the platform’s 20th anniversary in style. To mark this special occasion, they’ve put all their games on sale, and they’ve taken us on a trip down memory lane. However, one interesting aspect is that Steam wasn’t always the beloved platform it is today (September 13).
Picture this: September 12th, 2003. Steam was born, and many PC gamers were not happy. They felt like Valve was trying to take away their multiplayer server browsers and their beloved DVDs. The situation worsened in 2004 when Half-Life 2 required Steam to play, even if you had a physical disc. Steam seemed like just another form of annoying DRM.
Naturally, game publishers questioned why they should pay Valve when they could create their own digital distribution platforms, like EA’s Origin or Ubisoft’s UPlay. It was a legitimate concern. But then, Half-Life 2 and its mods took the gaming world by storm. PC gamers couldn’t resist, and Valve struck deals with publisher after publisher, turning Steam into the go-to platform for PC gaming.
Do you know that with the introduction of the Apple Watch Ultra 2, Apple has taken another significant step forward in the ever-changing world of technology? This innovative smartwatch was released alongside the highly anticipated iPhone 15 array on September 12, 2023:
Fast forward twenty years, and even giants like EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony, and Square Enix have joined the Steam party. Blizzard, a long-standing holdout, finally decided to put its games on Steam this year. Meanwhile, Epic Games gave away millions of dollars in free games to promote its Epic Games Store but still struggles to compete with Steam’s dominance.
Today, Valve claims that Steam’s “ultimate goal” was to provide game developers a direct path to reach their players and build their audience. While it may not have felt that way initially, Steam has evolved into a massive platform for indie game discovery.
The pandemic gave Steam a boost, with player numbers skyrocketing. Even in January, a whopping 10 million players were logged in simultaneously. The introduction of the Steam Deck, a gaming handheld, not only provided a new way to play but also revitalized Steam’s user interface.
Today, we no longer hear complaints about Steam being DRM. It’s simply a convenient place to buy and enjoy games, with constant sales and new features like a cloud notepad or in-home streaming added every so often. Steam has become the go-to place for PC gamers, even if we didn’t plan it that way.
It would be fascinating if Valve decided to delve deeper into its history and create an interactive museum, similar to Sony’s Astro’s Playroom for the PS5. And as a side thought, what’s the story behind Microsoft’s Xbox One in all of this?