OPINION: Steam sceptics must be quick

Everyone MCV spoke to about Valve and its towering digital distribution system Steam has been massively positive about it.

At first, that is. Admiration and awe is always followed by bitterness, jealousy and, above all, frustration.
Steam, simply, is just much, much better than everyone else.

Being brilliant tends to attract customers. And keep them.

Therein lies the rub – Steam’s perfect delivery mechanism has created a hugely imperfect world for everything else. Retailers, publishers and distributors are scared of losing out.

But what took them so long to wise up to this? The core industry should have been paying attention long ago while Valve, for the last six years, embraced audiences with increasingly wider, open arms.

I can appreciate why some have been slow to catch on – ‘80 per cent of the digital download market’ might sound a bit ‘tallest dwarf competition’. But these are serious numbers – analysts say the digital and physical market will reach parity within three or four years.

Luckily, that means there’s time for those sceptical of Steam to carve out opposing market share. But they’ve gotta be quick. If the big retailers are only now figuring out that ignoring Steam has handed it a monopoly, I hate to think of the fate that will befall those who might not even know who Valve is.

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