Steamworks: Produce Games on Valve's Platform

Valve (creators of Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike, and the amazingly awesome Portal) just announced the release of Steamworks, a set of services for game developers. The services include distribution, development and administration for PC games. They can be used ala carte (with any game engine) or as a package. A press release lists the available services:

• Real-time stats on sales, gameplay, and product activation: Know exactly how well your title is selling before the charts are released. Find out how much of your game is being played. Login into your Steamworks account pages and view up to the hour information regarding worldwide product activations and player data.

• State of the art encryption system: Stop paying to have your game pirated before it’s released. Steamworks takes anti-piracy to a new level with strong encryption that keeps your game locked until the moment it is released.

• Territory/version control: The key-based authentication provided in Steamworks also provides territory/version controls to help curb gray market importing and deliver territory-specific content to any given country or region.

• Auto updating: Ensures all customers are playing the latest and greatest version of your games.

• Voice chat: Available for use both in and out of game.

• Multiplayer matchmaking: Steamworks offers you all the multiplayer backend and matchmaking services that have been created to support Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, the most played action games in the world.

• Social networking services: With support for achievements, leaderboards, and avatars, Steamworks allows you to give your gamers as many rewards as you would like, plus support for tracking the world’s best professional and amateur players of your game.

• Development tools: Steamworks allows you to administer private betas which can be updated multiple times each day. Also includes data collection tools for QA, play testing, and usability studies.

The press release is light on the financials, but I would assume that is a rev-share deal through the Steam marketplace.

Microsoft has also been making strides with games developer tools and platforms with XNA. XNA also offers development (through XNA Game Studio – recently updated) and distribution and rev-share through XBox Live Marketplace (and lots of tutorials).

I’ve been playing Portal (slowly) and find the Steam user-experience to be a good one. I think that the most compelling aspects of both XNA and Steampowerd are distribution. There are other game development platforms available, but only so many ways to find the right gamer audience. I look forward to seeing what comes of these platforms.

(via Brian Jepson via

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