Year 2003. Valve, a video game company launches a new product on the market, Steam. It is not another game as round as half-life or as popular as Counter Strike. It is something much more revolutionary: a program that allows you to distribute video games over the Internet designed to make it easier for users to receive updates and patches. This 2023, Two decades later, it is the main video game sales and distribution program, with a 75% market share in computers and 20 million daily players., and the model that large companies try to copy without success. The most curious? It’s still run by the same person, Gabe Newell.
Newell, born in 1962, joined Microsoft at age 21, where for 13 years he was one of the developers of Dos and Windows, becoming a millionaire. This allowed her, along with his partner Mike Harrington, quit his job in 1996 and form Valve. There they would launch the excellent half-life with its own graphics engine, which would later evolve and let the players themselves use it for free to make their modifications. One of them, Counter Strikewas so successful that in the year 2000 the people at Valve decided that it was best to hire its two creators to make an official game.
Precisely in this context, Steam was born, as a way of being able to carry updates and patches to the players in a more comfortable and easy way. With some complex beginnings in which they earned hatred from users for their bugs, a horrible interface, online identification systems and the impossibility of being able to lend (or sell) video games, In 2005, he began to make deals with other developers to distribute their products digitally..
This strategy, combined with a great graphic and usability improvement in 2010, plus the arrival of high-speed Internet in more and more homes, leads to Steam becomes the yardstick by which the rest of the platforms that try, unsuccessfully, to overshadow it. Newell, Valve, and Steam created the digital video game distribution model. If any other digital sales system is analyzed, it is impossible not to see an attempt to achieve the same as them, perhaps only CD Projekt Red and its GOG being the ones that have been able to come close to something operationally interesting.