GAMESbrief: Steam Will Destroy PC Games Industry

A pretty dramatic statement for sure, but GAMESbrief (a games business blog with a decent reputation by most accounts) lays out the case against Steam for what "it might do" in the future if it becomes a monopoly in the PC games digital distribution space. The author prefaces his points by noting that Steam is not currently a monopoly and that it has done a good job of helping to keep the PC games market alive.

The points made in the story "Five reasons why Steam will destroy the PC games industry" are a response to feedback received from the book "How to Publish a Game," when it was suggested that "it made sense for a developer making PC games to work hard to get on all the distribution platforms (not just Steam, but GamersGate, Metaboli, Direct2Drive and so on)."

Feedback showed that developers strongly disagreed and showed that many seemed to be putting all their eggs in the Steam basket. The commenters claimed that Steam outsold all of the other sites combined by a factor of 10 or more. Taking that into account, GAMESBrief sees Valve’s Steam potentially becoming a dangerous monopoly. Assuming that happens, they list 5 reasons why being a monopoly is a bad thing for game developers and the PC games industry:

Reason 1: Monopolies stifle distribution innovation
In a free market, innovation and improvements are encouraged by competition. The problem occurs when one company is so far-and-away ahead that no-one else can catch up. Think of Google. Think of Facebook. And now we should be thinking of Steam in the same way.

Reason 2: Monopolies stifle creative innovation
I keep hearing that is getting harder and harder to get onto Steam, and if you don’t, then your game won’t sell. The PC has always been an open platform on which it is easy to distribute games. If Steam becomes a de facto monopoly, Valve decides which games we see. A bit too competitive to Half-Life? No distribution. We don’t like Match-3 games? No distribution. We’re not sure that anyone will want a game based on farming? No distribution.

Reason 3: The little guys don’t get a look in
Helping the little guys is hard. When you’re big, and profitable, and important, it’s easy to prioritise the big publishers over the little guys. The little guys are already struggling on the console (although PSN provides one route to market), but the PC has been their lifeblood. A megalithic monopoly could rationally decide that it is no longer cost-effective to support the little guys.

Reason 4: Steam has all the pricing power
Retailers won’t work with indies: it’s not worth their while and, more importantly, indies don’t give them marketing support.

What if that becomes true of Steam? Valve is in a position to say “your game won’t sell without us. We want a bigger cut, or upfront marketing commitment, or some form of guarantee.”

Reason 5: Valve doesn’t need to promote the platform
For all their weaknesses, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo spend a lot of money promoting and improving their platforms. Steam doesn’t improve the PC as a gaming device. I am a lot more comfortable about oligopolies when there is something in it for the consumer (like subsidised home consoles, for example).

You can read the whole thing, in context at

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  1. axiomatic says:

    So far, all who have tried to copy the good work Valve has done has come up short. EA came up short. Stardock came up short. Direct2Drive came close but ultimately came up short.

    Why again do we punish Valve for building the better mousetrap?

    I submit that Valve has set the "standard" and if the other companies matched Valve feature for feature they might actually gain some market share back from Steam. So far no one has even tried to take on Steam. Oh "It’s hard" you say? Man up dev’s.

  2. FlakAttack says:

    Steam turns away a LOT of games. Talk to the indie developers and they will tell you it can still be difficult to get a game on Steam.

    Look at Star Ruler: looks like it might be one of the most epic RTS games ever made… the developers have been trying to talk to Steam about getting the game on there, and have had no luck.

  3. Unruly says:

    A good way to backup your games so that you don’t really have to worry about needing the net to reinstall them is to make copies of their respective .gcf files and folders and put them on a DVD or flash drive. Third-party(non-Valve) games are typically listed in the Common folder, while Valve games are almost always in your individual account folder, although that’s recently started to change some with L4D and L4D2. That seem to always work for Valve games for me. I just copy over the files into the Steam folder, and away I go. Third-party games might have some files stashed away in other folders though, and might require you to re-download that last 1-2%. But that’s not Steam or Valve’s fault, that’s the game’s actual developer’s fault. So I’d go out and grab a 32gb flash drive or two, copy your most-played games’ files over to them, and for the most part you’ll be good to go.

    What sucks is when third-party guys have their own DRM on top of Steam’s. Like Company of Heroes does. While Relic may claim that it’s not DRM, the fact that it won’t let you play because it can’t connect to the validation servers means that it is.

    As for Steam locking the proverbial cabinet, with as much good as Valve has actually done for the PC community, and how they’ve kept their promises about pretty much everything so far, I’m of the belief that Gabe Newell was telling the truth when he said that, if it ever comes down to it, before Steam ever goes offline permanently they’ll have versions of their games available to use without it. But once again, third-party developers are a completely different story on that one, as they all control their own games. And for modding, you really shouldn’t worry about that too much. As long as an SDK is available, official or not, and people have access to the game’s files, mods will exist. They may revert back to the way they were back before Steam came around, but they’ll still be there. Besides, much of Valve’s major productbase started out as mods. CS, DoD, TF were all mods originally, and they even incorporate player-made maps and items into TF2. I don’t think that they would try to stifle the mod community when it’s not only made them money, but also helps reduce the work that they have to do. Not to mention the fact that their lead developers have even answered questions asking for help with level design, sound design, etc when emailed.

    I know, I may be stupid for putting my trust into a corporation, but Valve has gone to great lengths to keep the PC gaming community alive and I don’t think they’re going to do anything that will destroy their reputation so long as Gabe Newell is in charge. And seeing as how they’re a private company, I don’t think he’s ever going to leave.

  4. Ariolander says:

    1.) Being able to install without an internet connection is a pretty reasonable request and on Direct2Drive they actually enable you to do just that. They give you what is equivelent of an .ISO of the retail disk no special DRM wrapper or anything like that. Backup the .EXE D2D gives in your initial download you and you can install offline, on any computer, without any special programs. Buying from D2D is the digital equivelent to a Retail Box so if other competing services can offer offline installation options surely its not too much to ask the same for PC #1 digital distribution platform.

    2.) "Something is better than nothing" and "at least it has offline" is not a valid argument. That being said Steam sells Ubisoft games and those don’t have offline be it on Steam or retail.

    3.) Tell that to the Netokyo* team which Valve won’t list on Steam. Its another instance of Valve acting as a gatekeeper deciding what their userbase can and can’t have access to.

    4.) They are perfectly reasonable arguments as corporations though fine in the present have always been known to corrupt. Look at Facebook at one point it catered to students and valued privacy and personal information but now it openly sells user data to advertizers and over hte last 5 years has continually modified their TOS to the detriment of users once they effectivly killed all their competition. Thats how monopolies work. You turn a good face to gain userbase and then turn evil over time.

  5. harrypres55 says:

    1. If I buy something, I should have the right to install and play, regardless of whether or not I have internet. I should be able to make a local copy on a CD/DVD so I can reinstall the game should I be in a situation where internet is not available. This could be the part where you say that would promote piracy. I counter that by saying there has NEVER been a DRM solution that hasn’t been broken. EVER! Steam and, as far as I know, all other game distributing don’t allow this.

    2. Unacceptable! Steam was released in 2004, as I said before. After a game has been installed, It should “just work.” No loopholes, no advance settings, no bullshit. I attack Steam because it’s a service I’ve used in the past (and had issues with), but all of these company have the same problems regarding offline use, except for Stardock and their Impulse service. If you have a program with an “Offline Mode” than it better work, 100%. Otherwise, just remove it because your misleading your user base.

    3. This was taking out of context. My fear in the future is that because Steam has it’s hooks in every game, it COULD have the future potential to block mods that Valve (or other game companies) doesn’t approve of. Think about the GTA SA “Hot Coffee” mod. I though it was lame, to be honest, but because of the extreme public backlash, the game was “patched” to remove the content and censor the mod. Steam doesn’t do this now, but could play censor for all companies in the future, blocking and denying mods that don’t meet their approval standards. I don’t want any program playing big brother with my computer and since Steam has the potential to do this so I’ll steer clear whenever I can.

    4. When Steam has the keys to the virtual game cabinet that holds all the games the you paid for and could decide, at their discretion, whenever they want, that you can no longer play the game you paid for… That’s not scaremongering. That’s just scary.


  6. jedidethfreak says:

    I don’t know what system you guys are using, but it sure isn’t Steam. My current ISP cuts me out once every couple of days – sometimes for an hour or more – and I’ve never been cut from any of the Steam games I play.  I’ve started more than a few Steam games while my ISP was out without problems, as well.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  7. Afirejar says:

    I reinstalled Games for Windows live every time a Fallout 3 patch came out. Reinstalling wasn’t that bad, I know people, where it just wouldn’t work, no matter what we tried.

    The fact, that it’s breaking constantly definitely lost some other games that use GfW more than one sale.

  8. Bennett Beeny says:

    I agree with you. And the problem isn’t just for people in the boondocks or in the military. If I want to play an offline (single player) game that I bought, I should be able to do so as long as my PC is running. If I have an ISP outage (which happens quite a bit) or if I simply decide to cut my internet connection altogether, I should still be able to play the game I bought. Steam doesn’t allow me to do that. This is why I don’t buy Steam games.

  9. harrypres55 says:

    The point of internet connectivity is not moot. In many rural areas, high speed internet access is spotty at best. With usually only one or two high speed internet providers, they jack up the price and/or lower the bandwidth. In some cases, bandwidth limits and speed throttling are common because lack of competition. 

    "Pretty much everyone" isn’t everyone. My case is special but other people have reasons for not having internet. Saying "tough luck" isn’t enough. I should be able to play a game I bought, online or offline, and install the game I bought, online or offline. I will always choose the disk option if available. If not, then I will find some "other way" to play the game I’ve paid money for without an internet connection.

    Valve is user friendly right now. Who’s to say in 5 or 10 years? Corporate management can change, new rules can stifle your rights in the future.

    I see games bought from Steam as an indefinite rental. You’re fully allowed to use the game, for as long as they want to let you. A quick change to the Terms of Use, you’ll find all your so called "rights" gone. If I have the disk, I always have the right to play the game.

  10. Overcast says:

    Given Steam’s a bit better than Apple’s crap – well, just about anything is; as I wouldn’t even feel I really ‘own’ anything I supposedly ‘purchase’ from Apple. I have to mess with ‘Steam’ and it’s apps about 5 times as much as I do with any other game I own.

    Of the last 3 or 4 games I bought – all of them had an option to purchase on Steam. I did not use it for any purchases. The design of it is too restrictive, I don’t like it dumping all it’s junk under 50 nested folders and anytime something goes wrong, it’s like – re-install to fix it. Standard answer on the Steam forums.

    Comparing it to WoW, Age of Conan and a couple others – I have maybe had problems with those games once over the time I’ve played.

    And as for insternet access, I have broadband and all that, but I really like to depend on a little as possible on the ‘cloud’ for my applications to work – particularly on outside servers unless it’s online play of course. I know it’s been at least twice that some ‘problems’ have arose on Valve’s end – one of which whined about the Left for dead 2 maps not being in sync and screwed up the whole install, I wasn’t the only one complaining on the forum.

    I’m not opposed to the overall model of Steam or Apple, but they keep their claws in too deep. As long as I do not have to purchase it through any ‘online app provider’ – I won’t. If that’s the only option, I may well skip that product. I much prefer how Blizzard has WoW set up – login to account and it just works. I can keep a whole copy on a USB drive or whatever – if I have a problem, I simply overwrite the problem data with the backup – and it works. Not all this crap dependancy on buried registry entries, games for windows (fail), and whatever other 15 layers of BS all need to work in tandem for the app to work right.

    Don’t even get me started on ‘games for windows’ – you ever need to try and re-install that mess?

  11. jedidethfreak says:

    Just some counterpoints to your negatives on Steam, from someone who loves Steam:

    1) If you purchase a game digitally, I don’t see how you can expect to install it without an internet connection.  I know of nobody who has Steam that actually expects to do so.

    2) Yes, Steam’s offline mode has bugs, but at least Steam DRM HAS an offline mode.  Sega’s upcoming DRM will supposedly have one, but Ubi’s sure as hell doesn’t, and the bugs are rare.

    3) You do know that Valve made a bunch of games BECAUSE of mods to it’s existing products, and that Garry’s Mod is a tool to allow you to mod more games to your heart’s content, right?  In my opinion, mentioning modding as a negative to Steam is very shortsighted.

    4) Your final paragraph is nothing but scaremongering.  Anyone at any time can change the terms of your use of it’s product at any time – Sony and the OtherOS function, for example, or Nintendo releasing patches to prevent people from using homebrew.  These also prevent people from using things they’ve been using for some time, and people playing games they purchased from Steam know – or should know – that things can and may change in the future.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  12. NecroSen says:

    While I think your concerns are valid, I must say your point on internet connectivity is somewhat moot. With internet access as affordable as it is now in all parts of the US and the world, broadband access steadily rising, and government plans to bring certain broadband standards to all homes in the country, I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone has internet at this point. Those that don’t probably aren’t using Steam, anyway, with one of the few exceptions being your personal situation which is, unfortunately, so unique I doubt Valve would take the time to solve.

    Still, nobody likes telling our men and women in the armed forces that they can’t have something we enjoy back home. It might sound kinda cheesy, but if you ask Valve to help you out, I’m sure they’d try to oblige.

    As for mod support, Steam doesn’t really block anything, to my knowledge. As opposed to Apple’s App Store, there doesn’t seem to be a review procedure or a lockout feature for particular mods, and neither is there direct support from Valve for said mods. People make and release mods all the time that Valve is blissfully unaware of, which is probably for the best.

  13. harrypres55 says:

    Steam holds alot of power when it comes to your games. You gain some but lose alot.

    The good of the system is that it stores backup of you save games and preferences, updates your game with the latest patches and you don’t need a disk to install or play. It streamline the installation, usage and online play so those of limited computer knowledge can quickly play their game. The idea is to eventually make all PC game like console games. Just take a look at Modern Warfare 2 for PC. It acts like a console port… because that’s what is it’s. (dedicated servers, anyone?). The only other good I can see from the system is that you can find really great deals from time to time and save a lot of money.

    The bad what stopped me from using Steam, unless I absolutely have no choice. (Modern Warfare 2)

    – You lose your internet connection, you can’t install (or play in some cases) the game you purchased. You could say "Well, everyone has internet so that not a problem." but the truth is everyone DOESN’T have internet. I’m in the military, preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. I will have no internet for a full year. So if for some reason I need to reinstall a game on my laptop, I’m shit out of luck. There are many other reasons for not having it.

    – Steam’s offline mode STILL has bugs in it causing issues (It was released in 2004). Valve doesn’t seem to keen on helping its users to use their games when there not connected. – You can’t sell or trade the games you bought. All the better for companies that hate the used game trade. Bad for the consumer.

    – I’m unfamiliar with how mod support currently works now but it could be highly regulated in the future. Steam has it’s hooks in every game. If it don’t like what your doing, it can stop you.

    Remember that whatever Steam does now, can be changed in their Policies and Terms of Service, AT ANY TIME, WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT. All of the games you bought will be effected. And there will be NOTHING you can do about it.

  14. Baruch_S says:

    I hear about a number of indy games through Steam when they pop up on the "Now Available" window or in the demo section. I don’t know why this guy is complaining about Steam cutting the indy developers out when getting on Steam is probably one of the best ways for these publishers to get publicity.

  15. ChrowX says:

    What a wonderful list of half-truths and outright BS! Steam is not a stagnant monopoly that’s devouring the PC games industry. Because of Valve, some companies have seen insane profits that they would have never had if they had stuck to box copies. In most cases, the occassional specials and discounts are more helpful and beneficial to the developers of the game than they are to Valve.

    Also, I don’t approve of crying over the indie developers who don’t get any exposure when Steam has a whole section just for Indie games to be displayed mongst their peers instead of burying them alongside huge titles.

  16. harrypres55 says:

    Which is why I didn’t think twice about buying Sins Of A Solar Empire from them. Don’t forget Stardock was the company that came up with the Gamer Bill of Rights. It’s the only company I’m proud to support.

    Value (and all other game distributing companies) could learn a thing or two from them.

  17. Mr.Tastix says:

    I enjoy reading peoples close-minded opinions on this matter, completely disregarding the idea that Steam has the power to become a monopoly if it wanted to be.

    Yes, there are things like D2D and GOG but these pale in comparison to the large-scale efforts that Steam is. And it’s just going to get bigger unless it’s competitors step up to the plate and actually do what Steam doesn’t do. Steam becoming a monopoly IS a risk, it is with any industry, but it’s only a big risk if there’s a lack of competition and currently, there is not.

    The guy brings up some interesting points, it’s food for thought anyway. And honestly, what DOES Steam bring to the PC as a gaming device that other industries haven’t? Instant messaging, automatic patching, digital downloads? These aren’t new at all.

    Truth be told, I’d rather buy a video game from a store. At least there’s the slight possibility I can resell it, and that slight possiblity? Yeah, it’s smaller than you think. What with the state of DRM these days, Steam isn’t exactly helping the "little man" in this regards. The little man being us; the consumers.

    — Randi Tastix

  18. lordlundar says:

    Not to forget stardock’s Impulse engine which doesn’t even do the "connection required" security check. Once the game’s installed through Impulse, it functions as a seperate entity.

  19. deuxhero says:

    Unless GoG, D2D and the good chunk of people that prefer some form of physical goods disappear, Steam isn’t becoming a monopoly.

  20. hellfire7885 says:

    Indeed. In fact Team Fortress, Counter Strike, Day of Defeat, and Garry’s Mod were all born form mods made by only a few people.

  21. Vengful_Soldier says:

    I facepalm whenever i see someone worried about mods for games. Steam cannot actually block modded games unless otherwise told BY the developer who is using Steam. And we’re talking about Valve for christ’s sake! They love modders!

  22. Frommonday says:

    The five points are needlessly inflammatory.

    For one, as I understand things, it’s pretty easy to publish a game on Xbox Live’s new Indie platform. And let’s face it, some of those games are really, really really crappy. Others are decent titles. Some are even great. But right now, there’s a viable market for the hobbyist to earn back their investment, if not make a bit of money. Publishing on Xbox Live Arcade requires more of an initial investment, but small game studios can produce a title for a reasonable budget and can expect to get some exposure. And that’s just one alternate platform to Steam which I can think of off the top of my head which isn’t mentioned here.

    Anyway, addressing the points…

    Reason 1: Monopolies stifle distribution innovation

    There will NEVER be a monopoly on PC Gaming. Whether it be competition from fellow online distrubition methods, cross-publishing to Xbox Live Marketplace, the WiiWare, or the Playstation Store, publishing the game online and generating revenue based on advertisements or even flat out selling copies via a good ol’ fashioned brick and mortar store, there are TOO MANY options for a developer for Steam to even attempt to tackle it.

    Oh, and funny story: I think Facebook, and Myspace pops up right alongside it. The number of employees each company employs backs up the comparison. Examples of monopolies should generally actually BE monopolies.

    Reason 2: Monopolies stifle creative innovation

    Again, it’s hard to prove the monopoly in the first place, and games like World of Goo (or anything in the Humble Indie Bundle, really) show that there’s certainly a lot of creative innovation.

    Reason 3: The little guys don’t get a look in

    Except that they always will. They might not all get exposure on Steam, sure, but there are dozens of viable options. Again, I’d point to companies like 2D Boy or other tiny studios as an example of how they always have and always will have options. Nothing in the Humble Indie Bundle required the bundle to actually be profitable, and yet the bundle raised over a million dollars.

    And as the success of the various console downloads show, there’s a lot of room there for the little guy to publish their quirky game and achieve some moderate success.

    Reason 4: Steam has all the pricing power

    Except that this relies entirely on Steam becoming a monopoly for PC distribution and also requires the developers not to put the effort in to reach the obscenely large install bases on Wii, Xbox 360 or PS3, which means the company would be too dumb to survive in the first place.

    Reason 5: Valve doesn’t need to promote the platform

    This strikes me as particularly dumb. Valve does plenty to promote the platform and the platform does improve your gaming experience, depending on what you’re looking for. Having a game on Steam has some advantages over regular download and play online sales or buying a game in a store. Valve works to make the platform beneficial to the user and provides services which have value for a certain section of the consumer base.


    The thing with Steam right now is that it’s working precisely because Valve is not taking advantage of the fact they’ve got something close to a monopoly. They let the little guys peddle their games, they don’t take advantage of their monopoly to make life hard for the customer, and they have a wide selection of titles which make the distribution service one worth having an account for.

    Choking off the supply of games would kill the service, put bluntly. It’s a shiney, happy soap bubble and the minute Valve tries to prod it, it’ll burst. Either they’ll keep it like it is and it’ll slowly flourish, or it’ll pop and become something for Valve games only.

  23. ZippyDSMlee says:

    The "free market" is a straw man brought out when it doubt of really understanding market situation, the only time we ever had a free market was before copyright enforcement kicked in 100+ years ago  and even then the largest markets were monopolies of some sort.

    Monopolies stifle distribution innovation

    Yes they do the trouble is who’s monopoly is the lesser of evils, look at the game industry as a whole its run on 2 or 3 large monopolies thats the closed nature of the consoles and their licensing systems, then you have their online components which spread their monopoly out a bit but do not give us a wider choice at lower cost. If we had universal game hardware that was licensed out to vendors to build with some wiggle room we’d see a drop in prices across the board or chaos ala the android market, it would help if the minims could not be lowered but you have more options going up and building a cheaper single unit to play different franchiseware on.

    I digress…… I would not call the console war model and its online pincher attack on consumers innovation……… progress or evolution perhaps but innovative?


    Reason 2: Monopolies stifle creative innovation

    Look at the game industry and the monopolies founded on the console war model and tell me there is creative innovation in mainstream gaming….. if you say there is you need to cut back on the kool aid…..
    Steam(live,psn,wiiware equally) is more likely to be a breeding ground of creativity than the big box model’s that are used to distract and pickpocket the masses with…….

    Reason 3: The little guys don’t get a look in

    Are you sure you are not ranting about the game industry as it is today? Main stream gaming is as generic as ever but via resources like steam,PSN,LIVE,WIIWARE smaller  groups of developers have a a tiny pond they can at the very least try to live in were hey are not digested by the whale of the market place.

    I could talk about shareware and how PC gaming used that to sell off stream stuff but frankly thats a drop compared to the resources they have now.

    Reason 4: Steam has all the pricing power

    What publisher dose not? They can do better and take a % of whats sold rather than charge a flat fee or what not but publishers pretty much rule the day and steam is no worse/better than any other mainstream publisher.

    Reason 5: Valve doesn’t need to promote the platform

    You’re comparing a cab services to a rickshaw service there, essentially both get you from A to B but one has a hell of a higher maintaiance and cost associated  with it the other just needs to hang out at a couple spots been seen in public and people will come to it.


    Aren’t Valve the good guys?

    Meh they are a publisher like any other with  different approach to distribution that only serves the PC market, if they could find a model(large yearly sum to each and 10% of all profit) and approach PSN/LIVE and WIIWARE with it they could expand if they could develop cross console supporting developmental tools. Monopolies depending on the sum of their parts can spread out and be a good thing more or less, the trouble comes when they get too greedy and start needless price hikes.


    Are there any silver linings?

    Have you even looked at the off lable kinda mianstream PC game market? 


    semi recent games on PC only or PC and other

    The Whispered World, Beat Hazard, Mount & Blade: Warband, Twin Sector, Hotel Giant 2, King’s Bounty: Armored Princess, Europa Universalis III: Heir to the Throne, Shattered Horizon, Lucidity, Order of War, Officers, Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina’s Fate, The Path, Death to Spies: Moment of Truth


    PC gaming is not dead mainstream support is because as a conglomerated glob’omonoply its easier to push software on consoles than the PC, console is also a eaiser makret to sale "down" to.




    Steam is not bad but I do not support it, offline mode dose not work as it should I don’t mind activation even if I think its pointless(watch for key abuse rather than force unnecessary and arbitrary DRM rules), if they get offline mode to be something that happens smoothly and automatically I would support steam. LIVE is a joke as far as consumer friendliness goes PSN is better but still anal in all the wrong places and I do not think wiiware has annoying DRM on it so meh either fight the fat corporate suit or the one legged boogieman the system will get a piece of you regardless.




    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression!

  24. Kojiro says:

    Lame, inflammatory writing.  There is nothing preventing a competitor from distributing games.  Worst case scenario, we’ll see two or three Steam-like distribution systems.  It will only take 1 blockbuster game on another system to get people to download and install said system and then the defacto monopoly is broken.

  25. Thad says:

    Interesting points, but we’re not talking about the App Store here; people can still distribute PC executables any way they want.  Valve can potentially become a de facto gatekeeper in the way that retailers are (or used to be), but installing independently-published software for Windows (or Mac, or Linux, or…) will never be the sort of hassle that jailbreaking an iPhone or modding a console is.  I think the worst-case scenario is that PC gaming goes back to the way it was before Steam.

    Which isn’t to say the PC gaming industry is perfectly safe and will continue to expand; a crash could still come from any number of places.  I just don’t think Steam’s going to be the driving force if such a thing DOES come to pass.

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