According to Stardock CEO (the company that used to own Impulse before it sold off its digital distribution platform to GameStop) Brad Wardell, Steam is holding up Valve's ability to develop its various game properties in a timely fashion. Wardell made his comments in a recent interview with IndustryGamers. In Wardell's opinion, the resources needed to continually operate and manage a digital distribution platform as massive as Steam has led to a slowdown in Valve's game development capabilities over the years.
"Even though Valve is in Seattle, where you can get developers everywhere, [Steam's] had an effect on their own development schedule," Wardell told IndustryGamers. "There's not been a new Half-Life in a long time; a lot of people have complained about that."
Some would argue that maybe Wardell is comparing his own experiences with that of Valve's. In the past he has said that managing Impulse was a key reason why its latest game Elemental: War of Magic, was such a mess. The digital distribution platform got so big that the company had to move resources around - and away from game development - to deal with it.
"They've had their own challenges getting new titles out the door, and a big part of that I'm sure is the same problems we've had. When one of your groups is so ridiculously profitable, every business instinct you have is to throw all your best people at it, because that's what's making the money. That's just sound business. At the end of the day, again you have decide if that's what you want to do."
Wardell added if you compare Valve's development time prior to Steam you can see that it has an impact over the years.
Of course the company has certainly expanded since the days before Steam came along and has plenty of developmental talent to work with that have nothing to do with Steam at all..