Valve Announces Steamworks: Free Tool Suite Available to All PC Developers

By Nick Breckon, Jan 29, 2008 10:15am PST Valve Software today announced Steamworks, a suite of tools freely available for any developers to use with retail or online PC releases.

The tools include real-time sales, gameplay, and product activation statistics, an encryption system, territory control, auto updating, voice chat, multiplayer matchmaking, social networking services such as leaderboards, and other development tools. The full list of features can be found on Shacknews.

Many of the features are already integrated into the Steam Community platform. The tool set is similar to what Microsoft offers to developers--for a fee--in both Windows Live and Xbox Live.

"Developers and publishers are spending more and more time and money cobbling together all the tools and backend systems needed to build and launch a successful title in today's market," said Valve president Gabe Newell. "Steamworks puts all those tools and systems together in one free package, liberating publishers and developers to concentrate on the game instead of the plumbing."

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23 Threads | 97 Comments
  • This has to be one the most confusing press releases ever.

    Scenario 1:
    Valve seems to be saying that developers and publishers can set up their own little mini-steam system within their own environments; meaning EA Steam, Blizzardvision Steam, etc.

    While the tools themselves are for the most part better than what exists currently, I fail to see any additional consumer benefits. We will still have a segregated PC user base, we still have to worry about multiple community tools and configurations to play games, we still don't have a unified PC gaming platform. Additionally, I am 100% positive publishers and developers will fuck around with piles of additional restrictions which will be per mini-steam environment (or not) creating significant consumer confusion in the long run.

    People are making comparisons with Xbox Live, but in this scenario, you will not have a unified platform and most certainly would be missing out on the greatest feature of Xbox Live (universal community connectivity) in addition to the other Xbox Live benefits.

    This is more like Valves version of an enhanced Gamespy like system.

    Scenario 2:
    On the other hand (and the scenario I am leaning towards), is that Valve is saying that everyone will use their Steam but the developers and publishers can have control over how they distribute the game, and what Steam features they wish to support.

    In other words, Steamworks is mearly a "prep" package for Valves Steam, without the need to distribute through steam.

    The RPS article and RomSteady's questions seem to support this scenario but there is still considerable confusion here, most notably absent is the benefit of going this route over simply publishing on steam as it is setup now, or the pricing for the steam services you wish to support.

    Either way I fail to see how this benefits developers. Instead of paying a publisher independent entity like Gamespy for community features, they are paying their direct competitors for such services. They would have better tools but at the high price of supporting their competition in the process.

    Scenario 3:
    Collect underpants?

    As another developer pointed out a while ago (sorry can't recall who it is at the moment), Valve should break away Steam Powered into an independent company, separate from Valve entirely with its own board of directors and independent goals. In fact, it would be nice to see them to open it up as a not-for-profit to a committee of publishers and industry figures covering all aspects of PC gaming, from indie to big bucks publishers and finally have a unified PC gaming space.

    .. because there seems to be a great conflict of interest at this point.