'Dangerous' for Steam to dominate digital PC market - Minecraft creator

Markus Persson praises Valve's digital distribution hub, but says only one major platform is "scary," and EA's Origin hub "does a couple things badly."

Valve's digital delivery hub Steam has 40 million users and is a juggernaut in the broadband PC gaming market. But there's reason to be wary of such dominance, according to Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson.

More competition would be healthy for the digital PC market, according to Persson.

Speaking to GameSpy, Persson explained that he is a supporter of Steam but finds the idea of one platform to be "scary."

"I think it's a bit dangerous to only have one digital distribution platform like Steam," he said. "I love Valve, but out of principle, I find the idea of one platform a bit scary."

Persson added that competing services like EA's Origin, as well as Desura and Impulse are good for the market.

Speaking directly about Origin--which now has 11 million registered users--Notch said he was surprised by the implementation of some of the portal's services.

"Origin does a couple things badly compared to Steam, which is impressive since they had eight years to study Steam," he said. "They should definitely have a chance to do their thing, but they might want to move away from titles that make people use it and show people why they should use it."

A recent report stated PC gaming surged in 2011, claiming the global market took in $18.6 billion last year and predicting a valuation of $25.5 billion by 2015.

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334 comments
pimpofdoom
pimpofdoom

So far Valve is doing just fine. When another digital distributor comes around and outdoes Valve and provides more for the customer I will switch over. So far I think Steam has earned its success with great deals and fine community features.

WCK619
WCK619

@dude976 I didn't say anything about Steam spying on people. But you do voluntarily give up a lot of personal information to Steam. You have to as part of the terms of using it, organizing your games through it, buying games through it, etc. This includes names, password, credit card information, phone number, and even your address. All the things their marketing tool has enabled you to do is irrelevant. The point is they're forcing you to use it as a prerequisite to playing your games. It's an all-in-one place, which is a security risk in itself, and you want it to be the ONLY all-in-one place.You'd prefer Valve just have the monopoly on this restrictive marketing gimmick. Do you understand the business dynamics of that? Do you know what a monopoly does to a market and the economy?

ranbla
ranbla

Any game that requires me to use Origin won't be in my collection. EA is an evil company that cares about one thing and one thing only: money. They force developers to release games early that are still full of bugs, tarnishing those developers' reputations forever. That's not good business. That's just stupid greed.

Slash_out
Slash_out

xXAcidXX You miss his point. He is not saying that some game should be on other platforms only. Not even close. He is even saying Origin should stop making exlusive games forcing people to use their platforms. He is saying that there should be a competition, and choice for the buyers. Which is obvious. I love steam, but the reason steam gives such good deals is so that they can have the edge on other platforms. If steam completly crush everything else. It will eventually lead to bad things for the consumer. No monopole is good.

xXAcidXx
xXAcidXx

What does he expect.... Steam has a very long reputation, no need for CD's, everything all on one system. Another point is why would anyone want other digital providers...it would lead to confusion, having games on steam then on another and another. If your like me and have over 100 games on steam, i wouldnt ever consider buying games from another digital market

Mastermue
Mastermue

Until EA gets rid of the spyware from Origin, it will never be on machine of mine.

BigGerty
BigGerty

Notch does have a point...in a way. I love steam and the way it allows me to have all my games in one place. But what I don't like is the closed ecosystem it is becoming, where we see crap "big publisher" games being sold without review and good indie and small publisher games being rejected because "...they don't fit well with steam...". What people have to realize is Valve is a business, not an altruistic entity looking out for the good of all PC gamers. They don't care if they sell good games on steam or not...they only care about money...and if a big publisher with lots of money says they don't want a certain indie or small publisher game on steam... For an example do a search on the Book or Unwritten Tales, a very good and highly polished adventure game that was rejected by steam. Rejected at the same time such big publisher gems as: Sword or Stars II and Stronghold 3 where being released...both of which were craptastic.

Zverugin
Zverugin

Persson, how much did EA payed you for this words? Or maybe John Riccitiello offered you lamborghini, no? Anyway EA can go to hell, Steam always gonna be number one for me.

smghottie
smghottie

I don't think anybody disagrees there needs to be more than one digital download platform...and there are. Is direct2drive dead now too? Origin and Impulse just suck...and without BF3 Origin wouldn't have anything really. Steam owns the market like Apple owns the handheld/laptop market. Why? Superior products. Steam FTW.

Caldrin
Caldrin

only reason origin has 11 million subs is because they are forced to register on there to paly any new EA games online.. if it was not for that fact im pretty sure origin would have hardly any registered users.

WithoutGraceXII
WithoutGraceXII

Cool story Mr. Minecraft. I'll keep using Steam because it's the best, you can support other DD outlets to make sure Steam has competition.

detonadoma
detonadoma

i'll tell you where you can shove your Origin

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

@vault-boy, australians pay more for steam games than usa counterpart IF you say you live in australia. given it's an online distribution, that's wrong

nik0la2
nik0la2

Don't overwhelm people with unnecessary choices. EA publishes fifty games per year, once they fully move away from Steam you'll have no choice but to make an Origin account to get your favorite sports, sims and movie based games. Valve is already too well established to simply compete with. More distribution options simply complicates things for the audience.

vault-boy
vault-boy

As long as Steam continues to have an actual soul and doesn't become a complete corporate sellout than by all means stay dominate. But Notch is right that it is dangerous to have Steam be the only market out their because all it takes is one new chairman to turn steam into a money churning whore (and for the people who would say 'they made 18.6 million last year, they already are money churning whores, they did that by being the very best service for buying PC games, especially in foreign markets where games have giant markups like Australia. Remember, sometimes something is popular for a reason... because its good. Or because it has Will Smith in it).

jedediahpelland
jedediahpelland

I have a ton of games on my Steam library, the only reason I even have Origin was for Battlefield 3. I think the only reason alot of people even use Origin is because its required to play newer EA published games. I have no problem with Steam being dominite in this field, as long as they are far ahead of other platforms like this they will always have great deals. Valve is an excellent company and in my opinion if other competitors start to push in on them this will only cause them to resort to the same methods as these other companys, which would actually be a bad thing.

y3ivan
y3ivan

@mrboone01 PC DD has some minor competitor but most of the big titles are usually Steam activated (as much i hate the idea). Heck even during early 2000's Steam had to improve drastically to gain customers faith (PC gamers hate DD). Those times it had a few big publishers DD to compete with. As much i love steam, i dont think it should monopoly the industry. Theres never 1 way to solve problems.

y3ivan
y3ivan

@Red_Jester i dont think gfwl will have a comeback. MS is just throwing gfwl aside. it was lucky MS didnt shut it down completely.

Red_Jester
Red_Jester

The other thing that Valve has over any other potential competitor that doesn't muscle their way into the market through force like EA is that people trust Valve as a company. No one trusts EA. No big corporation who comes into the digital distribution market will ever gain that kind of consumer loyalty or trust. However, I do think Windows Live has a chance to make a huge comeback if what they aim to accomplish with Windows 8 comes to pass.

Shinji735
Shinji735

@mrboone01 : Fair enough, but I still see where the guy's coming from. Nothing can compete with Steam at this point just because it has so much to offer people that use it. Until they start to blatantly nickel and dime their user base I really don't see this as being an issue. And no, cosmetic items for TF2 don't count.

fattass21
fattass21

hey, they took the risk and moved on to online sales. they either knew it was going somewhere or took a huge gamble. either way it payed off, so now they are pretty much the walmart of online digital purchases for games. i like steam very much, but no one tried to compete with them, so now they dominate it.

Anema1986
Anema1986

being a monopoly in terms of digital games is a double edge sword, as they could rise the prices ridicuously but also mean they could keep improving his services to increase his costumers

Shinji735
Shinji735

@mrboone01: I don't quite understand the argument you're trying to make. "I think monopolies are bad and competition is good" and "Steam's current competition has a lot of room for improvement" don't seem like contradictory statements to me at all. Maybe it's just me? HMM. @Vodoo: Uh, what? The used PC game market died out a long time ago and the reason people are unhappy with Origin is because it's a shoddy platform. Steam is still a little clunky, but the deals they offer several times a year are hard to beat. I fail to understand how that makes me and anyone else any sort of hypocrite. Not a fanboy, but come on. If anyone's going to criticize, at least have valid points.

Y2WaShErE
Y2WaShErE

Steam all day! Tell origin to holla back when they get their stuff together.

theKSMM
theKSMM

Frankly, I'm glad there's competition too. That allows me to pick the best service(s) for my needs, and right now, that service is Steam (occasionally with a little GameTap and OnLive for good measure). Not only does Steam have a system that's easy to use and efficient, their sales set the industry's high water mark for pricing. And their size actually inspires confidence that they won't fold up in the future and take millions of gamers' libraries with them.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Argue other opinions about him if you like, but he makes a good point about Steam and Origin. Just look at EA and the Madden series. It's not to say that EA can't make a good football game, but competition makes for a better game all around.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

Notch probably has forgotten about how Steam slapped the crap out of all competition in the past decade. You know how and why? Because it's a good distributor of PC games even though its 100% DRM. It does a lot of things well and quite frankly I enjoy using Steam. GoodOldGames is the next best thing, mix of super old and some new games with no DRM whatsoever. Power to PC gaming!

DigitalExile
DigitalExile

As has been said Steam is doing it right. If things go wrong with Steam then having terrible alternatives like Origin isn't going to soften the blow. We can't not buy from Steam just because there are alternatives.

ragnar320
ragnar320

(this isnt about the article more bout comments) you know idk what everyones problem with steam is i love steam hell i just bout bioshock 2 for 5 bucks for the hell of it just cause i know its a good game and @Vodoo how can you say steam is phasing out old games when they actually still sell classic great games. and they also sell games from smaller devs where i have no clue where id buy them from or at least from a reliable source and dont just sell the big titles also steam is the most fuild service yet. Orgin i have to sign in before i open the game and then sign in after i open the game. only time i have to do that with steam is at the very first time i install a game not every time i want to open it. Steam is great and i understand that compittion is good cause it keeps prices down but steam is a great service

the_hunger
the_hunger

I absolutely agree that competition is good in the digital industry, if only to keep prices down and to give customers choices. I personally dislike any "service" that forces you to create an online account for a retail-box version of a single-player game or requires a third-party DRM program to run in the background. I especially dislike how such "services" are really directed at killing the used market in PC games. Thus, I don't buy games via Steam, Origin, etc. Impulse>Steam>=Origin, but gog.com does it better than anyone else since they don't ship a load of DRM with their digital products.

Vodoo
Vodoo

PC gamers are hypocrites. They say Origin is the devil but then they run to Steam when a new game comes out. How could you fully support Steam, which is helping phase out used games, and then turn around and belittle Origin? I read and article recently, thought it was in the new GI mag, and it listed all these hypocrisies in the industry that are happening.

MrOnage
MrOnage

The only reason why steam is the main digital distributor on PC is because they are doing it right! Origin can just ***** off with there exclusives. the only thing they are accomplishing with putting mass effect 3 exclusive on Origin is that more people pirate it. There is nothing dangerous about Steam, they are the market dominaters, but they don't exploit it, like EA does with Origin. So EA can just stop with forcing people to use Origin and make there software decent instead. that's the only way to get more users.

Masenkoe
Masenkoe

I don't care that valve is so big in the PC market. Does Notch really want people to have 15 different clients for different game suppliers? That's how it would be.

allanpaas
allanpaas

Having lots of money does not make one smart nor credible... Persson fails to see important details of what he is talking about.

guynamedbilly
guynamedbilly

@nedrith I agree entirely. Linking those games to your accounts should be optional.

guynamedbilly
guynamedbilly

I agree, but when Steam is consistently the best, what are you gonna do? Not buy from them because they are too good and make everyone else want to buy from them? Amazon and Gamersgate are really stepping up though. I've bought way more from Amazon digital this year than from Steam.

matok1
matok1

Scary?! Horror movies can be scary.... Valve rocks!!

nedrith
nedrith

I find the double standards quite annoying. Many complain that EA forces users to use Origin by making some of their games exclusive to it. Now how many Steam games are exclusive. For me it doesn't matter whether it's made by the company that made the service the point is you have to get Steam to play some games just like you have to get Origin to get some games. Personally I dislike both services, the PC is meant to be open not controlled like the consoles. Leave the dictatorships to Sony,Microsoft and Nintendo(though I would prefer if all 3 opened up their consoles). We don't need to add EA and Valve to that list.

jakesnakeel
jakesnakeel

Competition is only good if they sell the same products. Origin's heavy handed play of making all their EA titles Origin exclusive, doesn't alter this "scary" landscape. I don't get why publishers are so afraid of Steam. They are selling their products. Why do they look at it differently than a brick and mortar retailer?

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

The entire concept is bad. I hate it. Choosing Steam is one thing but being forced like CoD is doing is just bad. BF3 lack of an ingame browser is stupid.

sunghyun26
sunghyun26

Well, I think Valve should stop caring about their baby STEAM and tell us about Half Life 3 already. Are they waiting till the next next gen?

jmace1
jmace1

@CaptainHerlock How does the definition of monopoly not apply because we are talking about video games? The definition doesn't change. You're the one using that terminology. Steam does not have exclusive control over the digital distribution of games nor did it ever. At any point in time, another company could have come along and challenged Steam and they did. You're the Fox News equivalent to the people who liberally throw out terms like socialist, fascist, etc to get the naive and gullible all worked up without having any foundation for using the terminology. So let me reiterate, you're wrong. Requiring the user to download software to use their product does not make them a monopoly. These are primarily an effort to use DRM, which is a whole other issue. And if you're so concerned about business ethics than there are places that look far more grim than Steam.....better reinforce that bunker.

toad1956
toad1956

There was competition before and it failed. All over platforms that have challenged Steam have failed for various reasons. Let things be.

toad1956
toad1956

There was competition before and it failed. All over platforms that have challenged Steam have failed for various reasons. Let things be.

Geertwillers
Geertwillers

Markus Persson needs to get back to earth and stop his delusions of being an authority in the gaming industry. The only thing he did was make a cheap-ass game with low dev costs that turned out to be a hit, and then cashed in on the millions without investing one cent of it back into that game or it's community. There's still not even a server browser. Meanwhile Persson is swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, planning his next project, which is.... right, another cheap-ass game to cash in, instead of really having any ambition at all. He talks about Minecraft like it's the second coming of Jesus, but his actions don't really show he cares for it to be just that. He's not doing anything with it since alpha except some minor fixes etc. and of course cashing in on it like Justin Bieber. I'd call that dangerous to the gaming world. Or maybe dangerous is not the right word, it's just parasitic and non-contributive. At least Steam is a platform that gives opportunities for indy games that do have ambition. But Markus probably doesn't know how to code a game to integrate into steam, since he can't even code an ingame server browser or upgrade a graphics engine. The least he could do with his millions is hire some people who can.

Jawehawk-DK
Jawehawk-DK

Problem is that Origin is just plain awful. Not a single thing about it is decent. The fact that you have to use web browser to find online servers for EA games, is just sad and pathetic. I would agree with the statement of Valve having a monopol on the PC market, being bad. Except they frequently have amazing sales on offer, and that they aren't exploiding it like other puplishers... Steam isn't perfect either though...

u2i_l0ver
u2i_l0ver

Steam has pretty much kept the pc gaming market alive, besides MMORPGs and now free to play games. I've personally never had a problem with it, besides not being able to sell my old games. However, Markus is right in that's it's never good for one company/platform to have a monopoly. Perhaps stuff like OnLive will provide a good alternative.

badATchaos
badATchaos

I think it's funny a few of you think its unethical for games to force you to use Steam in order to play it, like HL2 or MW. Just go complain about iPhones only on AT&T and Verizon then. It was Apples choice to use those two services. Likewise: the only people you should be complaining to is the developers/publishers of those games for putting those games on there. It's not like its mandatory to put your game on Steam. Minecraft is a perfect example of a game that got huge with no Steam to speak of. In short business is business and the devs can do what they want.

BigFeef
BigFeef

Origin is a joke... an invasive PoS software with no redeeming qualities over any of the other digital distribution outlets. There are a couple of Origin-exclusive games I'd have loved to get (Mass Effect 3 comes to mind and Dragon Age 3 in the future) for my PC; but I'm not going through the constant crap again that I went through before finally uninstalling BF3 and Origin.