BizSpots: Valve, Square Enix, D3, CDV

Steam's community features updated; Square goes online; Vicious Cycle purchased; Slitherine deal struck.

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Steam getting community-focused update
First hinted at in May, Valve today unveiled more details on the major update to Steam, its downloadable-game service, planned for this July. Aimed at appeasing its 13 million-strong user base, the update will add a bevy of new community features. Included will be personalized Steam pages and profiles, as well as the ability to create and join user groups, schedule games with friends, check out prior opponents, and see how well everyone played. Also included will be the ability to chat with groups via text or voice. Valve plans to make these features available for all of the games in its catalog.

Square Enix opening NA store
In the sci-fi spoof Spaceballs, Yoda parody Yogurt said the immortal words "Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made." With Square Enix's game sales hitting record numbers yet the company still coming up short on profits, the company today unveiled its new online store dedicated to the North American crowd. Though details about the new store were sparse--its placeholder Web site currently only displays a Judge action figure--it will likely feature game-centric jewelry and action figures much like Square Enix currently offers online in Japan.

D3 makes not-so-Vicious acquistion
D3Publisher today announced it had acquired North Carolina-based Vicious Cycle Software. The two companies have had a working relationship in the past, as D3 has previously published Vicious Cycle's critically acclaimed Puzzle Quest for the PlayStation Portable. The two currently stand to collaborate again on Vicious Cycle's upcoming Dead Head Fred, which was announced at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. As part of the deal, Eric Peterson and Wayne Harvey, president and vice president of Vicious Cycle, respectively, will remain onboard, and the studio's 50-person development team will not be relocated.

CDV rushes retailers with Slitherine games
CDV Software, which specializes primarily in wartime strategy games, today announced it had signed a copublishing deal with Slitherine Software, which specializes primarily in wartime strategy games, to bring the developer's games to the North American market. The first game to be released under the deal will be The History Channel Great Battles of Rome for the PC in September.

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