GDC 2002: Valve unveils Steam

The developer reveals its broadband software delivery platform.


Valve, the developer best known for creating Half-Life and Counter-Strike, unveiled Steam, its broadband software delivery technology, at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) today in San Jose, California. According to the developer, the new technology will let consumers purchase and start applications faster than if they install them from a CD. The technology will also let users access their applications from their PC by logging into their Steam accounts. In addition to streamlining the installation process, Steam will eliminate the hassle of dealing with downloadable patches and updates. Another advantage of the new distribution technology is that it eliminates the overhead costs of traditional physical distribution.

Steam technology can be implemented in any software application. The technology gives developers an integrated package of direct content publishing, flexible billing, ensured version control, antipiracy, and other features.

According to a Valve poll of more than 1 million of its active online consumers, more than 75 percent of its group currently has broadband Internet access.

"With the rapid proliferation of broadband connectivity throughout the world, and as gaming and all software developers continue to extend their products' functionality via the Internet, it became very apparent that a platform for delivering new services and offerings was needed," said Gabe Newell, managing director of Valve.

Valve is demonstrating the Steam technology at the GDC today with a test version of Microsoft's upcoming real-time strategy game Impossible Creatures.

"The performance and improvements to operating efficiency are tremendously exciting," said Alex Garden, CEO of Relic Entertainment, the developer of Impossible Creatures. "This is the right way to go about taking advantage of broadband for next-generation applications."

Valve is currently conducting a beta test of Steam, with more than 75,000 testers. The developer plans to increase the number of testers to more than 1 million later this spring. For more information about Steam, visit the official Web site.

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