Report: Steam Has a Monopoly Over PC Gaming

The idea of Steam launching on Apple iMacs this month apparently has conspiracy theorists all in an uproar. After all, Valve Software's beloved PC gaming client has been around for ages, however the move to Mac has caused many to question its overall presence in the PC gaming scene. Namely, there's indication that an unfair monopoly over PC gaming is in play, and fingers are all pointing to Steam.

But various voices are coming to Steam's defense, saying that the service dominates the market because no other company has offered gamers anything better in terms of value. "The fact that Valve was there waiting for the switch [to digital downloads] isn't their fault--it shows they are savvy," said MCV's Michael French.

Naturally, rival services are quick to swoop in and cry anti-competitive. One unnamed source told TechRadar that the matchmaking system isn't open and thus feeds people back to Steam. "Even [Valve] being a developer and a publisher at the same time means that other developers feel like they could be second-rate citizens (or at best, on the same level as all the indie games on the service)," the unnamed source said.

TechRadar's entire article offers many different views on Steam, some of which point to its early entry into the market with Counter-Strike and Half-Life at hand. There's also an analysis on why Games for Windows failed, with EDGE magazine blaming the failure on the company's need to tackle piracy by locking saved games to online accounts.

Does Valve really have a monopoly on the PC market? Probably not. Eventually it boils down to content, presentation, and accessibility. Valve has spent many years perfecting the service, has amassed a wide user-base since its launch seven years ago. Of course, its popularity may be as simple as familiarity: PC gamers are familiar with Left 4 Dead 2, Half-Life, and the Valve brand. Will that still hold true ten years from now? Maybe not.

Does Steam have an unfair monopoly of digital distribution?

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  • Well... it's *really* obvious why Games for Windows failed, it's because it does nothing for the consumer and just plain sucks.

    Second, Steam is a very useful tool to use for digital distribution and management. It has a nice interface, good download speeds, awesome deals. And while at launch it's prices are generally just MSRP, with no ~$10 sales you get at Best Buy or some other places, their weekend and midweek deals are often amazing. My backlog of games has tripled since I started using Steam (near exclusively, now).

    I don't think they have an unfair monopoly, and even if they do, it's completely the result of no one else stepping up to the plate. Granted, I think Impulse will take off in a few years (which'll be great), it's just not on the same level as Steam (yet).

    Oh, and Direct2Drive lost my interest completely since I can't use my Oblivion mods with it.
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  • STEAM offers fair prices, and is great to their customers. I don't care if they have a monopoly, they certainly aren't acting like one
    23
  • I have been using steam for years now. And I have had a great experience thus far. I don't know how many times I have looked for older games I have bought like BF2, and can't find it (my stupidity I Know). So, now I know where my games and CD keys are now...On Steam :-)
    22
  • Other Comments
  • I don't think so, there are others services. those are popular and everybody focus againt Valve for their success with the digital distribution. Others companies focus in digital distribution have their exclusives and their unique way to address piracy and to manage community. First EA and Gamestop you have to pay a fee for theirs to keep your game more time. D2D doesn't have a community and their service its for download only. Impulse needs to implement others thing to bring more people to their service.
    5
  • Well... it's *really* obvious why Games for Windows failed, it's because it does nothing for the consumer and just plain sucks.

    Second, Steam is a very useful tool to use for digital distribution and management. It has a nice interface, good download speeds, awesome deals. And while at launch it's prices are generally just MSRP, with no ~$10 sales you get at Best Buy or some other places, their weekend and midweek deals are often amazing. My backlog of games has tripled since I started using Steam (near exclusively, now).

    I don't think they have an unfair monopoly, and even if they do, it's completely the result of no one else stepping up to the plate. Granted, I think Impulse will take off in a few years (which'll be great), it's just not on the same level as Steam (yet).

    Oh, and Direct2Drive lost my interest completely since I can't use my Oblivion mods with it.
    29
  • I have been using steam for years now. And I have had a great experience thus far. I don't know how many times I have looked for older games I have bought like BF2, and can't find it (my stupidity I Know). So, now I know where my games and CD keys are now...On Steam :-)
    22