Steam Gets First Non-Game AppsOriginally expected to launch in September, Valve's Steam platform has finally expanded outside of games. Steam, which has been keeping gamers happily fed on AAA and indie games alike for years, has finally opened up its app store. Right now, most of those apps focus on game creation. But it is only a matter of time before Valve makes Steam into a full-fledged app store competitor to Microsoft's and Apple's.
Right now, the only pieces of software on the store are ArtRage Studio Pro, CameraBag 2, GameMaker: Studio, 3D-Coat, 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 11, and Valve's own movie maker based on the Source engine and using characters from Team Fortress 2. Right now, the store is Windows only, but I'm sure Valve is planning on expanding it to both Mac and Linux, both of which it has moved the platform to in recent years.
If you happen to be interested in any of the titles, there's a sale going on right now to celebrate the launch. You get 10% off all software for the first week. In addition, all the titles will take advantage of Steam's handy framework for updating titles and pushing out updates. In addition, at least one title is directly integrated with the platform. Games made with Game Maker can be directly published to the Steam Store, for example.
Valve's Steam has been a remarkable example of a gaming store done right. It manages to combine the difficulties of maintaining an online digital store while dodging piracy and a sense of openness. Valve is a big proponent of an open web and open computer, and it shows in its Steam platform.
With the move into apps, Steam might be able to provide a handy counterpoint to stores owned by PC manufacturers. And then there are the rumors that Valve might be building their own hardware. It's really hard for me not to see this as a stepping stone to a final objective, one which puts the company directly in competition with the software giants of the world.