Thursday, January 26, 2012

Steam Releases Mobile Client, Wallets Tremble

Steam is arguably the most popular, commonly used PC gaming program out there. It took its dominion one step further when it released Portal 2 with Steamworks, a system that brought Steam compatibility to PS3. I have long wondered when they would take the first step into the mobile market.

That day is today.

Although its function is limited, the release of the Steam app for Android and iOS is a significant milestone for the platform. Currently, gamers with beta access can message their friends and make purchases from the Steam market for their PCs. The app does far less than it could, but I believe this is the first step to creating a viable, cohesive, platform-agnostic app market alternative. Amazon has already tried its hand at this, having its own marketplace on the Android platform, but Steam's potential seems greater. Not only could a Steam app marketplace employ the interesting sales tactics of its PC counterparts (giant sales, customer engagement, connectivity, etc.), but gamers have already invested in the platform. Valve has infrastructure and experience for running a games platform, including dealing with developers by giving them tool, making them a serious contender. By allowing gamers to engage with their friends through games on potentially different platforms, Steam also has the ability to create an SDK allowing for easier, more secure multiplayer gaming. Think Zynga, but less slimy.

And who do we have to thank for this? What brilliant soul thought to bring this idea to market? Our own staff writer Colby Sites sent this email to Valve just days before the announcement of this platform.

This letter is real and though he did shamelessly plug his programming skills in an attempt to seduce Valve into part-time work, his pleas pierced the void and in a record setting three days, Valve produced an iOS and Android app.

Sincerely though, this app has the potential to be a game changer and I could not be more excited. I am most assuredly a Steam fanboy, but I see very few reasons to not be. The coming years should be terribly interesting for the gaming community.
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