Saturday May 06, 2017

The End of Steam: Imagining the Future of How We Buy Games

Not that Valve’s distribution system is going anywhere, but here is a thought piece on what PC gaming could look like if Steam became history. While there are some potential scenarios discussed here, such as a non-profit, decentralized service or something powered by cryptocurrency, I don’t think anything would really change, aside from you moving on to a competing service. I mean, there’s nothing functionally wrong with what is currently out there, and more importantly, creating a successful distribution system in itself is extremely difficult. How'd Valve do it?

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I can’t predict the details of exactly how Steam or any other PC gaming service will change, but I can safely say that they will change. With that in mind, the question becomes: What do we want that change to be? What general possibilities can we imagine, and will they make our experience better or worse? I’ve indulged in this hypothesizing with input from a few games industry folks, borrowing their experience to imagine some possible futures: a mega-service run by a board of publishers, a consumer-friendly service run by a nonprofit, a totally decentralized service, and big moves by giants Amazon and Tencent. Here’s a glimpse at a few PC gaming galaxies far away from our own...