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Valve missed a huge opportunity to be the "first party" of PC gaming

GuinGuin

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With the launch of Steam and shortly afterwards Half Life 2 in 2004 Valve nearly instantly transformed the PC gaming market. They gave a single storefront and DRM for games of all shaped and sizes. Since that time they have released depending on how you count the various mods as few as 7 games which most recently includes Artifact a failed collectable card game and Half-Life Alyx which while apparently amazing requires expensive and bulky equipment to fully enjoy.
They could have easily taken the money earned from Steam and invested it in their own studios or purchased studios to release games on Steam. Fast forward to 2021 and Epic is eating into their storefront space and Microsoft is gaining huge ground with game pass for PC. I think they took their position for granted and really failed to capitalize on it when they had virtually no competition.
Thoughts?
 

Sentenza

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On one hand part of it was intentional, in the sense that in several circumstances Valve *purposefully* backed off from their chance to tight their grip on PC gaming to avoid accusations of taking a monopolistic role.
Even the way they deliberately chose to allow third party key resellers and unlimited generation of serial keys for the developers was absolutely "by design". or the way they encourage developers to go on as many platforms as they want.

That said, I do think they could have done more with their role of "gatekeepers of PC gaming", like funding development of interesting independent titles etc.
Also, I think they should be way more strict about how titles are published on their platform. For instance, if you are a publisher releasing your game on Steam, you SHOULD NOT be allowed to impose your additional client running on top of their client.
 
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Topher

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Valve is the most relevant company when it comes to PC gaming, but "first party" doesn't really work on an open platform.

Microsoft is gaining huge ground with game pass for PC.

They are? How so? We don't have Game Pass for PC numbers and MS games on Steam are still selling quite well. If I had to guess, I'd say the vast majority of Game Pass subscribers are on Xbox consoles.
 
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GuinGuin

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I'm sure Gabe cries himself to sleep every night...

...on top of a mountain of solid gold.

Yeah that is part of their problem. He seems happy enough to walk barefoot in New Zealand and doesn't seem to really care much if at all about making games.
How is Valve refusing to use their mountains of cash to moneyhat games and studios a bad thing?

It isn't necessarily except that all the money Steam makes isn't being put back into gaming though funding games it just goes into the coffers of Valve.
 
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ACESHIGH

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Yeah... if anything i would love them to release quality games that push HW on PC from time to time. But they are really lazy on the game development front.
 
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Hari Seldon

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They had plenty of competition back then namely from WoW which pretty much owned all of pc gamers from 2005-2010ish.
 

GuinGuin

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Valve is the most relevant company when it comes to PC gaming, but "first party" doesn't really work on an open platform.



They are? How so? We don't have Game Pass for PC numbers and MS games on Steam are still selling quite well. If I had to guess, I'd say the vast majority of Game Pass subscribers are on Xbox consoles.

PC is an open platform but for the last 15 years or so Steam is basically synonymous with PC gaming. I don't think that will be the case in another 10 years.
 
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Topher

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PC is an open platform but for the last 15 years or so Steam is basically synonymous with PC gaming. I don't think that will be the case in another 10 years.

I think they will. Sony is investing more in bringing games to Steam. Microsoft has committed every future release from their studios to Steam. No other company commands that much respect.
 

JohnnyFootball

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Im one of the few who is not a huge fan of Steam and hate the fact that so many gamers were completely OK with them being a monopoly.
To be transparent, I'm still bitter about Steam locking my entire library back for two weeks back in 2012 due to a mistake on their end. They thought that one of games was using a key bought from a stolen credit card. It took many emails back and forth with their customer service to get my account unlocked. I found it wrong that because ONE game in an account with close to 100 games had a questionable key that they had the right to lock my entire library down. That was too much power.

Since then I have moved almost exclusively to GOG and use PC Gamepass.
 
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Graciaus

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I use Steam every day and don't care about anything Valve has made. No one is eating into their profits they are the market leader by a mile.
 
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Tg89

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Valve...failed to capitalize? Lol.

I don't think you realize how much more money they make taking a cut off of everything on Steam vs. releasing their own games. Not to mention some of the games they do release do incredibly well with MTs.

They're a better platform creator than they are a game creator anyway. Their best games are other people's creations.
 
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Shubh_C63

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I actually respect Valve to not jump on that.
Have been saying this since HL ep 3 became a meme that Valve won't develop a new game if its not pushing new ideas or showcase on their hardware. There was no point in HL3 because Source engine was already a hit. Now for VR-source engine, they almost instantly made Half Life 3 VR.

do not quote dota and card game to me.
 

LazyParrot

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It isn't necessarily except that all the money Steam makes isn't being put back into gaming though funding games it just goes into the coffers of Valve.
Putting money into gaming doesn't have to mean directly funding games. You could also easily argue that they're doing plenty for gaming just by virtue of maintaining and continuously improving Steam and splurging on the odd side project from time to time. If they really did just coast along these past 15 years like some people claim the platform would be a hell of a lot worse than it is right now, that's for sure.

I'd much prefer it if the people running the storefronts concentrated on that and stayed out of game funding and development for the most part.
 
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GuinGuin

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Valve...failed to capitalize? Lol.

I don't think you realize how much more money they make taking a cut off of everything on Steam vs. releasing their own games. Not to mention some of the games they do release do incredibly well with MTs.

They're a better platform creator than they are a game creator anyway. Their best games are other people's creations.

Epic is funding TONS of new games from top tier devs for their platform. They will absolutely gain market share from Steam and Valve really doesn't seem to care.
 
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I think they will. Sony is investing more in bringing games to Steam. Microsoft has committed every future release from their studios to Steam. No other company commands that much respect.
Steam is going to be a minor player in the gaming space. I fully expect Epic to eat. It’s already bigger than gaming. They are growing at a crazy pace, buying companies left and right. Sony is porting their games to pc. To eventually offer PS Now downloading capabilities. GamePass, is gonna gamepass.

You heard it here first. Facebook will buy Steam in 5 years. After they overbid Google and Amazon.
 

MiguelItUp

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Valve had so many opportunities to be a lot of things, honestly. There are moments where it felt like they could've done anything they wanted and succeeded at multiple times. But they didn't, because they chose not to. Why? Who knows! But they're still successful and doing incredibly well.

I've always loved Valve and Steam. I just really, really, really want Valve to regularly/semi-regularly develop games again.
 

GuinGuin

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I use Steam every day and don't care about anything Valve has made. No one is eating into their profits they are the market leader by a mile.

You are talking about the present. The future I think will be very different. Epic and Microsoft are spending billions to capture market share while Valve does almost nothing to defend their current position.
 

intbal

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It might be illuminating for gamers to read up on Valve. Specifically, how the company works.
Company Structure

But I think the most important aspect of Valve is this (now outdated) bit of information at the beginning of their wiki:

"By 2012, Valve employed around 250 people and was reportedly worth over US$3 billion, making it the most profitable company per employee in the United States."

They are far more profitable a decade later. So where is the incentive for this small number of employees to do... anything? Just sit around engaging in hobby research. That's certainly what I would do. Even if the company slowly starts falling behind, so what? Those people are very rich.
 
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Tg89

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Epic is funding TONS of new games from top tier devs for their platform. They will absolutely gain market share from Steam and Valve really doesn't seem to care.
The space is also growing. Epic is playing catch up, they have to do that...it's the same reason Microsoft is throwing money at studios, that's what you have to do when you're trailing the leader. You don't throw money around like that when you're already comfortably the leader.
 
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Graciaus

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You are talking about the present. The future I think will be very different. Epic and Microsoft are spending billions to capture market share while Valve does almost nothing to defend their current position.
Epics sales are horrible and that will likely never change.

Anything Microsoft has ever tried on pc has failed for good reasons. Ditching their store and putting games on steam is the best decision they have ever made. Finding a way to tie gamepass directly into steam would be ideal.

The future isn't going to look any different. If anything it'll be better for Steam.
 

GuinGuin

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It might be illuminating for gamers to read up on Valve. Specifically, how the company works.
Company Structure

But I think the most important aspect of Valve is this (now outdated) bit of information at the beginning of their wiki:

"By 2012, Valve employed around 250 people and was reportedly worth over US$3 billion, making it the most profitable company per employee in the United States."

They are far more profitable a decade later. So where is the incentive for this small number of employees to do... anything? Just sit around engaging in hobby research. That's certainly what I would do. Even if the company slowly starts falling behind, so what? Those people are very rich.

To build a legacy? To make a company that lasts? To shape the future of gaming in a way they see as better than what the competition are offering?
 

Ezquimacore

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Steam is perfectly fine where they are, just install steamOS and that's your first party steam machine for whatever reason.
 
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Sentenza

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Wouldn't Microsoft be the first party on PC if you're playing on their OS?
I'm not sure why this argument is thrown around so often.
You aren't paying MS a cent to buy or play games on Windows.

Well, unless you are either
1) using Gamepass
2) buying from the Windows Store
3) buying MS games on other storefronts like Steam

of course.
 
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theclaw135

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Most of Valve's side projects were red herrings. SteamOS, Steam Machines, and everything, didn't particularly aim to monopolize the market.

The activation key system already cemented their reign. The vast majority of PC games today require Steam.
Games that can only activate on Steam, are still dependent on Steam no matter how or where they're sold.
 
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Beelzebubs

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I'm not sure why this argument is thrown around so often.
You aren't paying MS a cent to buy or play games on Windows.

Well, unless you are either
1) using Gamepass
2) buying from the Windows Store
3) buying MS games on other storefronts like Steam

of course.
We're paying with all of our data being sold to people :p
 
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Guilty_AI

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To build a legacy? To make a company that lasts? To shape the future of gaming in a way they see as better than what the competition are offering?
They seem to be doing very much that though. One of the few companies that dared to release a full-fledge triple A experience with a famous IP for VR. Also investing on making top quality VR equipment.
Then there are also their investments on linux gaming, which is one of the few life-lines against a possible MS monopoly in the PC space.
There was how they built an entire market infra-structure that allowed independent developers to flourish on the pc space.
The market today, even on consoles, would be very different without their work.

Overall, i think you just aren't/weren't paying attention or only started to care after everything already happened.
 
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Well it'd surely be entertaining to see Valve release press statements every few days or so to state how many PCs have been sold, how the competition (PowerPC) is more consumer unfriendly than them, or which publisher they paid big money to keep their next game from other platforms.
 

Elysion

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Since Valve is a privately owned company, similar to a mom-and-pop store, there is no pressure from shareholders to constantly grow their business. They can basically do whatever they want.

I‘m pretty sure that if Valve was a joint-stock corporation like Sony, Nintendo or MS, we would all be waiting for the release of Half-Life 7 this holiday.
 

GuinGuin

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They seem to be doing very much that though. One of the few companies that dared to release a full-fledge triple A experience with a famous IP for VR. Also investing on making top quality VR equipment.
Then there are also their investments on linux gaming, which is one of the few life-lines against a possible MS monopoly in the PC space.
There was how they built an entire market infra-structure that allowed independent developers to flourish on the pc space.
The market today, even on consoles, would be very different without their work.

Overall, i think you just aren't/weren't paying attention or only started to care after everything already happened.

One VR game isn't going to make or break VR. If they were actually serious about it they would have 10 top tier VR games out by now.
 

Topher

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I'm not sure why this argument is thrown around so often.
You aren't paying MS a cent to buy or play games on Windows.

Well, unless you are either
1) using Gamepass
2) buying from the Windows Store
3) buying MS games on other storefronts like Steam

of course.

And in the case of number 3, Microsoft is actually third party. On Steam, only Valve can really be considered first party. It is all about who owns the ecosystem. And since, on PC, in general, there isn't a single ecosystem there is no one company that can be considered "first party".

Steam is going to be a minor player in the gaming space. I fully expect Epic to eat. It’s already bigger than gaming. They are growing at a crazy pace, buying companies left and right. Sony is porting their games to pc. To eventually offer PS Now downloading capabilities. GamePass, is gonna gamepass.

You heard it here first. Facebook will buy Steam in 5 years. After they overbid Google and Amazon.

Anything could happen if Gabe Newell decides to sell his company. But I think there would have to be some drastic changes for Steam to become a "minor player". Right now, no other company is as identifiable when it comes to PC gaming as Valve.
 

Guilty_AI

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One VR game isn't going to make or break VR. If they were actually serious about it they would have 10 top tier VR games out by now.
That "just" one game helped double VR sales with just its announcement. They also actively advertise VR games on their front page.
 
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GuinGuin

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That "just" one game helped double VR sales with just its announcement. They also actively advertise VR games on their front page.

And yet even Facebook is doing more to actively create and fund VR games. If Valve cared about VR gaming they wouldn't let that sleezeball company take the lead in the VR space.
 

GuinGuin

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How do you be first party for an open platform?

Can people stop making this comment? I put it in quotes for a reason. By first party I mean the defacto company that not only controls the space but also actively funds and steers the direction of gaming on that platform.
 

Guilty_AI

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And yet even Facebook is doing more to actively create and fund VR games. If Valve cared about VR gaming they wouldn't let that sleezeball company take the lead in the VR space.
Just because other company also invests on something doesn't mean they themselves don't also have their own strategy.
They invest on VR, they're also helping it grow, those are facts.
 

Shai-Tan

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What’s the benefit? They became absurdly rich with transaction fees from owning the platform
 

Amiga

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on PC it's about the users committed to the Steam service. not about the PC platform. the danger for Valve is losing users to Games on Windows/Epic and others. more big publishers will exclusively push their own platform like origin. younger PC users may get used to signing up to several PC stores.

Steam are in a Yahoo/Myspace situation right now. the will only realize the problem after it's too late.
 

CuNi

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Im one of the few who is not a huge fan of Steam and hate the fact that so many gamers were completely OK with them being a monopoly.
To be transparent, I'm still bitter about Steam locking my entire library back for two weeks back in 2012 due to a mistake on their end. They thought that one of games was using a key bought from a stolen credit card. It took many emails back and forth with their customer service to get my account unlocked. I found it wrong that because ONE game in an account with close to 100 games had a questionable key that they had the right to lock my entire library down. That was too much power.

Since then I have moved almost exclusively to GOG and use PC Gamepass.

Sucks to hear it. I think they changed their stance on this tho. Like I used to buy keys off of shady sites when I was in uni and didn't have the money for full price games etc. Just recently they revoked my Factorio key after.. What 6 years or so? All I got was a lil notification like when you get steam inventory items that said a game was removed from my account. That was it. No repercussions, no locked account no nothing.

@On topic.
I am one huge fan of valve and steam. Not only do I love their games, i also like steam as a storefront very much. It has features that no other storefront has and a immensely bigger game library. I even purposefully only buy on steam because I like to have 1 account with all my games. I know this is not how everyone else sees it and I'm glad there are other storefronts that cater to other people. But I prefer steam and I nearly exclusively buy on steam. If a game does not release on steam then I am most likely not going to buy it on pc, or if it's releasing later, I don't mind waiting a year or so for it to come to steam.
 
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