Web 2.0 Case Study – STEAM

Posted: February 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

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   “Steam is a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications platform developed by Valve Corporation” –Wikipedia! (Also 2.0)

   If you have internet and are into PC video games, chances are likely you’ve heard of and have a Steam account.  If I were to simplify how steam works I could compare it to an App Store but solely for video games.  Steam is ever evolving and if one were to ask a Valve (Steam’s developers) fan boy what makes Steam so great is that they listen to the players.  The Steam forums are always active with both customers and developers shooting ideas back and forth on what would make the platform better.  

Steam takes primarily a one-to-one marketing strategy since when logging into your steam account (either through a web browser or the Steam Client) products are displayed to the customer.  On the front page is usually new releases and popular games that everyone who logs into Steam sees.  Further down the page and in specified places a customer can have access to suggested games based on currently owned games.  

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My landing page when logging into steam

   The process of purchasing games is incredibly simple.  As always you’ll need a trusty credit card and you will enter your information only once if you choose.  After that you simply click on a game you want, click purchase, and it immediately begins installing on your computer.  As I said, just like an App Store on a smartphone.  

   Why steam is so popular among gamers is because of the quantity and quality of games on steam.  There are currently 1882 games to choose from on steam, mostly ranging from $50 for triple A titles down to as low as $1 for indie games.  

And what kind of massive online program would be incomplete without some sort of socializing? Steam has user profiles for every person that signs up that can be completely open to the public, seen only by friends or even turned off altogether for those who want to hide their gaming habits.  

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   This is a friend of mine’s profile on steam.  It is not as all-inclusive as Facebook but Steam is not trying to be.  This is his gaming profile and as one can clearly see all the graphics on the profile cater to that specific hobby.  Working just like a social network, anyone he runs into in games can friend him from inside that game or online through a browser or the Steam client.  

   Sharing is literal on Steam.  You can purchase a game on Steam for the specific purpose of gifting.  Going through the very simple buying process as before you check off an option for a “gift” then you can either send the game to an email associated with a Steam account or directly to a friend already on your friends list on Steam.  Gaming show hosts (Yes they have those) even do giveaways on their streams to entice viewers, build a community and mostly to become more well liked.  

   I lied before about why gamers love Steam the most.  I said it was for the quantity and quality of the games.  That is just not true.  Its the PRICE!  What Steam does that physical gaming retailers like Gamestop can’t do is sales.  And Steam sales are legendary now in the gaming community.  Games that were $50 before have been known to drop down to $5.  Why do they do this? Well for one they make money through it.  Secondly they want to offer a service.  A great service.

   We’ve all heard of online piracy and how it is “killing” software sales.  Well… Valve doesn’t think so.  What the CEO says in that article is that the problem is a service issues, not pricing.  The pirates are offering a DRM free, instant download from anywhere onto any PC while the legal developer is charging an absurd amount of money, limiting who can download, where it can be downloaded, how many times it can be downloaded and installed on a computer.  Are you seeing the problem here? THIS is what Valve has fixed with steam and video games.  They offer a service that delivers video games instantly (download required of course) to anywhere, to any number of computers you own, as many times as you want, AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE.  And you know what… SURPRISE! It works! With 5 million+ active users of Steam every day and over 40 million accounts.  

   I really don’t need to comment on the effectiveness of their model when many others clearly do, their services are becoming better, faster, stronger everyday.  Clearly I think they are doing an amazing job for the video game business.  The only concern I have for Steam is that while it does have a very strong and dedicated userbase.  It is still a bit of a niche, Valve needs to expand its marketing towards what is called the “Casual” gamers.  These are the people who are playing Angry Birds and Temple Run on their Smartphones.  Steam has simple games like these that many would enjoy but are unaware of Steam because it is dominated by Hardcore Gamers.

Overall I love Steam and recommend it to any that have an interest in Gaming.  

 

 

…. Then again Valve may be taking my suggestion by releasing their own “Console”, The Steam Box

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We’ll just have to see what the future holds

~Tyler Tuttle

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