Although Steam is currently the leader when it comes to PC gaming, the digital distribution platform will need to innovate to fend off competition. Recently, Microsoft announced a further step into the PC market via the Xbox Game Pass, which currently provides a subscription-based, all-you-can-play service for Xbox. This will be expanded to PC gamers - something that could make Steam's setup feel somewhat old-fashioned.
That's not the only rival that Steam faces, either. Although CD Projekt's Good Old Games offers a similar service, a number of publishers have their own platforms to be used for their games, with Blizzard's Battle.net, Ubisoft's Uplay and Fortnite developer Epic Games' launcher all providing exclusive alternatives. EA's Origin Access, meanwhile, offers up another library service similar to the Xbox Game Pass.
Valve has been making changes, of course. The company has acquired studio Campo Santo to work on new games directly, calling back to Valve's roots as a developer in its own right, and has also launched a website teasing top secret new games. Meanwhile, Valve has also been morphing how it deals with hardware, removing the Steam Machines section of its website.
Like it or loathe it, though, Steam has become known less for Valve's games or hardware and more for the larger platform. However, although once a phenomenal access point for gaming enthusiasts, criticism has been ramping up over Steam, particularly when it comes to the sheer volume of games that make it onto the system and the lack of quality control for both broken and offensive products. It's something that Valve has taken a laissez-faire approach to, although it has been stricter with adult-themed video games.
It's this lack of curation that has seen players and even some developers lose their satisfaction with the platform. As such, those alternative options like Origin Access and the Xbox Game Pass could look extremely tempting to gamers. Given how affordable both are, getting access to old libraries as well as new releases will be a no-brainer for many.
Exactly how Valve tries to combat this with Steam is another matter entirely. Although a Twitch competitor seems to be a focus of the company, something needs to be done with the general structure of Steam to truly future-proof it for stronger competitors. As such, Valve might want to look at how to make Steam a higher quality and more convenient option for players already growing tired of its flaws.
Source: The Motley Fool