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Steam Should Be a Seperate Company? 73

simoniker writes "As part of a larger in-depth interview over at Gamasutra, 3D Realms' Scott Miller has called for Valve's Steam digital distribution service to spin off as a separate company, suggesting: 'I would rather there emerge a leader in the market that isn't associated with a game company.' He further adds: 'I'm not a big fan of using Steam, because I'm not a fan of a strong competitor of ours having access to our download stats and revenue totals. I'd rather keep that private. Not only that, but we're lining their pockets as well.'"
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Steam Should Be a Seperate Company?

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  • Well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:30PM (#17038096)
    the solution is simple: release Duke Nukem Forever with its own game download service!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rwven ( 663186 )
      Well, the first step in that process would be to release Duke Nukem Forever. :-P

      Also, with as delayed as it's been, is it really wise to start building a distribution architecture this late in the game? we really want another steam? Yeah it works fine now but does anyone remember the hades that people had with it in its early days?
  • by jfclavette ( 961511 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:31PM (#17038112)
    What is this guy arguing for ? "Our competitors offer a service we don't. We could 'license it', but then they profit from it." Well, duh.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by notthe9 ( 800486 )
      From the summary, it seems the argument made is not about Valve getting their money, but rather Valve getting their information.
    • by Nos. ( 179609 ) <> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:53PM (#17038492) Homepage
      While that's true, he does make a valid point. If Steam doesn't separate from Valve, they may not see as many publishing opportunities. If users like the distribution method (and I think most do ... I certainly do), then there is a need for it. As he said, other startups are working on similar products, Steam could become the loser in all of this, if an independent, but similar product is available from a third party, instead of a competitor.
      • by Haeleth ( 414428 )

        Steam could become the loser in all of this, if an independent, but similar product is available from a third party, instead of a competitor.

        I'm not sure that's really a problem, though, except maybe for Valve. Steam going independent might make Steam win, but competition in the market would mean that I would win.

        Which company creates the best product is irrelevant -- I've had good experiences with Steam, but if someone else can produce something better, something that encourages more innovation from indep

        • by Nos. ( 179609 )
          That's exactly my point. If Steam wants to succeed, sticking with Valve is probably the wrong thing to do. However, since Valve currently owns Steam, the question is, what does Valve want to do. If they really want Steam to succeed, it should be split off. It may continue to succeed anyways, but I think this is unlikely in the long run.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I remember there also being a online distribution system that had the possibility of buying Prey online (I think it was even offered at closing of the demo of Prey), with a service which name eludes me now: Since the name was new, I wouldn't be too surprised if 3DRealms had their own system set up, failed miserably, and are now a bit sour about it.

      I agree that lining the pockets of your competitor isn't the smartest thing to do, but nor is -not- being able to properly distribute your content online.

      • I remember there also being a online distribution system that had the possibility of buying Prey online (I think it was even offered at closing of the demo of Prey), with a service which name eludes me now:

        Yep - it was called Triton, and it recently went belly-up in a spectacular manner [].
        • Ahyes, thanks for that: Doesn't seems so strange now I couldn't find any reference to it anymore on any of the developer's sites :)

          And then to think I considered to buy it through Triton as Steam really did a topnotch job (imo), and I was curious if any of the competitors were able to match/beat it... I am now taking a little time to hug my hardcopy if you don't mind ;-)

          From the article it seems that 3DRealms didn't have any direct stakes in it (the company responsible for Triton), so my assertion of th
          • One cool part about digital copies, is that you don't have to have the CD, to play. THAT is amazingly convienent. :) Though, Stardock has something similiar, as well.
          • Off topic: Are you still working on Minerva at the moment, or any new projects you're working on?

            Still most definitely working on MINERVA - have a look at my development blog thingy [] for information. Such as, HDR screenshots! []

      • I'm still not entirely convinced that Valve is their competitor. These are games. A business might decide they only need one accounting software package, that they will only use one office suite, or that a single OS will be supported. There are lots of applications that you would only want one of. Games don't follow that model (for the most part) because they are entertainment.

        I didn't consider Spider-Man, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings competition. I considered them all to be entertaining movies.
        • by DrSkwid ( 118965 )
          Hmm I can afford a video game, which one shall I buy

          Doom 2 looks good, hmm but so does HL2

          competition, see?

  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:31PM (#17038116)
    Then they can declare war on Vapour.
  • sepArate (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    SepArate not sepErate, numbnuts!
  • Really, if you don't like it, provide your own solution.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      QQ? What the fuck is that supposed to mean? I'm guessing it's another one of those pre-pubescent, emo-fag, counter-strike acronyms because today's teenage generation isn't capable of typing properly.
      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )
        Actually it means "cry more, nub"

        See it? Look at the two q's, see the lines?

        Those are tears.
  • Even if Steam is spun-off, which is just a rubber stamp matter, it's still going to be run by the same people at Valve. Valve would be crazy to sell off Steam at such an early stage just to appease other development companies.
    • I don't really care if steam is spun off. All I want is a comprehensive download service that will let me legally obtain any game I want. Granted I'm being unreasonable, but why shouldn't I dream?
    • by iainl ( 136759 )
      Steam would benefit from being spun off, because companies like 3D Realms, that want a download solution, but don't want Valve execs having that data, would pay Steam money to use it.

      Valve being paid money because they own a share of Steam is one concern, but it's the data he really sounds worried about.
    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      I don't think 3d Realms would care if Steam was a wholly owned subsidiary of Valve as long as they didn't freely exchange more data with Valve than they do with other companies offering games on the service so Valve cannot see the stats for e.g. Prey's downloads or the feedback from a feedback system they might use in a future game (like Valve did with HL2Ep1).
  • What would be the point? I am sure Valve would stay as the primary holder of this new company, so while you wouldn't be writing a check to Valve at the end of the month, they will still be getting all your money.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But control would be separate, so the spin off would do things in its own interest and not valves(else law suits would ensue).
  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:39PM (#17038260) Homepage Journal
    Think about it.. As the gentleman said, the reason they don't use Steam is that it is run by a competitor. Lots of other companies probably feel the same way.

    By spinning Steam, Valve opens up the revenue stream that is their competition. The new company can be a lot more profitable that way. If more companies jump on Steam, it could easily go from 'a leader in digital distribution' in marketing literature to 'Hunh? You don't have Steam? Noob, what the hell is wrong with you?' to the public.
    • Problem is, this would seem to be contrary to Valve's methodology. Opening it up means probably bringing on many new clients, with who knows what attached.

      The way Steam is now, it does exactly what Valve wants it to do and no one else is breathing down their neck. Valve seems to be pretty self contained, make their own schedules, and release a product when it's done (as evident by the requisite one year delay for every release...). I doubt they'd want to be involved with anyone that would compromise thei
    • Unless someone wants to buy steam for a insane boatload of cash, it doesn't seem reasonable that Valve should sell steam.

      First, spinning Steam onto a subsidiary isn't going to garner any more cash from other developers/distributors. The money still ends up in the same pockets, and Valve's games would still get preferential treatment.

      Second, if they sold Steam they would probably have to pay the costs their clients are paying to have their games on it.

      Third, if they sold Steam and it gains popularity by
      • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @07:24PM (#17041794) Journal
        I don't think you get it. If they sold or spun off Steam, they wouldn't get preferential treatment because they no longer would own it. Steam/Valve is already going the extra mile to attract new biz, as it seems they are more interested in becoming a gaming platform that just selling their own games. (PopCap games for instance)

        Second, yes they would pay the same costs as others to be on Steam, which is still much less than printing up boxes and disks. It allows them to create lower volume games, and take more risks. Your first and second reasons also contridict each other.

        Your third point contradicts your first point and misses the point. If they spun off Steam, then Valve itself could focus on nothing but the games, would be 1/3rd the size, and would still be profitable. Of course you are cutting the profits in half, you are dividing the company in half. But the end result could be more profit for Steam because it would no longer be limited to just Valve games.

        The main point you are missing is that Steam would become the defacto standard for distribution, something they would have earned. (hell, I would buy stock if they went public) Most of the games I have purchased over the last two years have been on Steam because I like the platform, the ease of install and maintenance, the PRICE, and their version of "DRM" is not draconian. Yes, you can pirate it, but not multiplayer, and I have no issue with them making money. Making money means more good games and Steam makes it easier (and cheaper) to do so.

        I can play on multiple computers, just not at the same time (similar to a "book license".) I no longer have to go to GamePlanet to get updates (holy shit, I always hated that). Cheating is minimized, I can play demos, download trailers, etc. all from a single interface. The only ads are for other Steam products, which I am actually interested in.

        Steam works because it isn't a monthly fee and you get a lot for your money. It isn't perfect, but it is reasonable, works 99% of the time, is easy to use and has good games. Now, if they fuck it up and start making the rules hard to get along with, or their service gets bad or the games suck, then someone else will come up with something different. Until then, I am pretty happy as a customer and don't mind the small compromises.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by PingSpike ( 947548 )
      Is that really good for valve though?

      Steam was a huge risk, and had a rocky start. Valve basically leveraged the power of its Half Life franchise to semi-force market adoption of steam. A lesser title just plain couldn't have accomplished that. Now that all the risk as paid off you've got other publishers, that didn't have to risk anything, crying that they aren't getting the benefits.

      Valve is 3D Realms competitor...but that goes the other way too. They're Valve's competitor as well. Why *should* they turn
  • At last, Garry's Mod 10 is out on Steam for $10 (what's 1 cent when the exchange rate is so heavily in favour of Pounds Stirling. Great Britain FTW!)
    • by Thansal ( 999464 )
      On a compleatly offtopic note:
      Are peopel THAT attached to GMod?

      I know you can do some nifty thigns with it (and aparently that list of nifty things has increased ALOT since I last used it), but $10 for a playground?

      I would rather pay $10 for sometihng that had some amount of game in it (now if you combined source forts and GMod, I would be a happy camper, and probably shell out alot more then $10)
      • I know GMod 9(which is still free) is pretty neat, and if I wanted to make a game with the Source engine I'd probably use GMod 10 as a "launching pad" due to its massive scriptability, although as is I don't have a need for GMod 10.
  • by Thansal ( 999464 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:50PM (#17038444)
    The reason why Steam is popular is because it is tied in with a few KEY products (CS, and to a lesser extent HL2) that get people to regularly use the service, and be comfterable with it.

    There ARE other companies out there that will sell you digital copies of games (Direct2Drive from IGN, Gamestop sells them, XBoxLive Arcade, and gametap is sorta in there). However they don't have a service that gives you a plat form for a way of accessign your content, a chat interface, and a server browser exept for XBLA (well, I dono, does gametap?).

    I don't expect to see that many A Line games showing up as first runs on Steam because it is feedign the "competitor", however we are seeing alot of "indy" games like Darwinia showing up on Steam at (or shortly after) launch.
    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      I don't expect to see that many A Line games showing up as first runs on Steam because it is feedign the "competitor"...

      I dunno. Call of Duty 2 is on there now, and that's a pretty big game. I suppose that's not exactly first run now, but it's getting a lot closer. They've been expanding their "stable" of games at a pretty good clip recently.

  • by GrBear ( 63712 )
    You mean they have no choice but to use Steam? Seriously, this is laughable.. and hardly "News".
  • by PingSpike ( 947548 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @04:04PM (#17038700)
    Duke Nukem Forever must actually be getting close to release for real this time. He's already starting making excuses for its impending failure!
  • Like it or not, I'd wager that we'll be seeing more companies using technology that will either be like Steam, or will be Steam or a variant/offshoot of.. Right now it's a game deployment platform, but why would M$ not salivate over being able to offer Office xx - on a platform THEY control, you run it WHEN they want you to run it, and they can ship updates to you as they see fit. DRM. Anti-piracy.

    Free-download and they can to technology previews, or even offer 30 day limited free-trials that expire, and
    • by Elshar ( 232380 )
      I know noone will ever read this. But maybe you will if you happen to look in your profile.. But Microsoft DOES do preview/demo versions of their software that is time-limited. I think most of it is limited to 180 days, but I could've swore I saw something on there for longer (Like a year, iirc).

      I don't think they've been doing it for too long now. I know for the past year, but not sure how much before that.
  • He's absolutely right about episodic content and competitor-owned content delivery. Steam serves its purpose, granted; but if you were a professional athlete and you had a shoe, should the shoe manufacturer collect a royalty from the team you play for everytime you sink a basket or hit a home-run?

    On episodic content, if the industry hasn't even matured to the point of being able to have some standardization of how games are developed, polished, and delivered(think MLA format)then I can't see episodic cont
  • I'm sure 3D Realms would love to see Steam hived off into another company, but what's in it for Valve? Also, I don't see much difference between lining Valve's pockets or doing the same for any other distributor. Is giving money to VU or EA that much better, even supposing they move to online distribution? Especially since they're gonna take a bigger bite than Valve.

    Personally, I think Steam will soon be in a position similar to iTunes, and this is what worries 3D Realms. Companies will have to start c

    • > what's in it for Valve?

      Stockholder value, as an independent Stem would get more customers, increasing the total profit. Not for Valve, but for Valves stockholders.
  • Steam should be.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by matt me ( 850665 )
    1. Less sluggish
    2. Not spam you with adverts for games
    3. Consume less disk space
    4. Allow you to trade games / sell your account
    5. not be a prequisite to playing a game
    6. not hog memory
    7. be less ugly -eg blend in to native widgets
    8. be ported to *nix
    9. not use internet explorer
    10. not download so much shit
    • by bealzabobs_youruncle ( 971430 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:25PM (#17039990)
      1. Less sluggish

      Agreed to a point, but how much bandwidth can they really dedicate to each new release.

      2. Not spam you with adverts for games

      You can turn this off in options.

      3. Consume less disk space

      STEAM itself isn't that big, the games are.

      4. Allow you to trade games / sell your account

      Why? Most games have a license that precludes this, STEAM just has an enforcement mechanism built in.

      5. not be a prequisite to playing a game

      Kind of the whole point of STEAM.

      6. not hog memory

      Come on now, how much memory does STEAM really eat?

      7. be less ugly -eg blend in to native widgets


      8. be ported to *nix

      Why? Porting is expensive, requires support and *nix doesn't have the marketshare to make it worth while. I'd love some Half Life2 under OS X, but I understand why they don't bother.

      9. not use internet explorer

      Who cares?

      10. not download so much shit

      Doesn't download anything you don't request.

      Have you actually used STEAM or are you just repeating stuff you have read elsewhere?

      • 4. Don't be complacent, demand fair use for what you paid for.
      • 10. not download so much shit

        Doesn't download anything you don't request.

        Have you actually used STEAM or are you just repeating stuff you have read elsewhere?

        Now then. I play HL2 etc occasionally, and the only thing that really bugs me about Steam is that it seems like whenever I play HL2, Steam has to 'update' my game, which involves 10 minutes of waiting/dicking around while it downloads some more stuff.

        It worked fine the last time I played, so why can't I just play the damn game? I for one would like a "don't download any more crap, I just want to play the game" button.

        • I for one would like a "don't download any more crap, I just want to play the game" button.

          I'm not in Windows right now, but right-click on Half-Life 2 and select 'do not automatically update game', or something like that? ;-)
          • I for one would like a "don't download any more crap, I just want to play the game" button.

            I'm not in Windows right now, but right-click on Half-Life 2 and select 'do not automatically update game', or something like that? ;-)

            I got all excited then, and went to try it. But currently I'm waiting for the 'Updating Steam platform' dialog to go away before I can try it out...43% complete so far :-(

      • by Mike_ya ( 911105 )
        Why cant you sell your account?

        Individual gives you cash, you change the account email address to his and give him the login.

        Not being able to trade games is a disadvantage to steam, but IMHO it is outweighed by the advantages.
        • The only reason I can think of for not enabling games to be swapped between accounts is the cost. There is bound to be a lot of frauds that will eat up customer service hours. I haven't heard anyone getting banned for buying an account from someone and using it. The bad thing is you have to buy games on different accounts if you plan to sell them one by one.

          I quite like Steam and would consider it the best online distribution system for noobs. The best one is of course pirated FTP's or Torrent's. I've on
    • Steam is far from perfect and still has plenty of room for improvement. But a lot of issues with it I just don't see.

      1) I'll agree it could probably be a bit faster, but I never thought about it being slow until now. It doesn't really seem that bad.

      2) As has been mentioned, that can be turned off. And the off switch actually works for this one.

      3) I'm not sure what you mean on disk space. My wife's machine has a 40GB, the smallest one can buy new these days, and steam + office + windows + other games still o
  • Nintendo is both a game delivery system (they make the consoles), and a game manufacturer (78 varieties of Mario, to start with). It hasn't hurt them at all, and game companies like Sega, Activision, Ubisoft, and EA are lining up to write and sell games for Nintendo consoles.

    Personally I think that Steam is a stroke of genius, much like iTunes - you can shop for and buy games online, and start playing them immediately, without having to go to the store and buy a physical CD.
  • Microsoft is bringing Live to the Windows platform shortly. It will be an all inclusive download service for games, HD TV Shows, music, and everything else out there. Games will hopefully have a lot of the same elements that their 360 counterparts will have. Achievements, episodic content, multiplayer invites through a standardized friends list, etc. Steam was the start of things to come, but it will be replaced by Live which will most likely come packaged with future versions of Windows. Valve is also work
  • Steam is doing pretty damn well. It wasn't until later on in Steam's life that Valve decided to open up to other developers/games for content distribution. So, while spinning off Steam as a complete business sounds like a good idea, it doesn't factor in the issue of "What if Steam goes belly-up?", or "How would Valve replace the revenue stream from Steam?"

    I suppose it's just Valve's decision on if they want to take the chance on having Steam tank, or if they can at least make the same amount of profit th
  • It's so much fun when you have your foot on the other guy's air hose.

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:19PM (#17043732)
    Zonk, it would reduce embarrassment if you spellchecked your work, especially the headlines.
  • by Chacham ( 981 )

    Shouldn't someone add a spellchecker to slashdot?
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      Shouldn't someone add a spellchecker to slashdot?

      There is, in the editing interface. I've used it on another site based on Slashcode. They just don't give a fuck.

  • "Well, this Digital Restriction Management System should not be held by that company, but by a different one".

    Well, sure, other game companies stupid enough to buy into that would profit from it, but the end result would be the same: Customer fucked.
  • Nothing like someone from a company as infamous as 3D realms trying to you business advice.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI