Valve is preparing to bring it’s legendary Steam Gaming system to a Smartphone – Android or Apple iOS – near you. Over many years Steam has built up an enormous following of dedicated gamers by offering an easy to use system that streamlines the gaming experience, providing easy gaming at discount prices. Now with the open beta program taking applications Steam is preparing to revolutionize mobile gaming. Allowing your Steam experience to cross all boundaries.
Steam has over the years built a strong brand name amongst PC gamers. Applying the extremely successful PC online game distribution model to smartphones the new Steam Mobile App brings the Steam game store, chat functions, friend lists along with news and reviews. Sensibly Steam Mobile uses the same log in as your PC account, leveraging the existing user base onto the mobile platform and giving its users another portal into their online gaming lives.
Existing Steam users can use their current log in allowing all of your personal details, all of your friends and contacts to be available straight away. Steam Chat client is banking on the fact that gaming has become a social activity, especially mutli-player games. Best of all these are people you have something in common with that you may not have met otherwise. These aren’t just faceless names, but instead they are compadres that you have gone to war with, you’ve been in the trenches together. The news aspect of Steam Mobile brings the latest news and reviews. Most handy is the ability to reference this information as your shopping, turning the reviews into a very useful kind of meta data. The online store resembles all other mobile app stores but with Steams visuals and style over the top.
Once Steam Mobile leaves beta expect the same attention grabbing bundle packs, the same game portability, the same game patch management and the same community minded gaming. For those of us who upgrade their phones annually this may be the perfect solution, upgrade your phone, install the Steam Mobile App and the games you have invested your hard earned cash in – and time – are instantly available from your library in the clouds.
“The Steam app comes from many direct requests from our customers,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “Seeing which of your friends are online and playing a game, sending quick messages, looking at screenshots for an upcoming game, or catching a sale – these are all features customers have requested. Mobile is changing way people interact, play games and consume media, and the Steam app is part of our commitment to meet customer demands and expand the service functionality of Steam to make it richer and more accessible for everyone.”
For the uninitiated Steam is Valve’s all conquering online game distribution service. Starting in 2002 as a platform for installing Counterstrike 1.6 and managing the many updates that this game spawned, Valve quickly saw Steams potential. With their 10th birthday looming Steam has pwned all other gaming services with an estimated 70% of the online gaming business now owned by Steam. With over 40 million PC users – 5 million concurrent users – and over 1500 games available there are no doubts that Steam is the benchmark game distribution service on the web.
Steam has continued to grow over the years with the Steam client available on the PC, Mac OS X, PlayStation 3, and now Apple iOS and Android. While there has been a Steam client – Gears – for the iPhone available for a while, it was only a very basic client that offered information access and some of the social aspects of Steam.
Possibly the greatest benefit of Steam is the library facility. You only ever buy a game once on Steam, after purchasing your game it is put into your library in the clouds forever. If you upgrade your PC or even reformat Windows you simply re-install Steam and your library is there to re-install. Steam can even keep your saved games safe from the horrors of a Windows re-install if you have used their backup facility before dong the re-install.
The installation process is also much less painful than the shop bought games. As Steam handles the digital copyright you don’t have to put up with the numerous copy protection system that comes with today’s DVD installs. This is just the tip of the ice-berg, Valve have spent years turning Steam into the premier online game distribution network. It embraces the community spirit of online gaming, while still keeping to its original mantra, making gaming easy. There is even a gift certificate that allows you to purchase a games for your Steam buddies.
Steam is heading to a Smartphone near you. The beta program for Steam Mobile is taking applications now, available from the Android and Apple App Stores. Of course this won’t let you play PC games on your mobile phone but it will change the mobile gaming ecosystem. Gaming on the go is about to become a whole lot less annoying, with a legendary digital distribution system that is Steam.