Windows 8 Store Rebuttal? Steam Expands Beyond Gaming

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Has the super controversial Windows 8 store driven Valve to launch an ‘app store’ counter-attack? Valve announced today via press release that Steam will introducing a host of new software items that are outside the realm of gaming starting September 5. Just a bit over a month before the launch of the Windows 8 store.

While no specific titles have been listed just yet, it seems likely that Steam could be developing some adaption of its own ‘app store’ in a similar fashion to that of Apple and Google . The announcement invites developers to submit their software titles to Steam through their Greenlight feature, a tool which allows for the submission of titles in which users can support or disapprove of.

The new software additions will be provided in the same fashion as Steam’s current gaming software, explains the release. That means automatic updates, super simple downloading, and easy utilization. It certainly sounds pretty convenient, and it comes just after Gabe Newell (Valve’s CEO) spoke out openly against the upcoming Windows 8 (and announced that Steam will be developing for Linux users). In case you’re not aware of the controversy, Microsoft will essentially be challenging the entire app and software market with a questionable system of their own known as the Windows 8 store.

Why Valve May Want to Conquer the Windows 8 Store

To start, it’s important to understand the monetary system behind the new operating system. Windows 8 will be the cheapest operating system released by Microsoft to date, a move that was likely chosen to increase initial scales and rely on further income from micro-transactions (think free to play games or MMOs without a subscription fee). Then comes the Windows 8 store itself. It actually doesn’t even allow anyone to develop a real PC game within its built-in store, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

In a nutshell, Microsoft really wants to make you pay for just about everything. Three separate stores within the Windows 8 interface will sell you apps for videos, music, and games. You’re essentially purchasing a store to go along with your OS. If you are a gamer and linked in to XBOX Live or Windows Live, your credits are immediately imported to the store where it aggressively pushes you to make small purchases through the Metro Music player, the app shop, and more.

You could say the Windows 8 store interface is somewhat like Steam if Steam was run by a used car salesman that lived with you. And if Steam didn’t actually sell any real video games.

Further bringing value to Gabe’s negative wording on Windows 8, the platform doesn’t even allow for you to purchase any actual PC games. Instead, it pushes for apps like ‘Angry Birds’ and throws PC game devs under the bus. Vigorously enforced guidelines disallow for any ‘apps’ that take longer than 2 seconds to load, have any form of violence, humans rights violations, use of weapons, and many more absurd guidelines. Basically, no actual PC games.

Now, let’s look at Gabe’s quote on the subject:

 ”I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.”

It probably makes a lot more sense with the context explained. Now, Gabe may be launching his own alternative to the Windows 8 store behemoth. As long as Steam continues to push PC games as its major source of commerce, it would be a victory for PC gaming and the expansion of the industry.


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