Valve's Steam expands beyond games to take on app stores

The popular PC gaming service will offer other types of software starting next month

Valve's Steam service isn't just for gamers anymore. Starting Sept. 5, the popular PC gaming service will offer other types of software for sale such as creativity and productivity tools.

Valve hasn't announced any specific applications yet, but possible categories could include audio production, photo editing, accounting and utilities, as the Steam Android app accidentally revealed last month. In addition to software that's hand-picked by Valve, developers will be able to submit their applications for approval through Steam Greenlight, a crowdsourced approval process.

Valve says many of the launch titles will have the same features as Steam's gaming library, including automatic updating and cloud saves. Steam also allows gamers to re-download their libraries onto any computer, so I assume that'll apply to non-gaming applications as well.

To put all of this another way: Valve is turning Steam into a full-blown app store. In that sense, it's going to be a direct competitor to the Windows Store in Windows 8, and possibly to the Mac App Store. (Valve hasn't said which platforms it will support for non-gaming software.)

The difference, potentially, is support for a broader range of operating systems. Steam currently works on Windows PCs running XP or later, whereas the Windows Store will only be available for Windows 8. Steams also works on Macs running Leopard or later, compared to Snow Leopard or later for the Mac App Store.

And consider this: Some Steam games support both Windows and Mac, and your copy of the software can be installed on both platforms. If the same is true for non-gaming apps, Steam could become a powerful cross-platform app store.

Of course, all of this is speculation until Steam announces more details. But given the success Valve has enjoyed in the PC games market, its move into general applications could be very interesting.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?