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.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

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.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?