Steam (software)

Steam icon logo.svg
Steam in October 2017, showing the storefront page
Steam in October 2017, showing the storefront page
Developer(s)Valve Corporation
Initial releaseSeptember 12, 2003; 16 years ago (2003-09-12)
Stable releaseAPI v019, Package: 1568150115 (September 12, 2019; 1 day ago (2019-09-12))
Preview releaseAPI v019, Package: 1565918000 (August 15, 2019; 29 days ago (2019-08-15))
Available in28[1] languages
LicenseProprietary software
Alexa rankStore: 193 (August 2019)[2]
Community: 168 (August 2019)[3]

Steam is a video game digital distribution platform developed by Valve Corporation. It was launched in September 2003 as a way for Valve to provide automatic updates for their games, but eventually expanded to include games from third-party publishers. Steam offers digital rights management (DRM), matchmaking servers, video streaming, and social networking services. It also provides the user with installation and automatic updating of games, and community features such as friends lists and groups, cloud saving, and in-game voice and chat functionality.

The software provides a freely available application programming interface (API) called Steamworks, which developers can use to integrate many of Steam's functions into their products, including matchmaking, in-game achievements, microtransactions, and support for user-created content through Steam Workshop. Though initially developed for use on Microsoft Windows operating systems, versions for macOS and Linux were later released. Mobile apps were later released for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone in the 2010s. The platform also offers a small selection of other content, such as design software, game soundtracks, anime, and films.

The Steam platform is the largest digital distribution platform for PC gaming, estimated in 2013 to have 75% of the market space.[4] By 2017, users purchasing games through Steam totaled roughly US$4.3 billion, representing at least 18% of global PC game sales.[5] By 2019, the service had over a billion registered accounts with 90 million monthly active users. The success of the Steam platform has led to the development of a line of Steam Machine microconsoles, which include the SteamOS operating system and Steam Controllers, and the Steam VR platform.


Timeline of events
2002Announcement and beta release
2003Official release
2005First publisher partnership
2007Steam Community launched
2008Steamworks released
Matchmaking released
2009Steam Cloud
2010Mac OS X client released
Translation Server opened
2011Steam Workshop launched
2012Steam mobile apps released
Steam for Schools launched
Steam Greenlight launched
Big Picture Mode launched
Productivity software added to catalog
2013Linux client released
Family Sharing launched
2014In-Home Streaming launched
Steam Music launched
Discovery 1.0 update
2015Broadcast streaming launched
Steam Hardware/SteamOS
Steam Machines released
Movies/TV purchases/renting added to library
2016SteamVR launched
Discovery 2.0 update launched
2017Steam Direct launched launched
2019Remote Play launched
Steam Labs launched

Before implementing Steam, Valve Corporation had problems updating its online games, such as Counter-Strike; providing patches would result in most of the online user base disconnecting for several days. Valve decided to create a platform that would update games automatically and implement stronger anti-piracy and anti-cheat measures. Through user polls at the time of its announcement in 2002, Valve also recognized that at least 75% of their users had access to high-speed Internet connections, which would grow only with planned Internet expansion in the following years, and recognized that they could deliver game content faster to players than through retail channels.[6] Valve approached several companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo!, and RealNetworks to build a client with these features, but were declined.[7]

Steam's development began in 2002, with working names for the platform being "Grid" and "Gazelle".[8][9] It was publicly announced at the Game Developers Conference event on March 22, 2002, and released for beta testing the same day.[10][11] To demonstrate the ease of integrating Steam with a game, Relic Entertainment created a special version of Impossible Creatures.[12] Valve partnered with several companies, including AT&T, Acer, and GameSpy. The first mod released on the system was Day of Defeat.[13] In 2002, the president of Valve, Gabe Newell, said he was offering mod teams a game engine license and distribution over Steam for US$995.[13]

Between 80,000 and 300,000 players participated in the beta test before the client's official release on September 12, 2003.[13][14][8][15] The client and website choked under the strain of thousands of users simultaneously attempting to play the game.[16] At the time, Steam's primary function was streamlining the patch process common in online computer games, and was an optional component for all other games. In 2004, the World Opponent Network was shut down and replaced by Steam, with any online features of games that required it ceasing to work unless they converted over to Steam.[17]

Valve's Half-Life 2 was the first game to require installation of the Steam client to play, even for retail copies. This decision was met with concerns about software ownership, software requirements, and issues with overloaded servers demonstrated previously by the Counter-Strike rollout.[18] During this time users faced multiple issues attempting to play the game.[8][19][20]

Beginning in 2005, Valve began negotiating contracts with several third-party publishers to release their products, such as Rag Doll Kung Fu and Darwinia, on Steam.[21] Valve announced that Steam had become profitable because of some highly successful Valve games.[22] Although digital distribution could not yet match retail volume, profit margins for Valve and developers were far larger on Steam.[23] Larger publishers, such as id Software,[24] Eidos Interactive,[25] and Capcom,[26] began distributing their games on Steam in 2007. By May of that year, 13 million accounts had been created on the service, and 150 games were for sale on the platform.[27][28] By 2014, total annual game sales on Steam were estimated at around $1.5 billion.[29]

Other Languages
العربية: ستيم
azərbaycanca: Steam
Bân-lâm-gú: Steam
беларуская: Steam
български: Steam
brezhoneg: Steam
català: Steam
čeština: Steam
dansk: Steam
Deutsch: Steam
Ελληνικά: Steam
español: Steam
Esperanto: Steam
euskara: Steam
فارسی: استیم
français: Steam
hrvatski: Steam
Bahasa Indonesia: Steam
interlingua: Steam
עברית: Steam
ქართული: Steam (პროგრამა)
latviešu: Steam
lietuvių: Steam
magyar: Steam
македонски: Steam (софтвер)
مصرى: ستيم
Bahasa Melayu: Steam
မြန်မာဘာသာ: Steam
日本語: Steam
norsk: Steam
norsk nynorsk: Steam
polski: Steam
português: Steam
română: Steam
русский: Steam
Simple English: Steam (software)
slovenčina: Steam (program)
slovenščina: Steam
српски / srpski: Стим
suomi: Steam
українська: Steam
Tiếng Việt: Steam (phần mềm)
吴语: Steam
中文: Steam